Speeding into the silverscreen

Cherthala native Saneesh Sanakan boasts an impressive collection of over 100 vintage cars and bikes, which have made cameo appearances in movies like 'Turbo', 'Bheeshma Parvam' and more
Saneesh has been collecting and preserving vintage vehicles for nearly two decades now.
Saneesh has been collecting and preserving vintage vehicles for nearly two decades now.

KOCHI: When Aruvipurathu Jose (alias Turbo Jose) cruised away in a green Willys Station Wagon at the end of the movie Turbo, it was not just Mammootty who stole the limelight, the vintage SUV did too. The 1969 classic vehicle is a treasured possession of Saneesh Sanakan, who owns over 100 such vintage cars and bikes at his house in Thuravoor, Cherthala.

On your visit here, what easily catches the eye are a Russian ZIL-131 military truck, a 1968 high-bonnet Jeep, and the versatile MP100 van. Several of his vehicles have graced weddings and cinema shoots.

Indeed, the Fintail 1963 model was featured in the movie Athiran, the Audi Q7 in Mikhael and King of Kotha, the Defender 110 and the Hindustan 14 in Thuramukham.

Amal Neerad's Bheeshma Parvam, which took us to the Kochi of the 1980s, features the 1963 Mercedes-Benz W110 Fintail, which was used by the movie’s villain.

“Seeing the 1963 Mercedes-Benz W110 Fintail feature in the movie was a big break for me. It garnered considerable attention and many came to me asking for the model for shoots and more after,” says Saneesh.

Filmmaker Aashiq Abu's next, Rifle Club, features seven of Saneesh’s vehicles including Nissan Patrol, Landcruiser, Tata Sierra, Tata Estate, Benz W123, Benz MB100 van and Benz W115.

“The spark was lit there and soon, my fascination grew. I learned about the nuances of these machines from my close friends — Abraham Jacob, the late Gireesh S Kartha and Vishnu S Kartha, who too were auto enthusiasts like me. I got my first vintage car at the age of 18. It was a Standard 10 1959 model, which I got for Rs 2.2 lakh from Abraham,” says Saneesh.

The collection grew from there. Though Saneesh initially faced resistance from his family, when he proved to them that too could also be a unique business opportunity, they began to support him. “I learned quickly enough that these vintage vehicles could be rented out for weddings and other special occasions. This helped me generate an income,” says the 36-year-old.

Being vintage, most of the vehicles required considerable work before hitting the road. Saneesh used to send them to workshops until he decided to take matters into his own hands. He hired a team of 4-5 staff members and established The Highlander Garage, where he now focuses on restoring vintage vehicles, including his own. “This hands-on approach ensures that each car receives the attention it deserves,” says Saneesh.

A diverse collection

Saneesh’s collection spans a wide range of vehicles — from classic gems like the Raleigh Bicycle, a charming relic from the past, to rugged workhorses like the massive Russian truck ZIL-131, a six-wheel military truck, the largest in his possession. Among his prized possessions are also the Standard Little Nine, a vintage car that evokes nostalgia; the elegant Benz MB100, which balances utility and style; and the iconic Ford Model A, which represents an era of automotive history.

American classics such as the Plymouth, the Chevrolet Fleetmaster and the Fleetline too grace the lineup, alongside the sturdy Nissan One Ton pickup, the adventurous Defender Series 2 pickup, and the versatile Defender 110 SUV.

Vintage enthusiasts will appreciate the Toyota FJ55, a beloved Toyota Land Cruiser, and British pieces like the Vauxhall, which completes this automotive symphony

“Each vehicle tells a story, and my passion ensures that these wheels keep turning and captivate all who encounter them,” says Saneesh, who relies on the very capable Nissan Patrol Y60 for off-road adventures.

Saneesh can go miles to collect the best of the vintage beauty. From Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Tamil Nadu, this enthusiast picks out the best. “I didn’t embark on this journey alone. My friends Rohin Gopal and Dr Shenoie also played crucial roles in helping me find the best,” he adds.

Saneesh’s collection of bikes is also noteworthy. The classics that ruled the road once included Rajdoot, Lambretta, Lamby, Vijaysuper, Vespa, Priya, Kinetic Honda, Cbr 1000, and Harley Davidson Fat Boy.

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