Wheeled relics of the liberation war
1956 Chevrolet 210 Beauville
If the staying “The man, the myth, the legend” was applied to a car, that would be this one. This Chevrolet TRI 5 series with a Fisher body was originally acquired by the Forest Department and registered officially in early 1957, and that is pretty much the only on-paper information we have on it. As legends go however, it has quite a few. The car was still in government service when hostilities began and allegedly saw action during the Liberation War. Indeed, when the car was rediscovered, there was a bullet-like hole in the passenger side bed window. After the war, the car reportedly became part of the presidential fleet, where it supposedly chauffeured around both Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman.
Decades later, the car was recovered by vintage car collector E.M. Faruk in decrepit condition, who put it back into running order. Another collector named Durjoy Rahman then purchased the car from him, who restored it back to immaculate condition. Shift is currently working on a full feature on this vehicle, watch this space.
1953 Oldsmobile Super 88
Much like many other stories from the liberation war, the story of this Oldsmobile Super 88 is that of a victim. Originally brought to the country as a US embassy car, the car was later purchased by a Hindu businessman in Faridpur for personal use. During the Liberation War, Pakistani forces came to his home to kill him, but found the house empty. Angered, the soldiers opened fire on the car and left. After the war, the vehicle was handed over to a scrapper at Dhaka, where it sat. When E.M. Faruk found the car, it was a time capsule, complete with bullet holes and its original East Pakistan number plate. The 88 is currently undergoing restoration, and might one day get the chance to cruise around on the roads of our liberated nation.
1967 Volkswagen Beetle
Dr. Kamrul Islam
While the Oldsmobile was a victim, the Islam family’s Beetle can be best described as a guardian angel. When Dr. Mafakhkharul Islam bought the beetle in 1969 for a then steep price of TK 1,200, he had no idea the car will ending up saving him and his family. When the war broke out in 1971 Dr. Islam used the Beetle to take his pregnant wife and two young daughters out of Dhaka city to safety. During their exodus, the car had to work around difficult terrain, Pakistani army check-posts, and Indian air-raids, a feat the car achieved with flying colours. After the war, the car remained with the family, with Dr. Islam refusing to sell it. Dr. Mafakhkharul Islam passed away in 2007, and the ownership of the bug was passed over to his son, Dr. Kamrul Islam. This Dr. Islam restored the Beetle to his formal glory and intended to pass it on to his own son, Mushfiqul Islam Fahim, as a family heirloom.
1968 Morris Minor 1000
Liberation War Museum
Of all the cars on this list, the story of this Morris Minor is the most tragic. Once as ubiquitous as PremAllions in the streets of Dhaka, this particular 1000 belong to Dr. Fazle Rabbi, the then joint professor of Cardiology and Internal Medicine at Dhaka Medical College and Hospital. During the hostilities, the car did its job, ferrying the doctor around from patient to patient. However, on the night of 15th December 1971, Rabbi was taken away from his home by Pakistani and Rajakar forces. He was then Martyred, with many other scholars as part of the infamous killing of Bengali intellectuals. His family later donated the car to the Liberation War Museum, where it remains preserved to this day.
Photo: Shadman Al Samee