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A dummy's guide to buying a vintage car

Pride of ownership and pleasure of use. These are the answers commonly received when collectors are asked what they like most about the collector car hobby. Collector cars are as diverse as the people who collect; there is a collector car for everyone, whether you want a Volkswagen Beetle, a Ford Mustang or a Rolls Royce.

There is a collector car out there for you. Collector cars are appealing because they stand out from the crowd. Try placing a 1965 Mustang in a parking lot with a 100 modern cars. Your three-year-old child will readily pick out the Mustang. She may not know exactly what it is, but knows it is different.

If you own a collector car you will not be surprised if absolute strangers walk up to you and begin a conversation because they know they will be warmly received. Passing motorists will often give you the thumbs up and folks position themselves at traffic lights to take pictures with their cell phones (there are also humorous situations when an innocent bystander may ask you "Kya Tata ka naya model hai?" or "Average kya deti hai?").

One of the great things about this hobby is that you can choose the level of participation appropriate for you. You could buy a moderately priced entry level classic that you could drive around town or you could buy a high-end throughbred classic to show at the Cartier Travel with Style Elegance.

Pride, pleasure, diversity, camaraderie and uniqueness are some of the no-cost options that come with collector car ownership. You may have an individual reason for wanting a collector car and no single reason is more valid than any other. Ultimately, it is all about how it makes you feel.

Owning a collector car and the endless enjoyment that it brings with it is quite different from the process of buying it. Buying a collector car could cause some grief if you don't make correct decisions before and during the purchase stage.

Making the right decision is not as difficult as you may think. If you make the correct decisions, a collector car is one car you buy which only appreciates and never depreciates. In fact, many collectors consider it to be a great investment hobby and our wives think we are bright chaps!

A collector car is almost anything you want to buy; it can be a vintage car such as a Ford Model T (or an Austin Chummy). It can be a pony car such as a Mustang. It doesn't have to be rare to be a collector car. It could be a Jeep like a Ford GPW or a Willys MB from an army disposal sale. It could be a 1957 Chevrolet Belair or a Volkswagen Camper Van from the '60s or a '53 Chevy Pick up truck.

There are three important questions you must answer: (1) What do you like?, (2) What are you going to use it for?, and (3) How much do you want to spend?

You will first have to find out what car you like before you start your search. Do you like small cars or large cars, two doors or four doors, convertibles or sedans? Try to be specific about what you want. Education is important and this may include reading up some books and magazines and browsing on the internet.

You could also talk to collectors who are knowledgeable. Knowledgeable enthusiasts in India include Manvendra Singh of Barwani in Indore, R N Seth, Ranjit Malik and S B Jatti in Delhi, Hormosji Cama, Harit Trivedi and Nitin Dosa in Mumbai, Ravi Prakash in Bengaluru and Sanjay Ghosh and Rishi Kumar in Kolkata. These folks are helpful depending on what time of the day you approach them! There are many more but don't know if they are easily accessible. The names I have mentioned are those who are India's important collectors and stalwarts.

The best way to find out what you want is to look at a number of cars; a broad range of cars. Walk around, look at the cars. A good place to start could be the Statesman Vintage Car Rally held in Delhi and Kolkata. The Heritage Motoring Club of India organises dozens of events through the year. After attending a few of these events you will have a better, clearer and more specific idea of what you want.

The writer is managing partner, Titus & Co. Advocate, and founder, Pro-bono Publico, a museum of vintage and classic automobiles.

Britain tightens student visa rules

Britain is to tighten the rules on immigrants entering Britain on a student visa, the government said on Sunday in a clampdown on a system which some security experts say has been exploited by Islamist militants.

Home Secretary (interior minister) Alan Johnson said the crackdown was part of a wider campaign against immigrants who apply for student visas even though they intend to work.

The tighter controls could also help to tackle security concerns over militants who enter Britain ostensibly to study. Analysts have warned for years of a threat from Islamist militants based at British universities, including foreigners on student visas.

A senior Pakistani official in London accused the British government last year of failing to co-operate with the security screening of Pakistani nationals trying to study in Britain.

The issue climbed back up the political agenda last month when it emerged that the Nigerian man accused of plotting to blow up a passenger plane over Detroit tried to re-enter Britain last April to study at a bogus college.

Johnson's department said the changes were drawn up before the alleged Christmas Day attack and are part of a wider campaign to keep a closer eye on overseas students.

