The Classic Car Collector
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The Classic Car Collector
Tran Quang Hung flicks through the images on his phone, pausing when he finds one of a new addition to his family. You could mistake him for a proud parent — with his big grin and eagerness to share — but Hung isn’t showing me family portraits. Instead we’re looking at a shot of a retro Citroen Ami 6, the latest vehicle to join his vintage car collection. Including the Ami, Hung has five classic cars — the youngest of which is 46 years old.
Hung, 39, has long been passionate about autos. He recalls fondly when he first joined Ford Vietnam in 1996.

 “I still remember the first time I saw Henry Ford in a photo standing in front of one of his Model Ts,” says Hung, who stops talking for a moment to show me a similar photo he has — of himself posing, like Ford, in front of a vintage car. Hung may have had a desk job at Ford, but that didn’t diminish his interest in mechanics.

“Even though I wasn’t actually working on the assembly line I was still down there every day,” he says.
Hung moved on from Ford in 2006, but his keen interest in vehicles has only gotten stronger. Last year his passion turned from a hobby to a business with the launch of Hung Xe Co — a classic car rental company. That, of course, meant he needed to grow his family.

“I bought my first one, a 1966 VW Beetle 1300cc, in May [2011] from Lam Dong province [in the Central Highlands],” explains Hung. “I bought a one-way ticket to Dalat and drove it back to Hanoi.” His 1966 Simca also went on a long journey to get to its new home. Hung picked it up from Hau Giang, about 200km out of Ho Chi Minh City. As he was driving the length of the country he called about a Citroen Traction Avant that he had made an offer on and found out his bid was successful. Hung continued to drive the Simca, while the Citroen was transported by truck from Nghe An. The Movenpick Hotel’s Citroen Traction Avant was bought by Hung in September and his final purchase for 2011 was a Citroen Ami 6 in December.

Given Vietnam’s restrictions on importing cars over five years old, Hung has had to scour the country to build up his fleet. He says the law makes no exception for classic cars, so they need to either be found locally or brought in piece by piece and then reassembled.

These limitations have resulted in Hung spending a lot of time behind the wheel, but his experiences have helped him with one segment of his new endeavour. Part of his goal in building up a classic car rental company is to also develop more of a culture of appreciation for classic cars in Vietnam and to create a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

Hung offers an example, “We are able to share our experiences such as where to park on long road trips, and safe routes to drive at night in Vietnam”. If you ever purchase a car over 40 years old and decide to take a road trip, he offers, park it at the top of a hill each night — just in case you have to roll it down and pop the clutch to get it started in the morning.

The main element of his business at the moment is renting out his cars for photo shoots, events, city tours and airport pick-ups. Hung is also excited about the possibility of longer classic car road trips out of the capital.

The car enthusiast is almost philosophical in explaining how he hopes his efforts will be beneficial for posterity.

“Classic cars are built to last and I want to retain them for the next generation,” he says. Given this long-term outlook, Hung settled on the slogan tu qua khu toi tuong lai for his business, which in English means “from the past to the future”.

New sports cars, he explains are only good until the next year’s model comes out. “I like the permanence that classic cars represent.”

(The Word Hanoi)
Words by Karryn Miller. Photo by Aaron Joel Santos
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Very admired a car lover loves cars more than loves himself. I am a OTK ...
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