We have all either visited or bucket-listed a car museum abroad. Sadly, although Pakistan has some unique and sought-after vintage and classic machines, we have not a single car museum in the country, and this is all the more puzzling when you look around and see the sheer number of collections and collectors in the major cities. There has been NO museum initiative from the owners of classic car collections, and this important facet of any country’s identity has (with one or two small exceptions) received no government support either.
Enter Shoaib Qureshy, MD, Bulls Eye DDB, a rare combination of a classic autos enthusiast as well as an advertising guru, which made speaking to him about his passion a breath of fresh air. He has a vision, a mission and a clear road map for the content of Pakistan’s first online car museum website: antiquecars.com.pk. Log on to the link and it opens to show a rolling display of classic car photos. Ranging from the well-known Marques Rolls Royce, Mercedes and Buick, to the obscure French Amilcar and Renault, the photos are an enthusiast’s delight. The ‘About’ page is a brief on Qureshy’s love for cars, his keenness to showcase our country’s enthusiasm for these vintage machines, and the commonalities between our society and the rest of the car world.
I had a conversation with Qureshy to find out more about the website, which spanned 15 minutes of ‘auto speak’, and we touched upon the following topics.
He briefed me on the launch event staged at the Quaid-e-Azam House/Flagstaff House, Karachi on May 14 this year. The actual process of acquiring the pictures and information on the classics began three months prior when he gave a heads-up on all the Pakistani social media auto pages. Considering the lack of urgency that is in our DNA, Qureshy has been remarkably successful!
Explaining the genesis behind the idea, he says it was Covid-19 and the lack of outdoor social events that kickstarted his page. “We were already short of auto events, and when even that went away, it bothered me and that is when the idea grew.” The impetus was all his, and luckily, as he owns an advertising agency, creation, design, website and activation were all in-house. Keen to showcase to the world Pakistan’s car culture and serious collectors, he also wants to expose younger Pakistanis to an appreciation of vintage cars and highlight the passion collectors bring to the preservation of these machines.
Qureshy’s display model is through permission and submission. No vehicle picture is uploaded without the owner’s permission and a mandatory accompanying test. Owners fill a form and the information is then posted on the website (inevitably, there are some noticeable inaccuracies, and we hope these will be edited in due course). Sticking to a format of a rotating display, the current cars on view will be archived, and come December a new lot of vehicles will grace the page. Older displays will always be viewable in the archives section.
When asked how he proposed to establish contact with owners not on social media, he agreed that it was a challenge, and went on to give examples of many owners who, despite being contacted and briefed, just did not bother to send pictures or a write-up. As a result, he had to visit multiple residences to personally take pictures and fill out the data forms. I suppose laziness is a national trait, but he was charitable enough to say that he hoped things would improve in the future, and as motor events picked up, collectors in other cities would also come on board.
Admitting that these ventures have a sizeable cost, he also acknowledged the financial contribution of a senior car collector towards funding the inaugural event in May. He is clear that any financial model will be solely to fund the website, it is not a profit-generating business, and in line with this plan, he plans to create more museum events that will help pay for website hosting, social media posting and staff. He then reverted (unprompted I might add!) to the challenges he faces getting classic car owners to simply fill out a form and send pictures. So yes, inertia is the enemy here! Some names were mentioned, however, I will protect the guilty and not ‘out’ them!
Growth plans came up next, and Qureshy had big dreams for this platform. He sees it as the launch pad for multiple events and social media campaigns, all geared towards creating awareness about future events countrywide, car shows, drives and rallies to name a few. Content will be key, and his Instagram page with short videos on cars, collectors and events, will be the dynamic central point of the ‘classic car scene’.
We concluded by talking about advertising and once again Qureshy will be dipping into his pocket to fund this. He is hopeful to get partners on board whose products and services align with his vision, and he will look to them to push website visibility, adding that any potential partner will be taking a back seat and not take over the page. It all sounds like classy, low-key branding, and we are rooting for this man and his determination to make it happen! He did mention SCOs and SEOs, so yes, we see a bigger and active future for this website! Continuous autos activity advertisement is key!
So the next time you wonder if there are any Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts, or Aston Martin DBS’ out there, go check out and visit the virtual museum. It’s all there! You can make a small contribution to this venture by visiting the online shop and making a purchase of a personalised T-shirt or a mug. With Christmas around the corner, they make great presents too!
Romano Karim Yousuf is a vintage car enthusiast. firstname.lastname@example.org