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Ever heard of a car shaped like a handbag, a burger or a wedding gown? Itishree Samal visits a museum in Hyderabad which houses many such quirky designs.
His passion for turning metal scrap into objects has won him a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Kanyaboina Sudhakar, the owner of Sudha Cars Museum in Hyderabad, the first and only museum of wacky, hand-made cars in the world, has a portfolio of over 100 quirky designs. Standing tall at 41 feet and seven inches in the parking lot of the museum is also the world's largest tricycle, the creation that won him the record. Under Sudhakar's belt is also the design of India's smallest train - the 19-foot-long train, which can seat 10 people, was designed by Sudhakar in 20 days.
Situated in the midst of junkyards at Bahadurpura in the old city of Hyderabad, the museum houses over 32 cars in a range of quirky shapes and designs - a basketball, a football, a computer, a billiards table, a brinjal, a burger, a Nikon camera and even a Shivling. In the last 30 years, Sudhakar has come up with more than 650 creations including bikes, vintage cars and cycles, festive innovations such as a Christmas tree-shaped car and a cricket bat-shaped car which he introduced during the World Cup in 2007. Some of his designs also support causes - like the condom-shaped bike for AIDS awareness and the cage-shaped car to save birds.
Sudhakar started designing as a hobby at the age of 14. "I used to design small objects, vintage cars and buses. Eventually, I started designing double-decker and single-decker buses for the purpose of public and private tourism," he says. He gestures to a 40-seater double-decker bus-cum-cycle equipped with pedals. Some of the double-decker buses he has designed are being used in Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, Essel World in Mumbai as well as by the Andhra Pradesh, Maharasthra and Karnataka Tourism Departments.
"The idea to design a wacky car came from a promotional car event in US in 1991 where I saw a car in the shape of skating shoes," says Sudhakar. "Now, I get ideas from everything I see. Even when I see a mobile phone, I begin to think of the number of wheels and the amount of suspension that would be required for the design." The ideas also come from interactions with visitors, schoolchildren and friends. His museum, he says, gets more than 1,500 visitors in a day.
Sudhakar has lined up an ornament train with eight buggies in the shape of jewellery pieces. Also eye-catching are the two cars designed as bridal dresses - while one is akin to a pearly white Christian wedding gown, the other carries all the accompaniments of a traditional Indian attire. Last year, he unveiled his "ladies collection" - cars in the shape of a ladies' handbag, stilettos, lipstick and compact. In another section is the "mechanised Ganesha" complete with a gear, new pipes, a petrol tank, clutch plates, a motorcycle and wheels; there is also a replica of the trademark red London bus.
Designing each car is a challenge as a lot of detailed work goes into it, says Sudhakar. "First, we make the dummy base and an outline of the object to check the balance and suspension, then we calculate the weight, depending upon which we select the engine." The design-to-model transformation can take anywhere between 20 days and three years.
Most of the parts used in the cars are sourced from over 60 junkyards and garages surrounding the museum. "Hyderabad was one of the richest cities during the Nizam rule. Many of the Nizams owned vintage cars. So it was easy to procure the spare parts from the old city," he says.
His other fascinating creations include the range of over 30 designs of bicycles - from a single-seater to multi-seaters. Each comes with a different name such as "Penny Farthings", "Tandems", "Made For Each Other", "Velo Cars", "Recumbents", "Micro Cars", "Lightfoots", and "Sociable".