"We will come down hard on those that flout the rules." Johnson said.

In a counter-terrorism operation last April, police arrested 12 people including 11 Pakistani nationals, all but one of whom were on student visas.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the case as a "very big terrorist plot", but police released all the men without charge. Eleven were later investigated by immigration officials.

Johnson said that nearly a third of immigrants seek to enter Britain on a student visa and that the country is the second most popular study destination in the world.

The government has closed down 200 bogus colleges, which help students into Britain but don't offer proper courses.

A Home Office spokesman would not confirm how many student visas are expected to be cut each year. Britain issued 236,000 student visas in 2008-09 and refused 110,000 applications.

Under the new rules, applicants from outside the European Union will need to speak better English and will face tougher restrictions on taking part-time jobs.

Immigration has long been a source of criticism for the ruling Labour, behind in polls before an election due by June.

Opposition Conservative leader David Cameron has accused ministers of allowing an unsustainable number of immigrants into Britain and has proposed a cap to keep levels down.

Conservative home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling said the government was "floundering around trying desperately to correct their own mistakes".

In Bihar, Rahul takes on Raj: who fought for NSG on 26/11?

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi launched his Mission Bihar today by declaring that Biharis were in several ways "running the country", and reminding the Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray that the battle for Mumbai on 26/11 was fought and won by commandos from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

"MNS leader Raj Thackeray keeps talking about driving out people of Bihar and UP from Mumbai. But I want to ask who the NSG commandos were. Most of them were from Bihar, UP and other parts of the country," Rahul told Youth Congress workers at Kalchakra Maidan in Bodhgaya.

Rahul wondered why the Thackerays hadn't spoken of forcing out Biharis from Mumbai when they were fighting the terrorists who had attacked the city. "When people from all corners of the country can stand up to save Mumbai, they have every right over the city," he said.

There wasn't a problem with the attitude of the people of Bihar, Rahul said, and it was time others changed their attitude towards Biharis. Earlier, interacting with students of LN Mishra University at Darbhanga, he said: "Most senior IAS and IPS officers come from UP and Bihar. In a way, Biharis are running the country, but I wonder why Bihar is not running."

Rahul called upon the youth to lead the change in Bihar, and asked Youth Congress workers to choose their own leaders. "Get your leaders through organizational elections, we will not impose leaders on you," he said.

The Congress leader is on a two-day trip to interact with Youth Congress workers during its ongoing membership drive before the organisational elections. He started his journey from Bhitiharwa in West Champaran, the place where Mahatma Gandhi launched his first satyagraha in 1918, and reached Patna in the evening after visiting Darbhanga and Gaya.

Rahul took on Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, rejecting his claims that the Centre was not sending adequate funds to Bihar. "The opposite is true," Rahul said. "Bihar has not been able to use Central funds. The Centre can only send Bihar money, but it has to be implemented by the Bihar government."

All Indians are free to live and work in Mumbai: PC

Rejecting Shiv Sena contention of 'Mumbai for Maharashtrians' as "pernicious thesis", the Centre on Monday said the financial capital belonged to all Indians who are free to live and work there.

On Sena threats to Australian and Pakistani players' participation in the IPL cricket event in Mumbai, Home Minister P Chidambaram asserted that he would "guarantee them full security."

"We reject the thesis of the Shiv Sena. Mumbai belongs to all of India and all Indians are free to live and work in Mumbai," he said answering a question at a press conference in New Delhi.

He said the Government of Maharashtra was competent to handle the situation and the Centre would extend help if sought. "If the Government of Maharashtra seeks our advice, we will advise them but I am sure they are competent to manage the situation," Chidambaram said.

"But, as a matter of policy, we reject the theses of the Shiv Sena and the MNS. These are pernicious theses and they have to be rejected," he said.

On Sunday, Shiv Sena had objected to the RSS view that Mumbai is for all Indians and told it that the western metropolis belongs to Marathi people only.

Asked about safety of Australian and Pakistani players' participating in IPL, Chidambaram said, "Let Australian players come to India. Let Pakistani players come to India.

Let them play in Mumbai and I will guarantee them full security".

Sena had said its activists would not allow Australian players to play IPL matches in Maharashtra to protest the attacks on Indians in that country.

The party has been opposing sporting ties with Pakistan contending that the neighbouring country has been supporting anti-India terrorists.