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Supercars roar when city snores

A Lamborghini Gallardo in the garage doesn’t just set you back by Rs 3.06 crore, it also means losing sleep over how to drive the dream machine on a Calcutta road.

Parveen Agarwal, 31, figured out that the best time to take his LP 550-2 for a spin without having to worry about L31 scraping a side mirror was when the city would be asleep. Thus was born the city’s first Supercars Club, comprising a group of young automobile aficionados who are up and revving before dawn every Sunday and back before chaos returns to the city roads.

The club members may prefer to enjoy their cars away from the crowd, but they are discovering that it’s hard for their showboats not to draw attention to themselves wherever they go.

When the group halts at a Ballygunge Circular Road café after a drive down the Rajarhat Expressway and NH2 on a Sunday morning, everyone from the walker to the waiter seems mesmerised by the row of magnificent engines that include a Bentley Continental GTC, a Jaguar F-Type V6 and a BMW Z4, among other beauties.

“We are strictly not into racing. We are just a like-minded set of people who love to go for drives and hang out together at cafes or restaurants. It’s more fun driving in a group than individually,” says Parveen, introducing the club that he formed soon after his Lambo came home.

The Lamborghini Gallardo Longitudinale Posteriore five-hundred-and-fifty dash two, Fiftieth Anniversario India Serie Speciale (yes, it’s meant to be spelt out!), is Parveen’s second supercar after the Porsche that wife Paromita says she forced him to buy. “He was more a biker before that. I wanted to part of his outings, so I forced him to bring a Porsche and then got him to upgrade (to a Lamborghini)!” quips Paromita, who now accompanies her businessman husband on the Sunday drive.

Parveen’s brother Bikash, who has taken over the Porsche, is also a member of the club.

For auto dealer Amit Modi, the driving force behind his growing fleet of super cars is his 12-year-old son Devangsh, a student of Class VII at La Martiniere for Boys. “It was he who told me I should get the Bentley Continental GTC after the Jaguar F-Type V8 Supercharged,” says Amit.

Devangsh, who was able to identify marques at five, is up to speed on the precision engineering that goes into the making of supercars. He points out that the GTC, his father’s latest acquisition, has a phenomenal 6-litre W12 twin turbo engine that does 0 to 100kmph in 5.1 seconds.

But ask him what he likes about the white Bentley and Devangsh is like any other 12-year-old. “It’s a convertible!”

Engineer Arijit Saha, another of Parveen’s friends in the Supercars Club, owns a 3.5-litre BMW Z4 apart from a Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight, among other bikes.

But while biking isn’t a problem whenever he is up for it, Arijit rues that he can’t drive his Beemer where he lives.

“I live in Howrah and it is next to impossible to drive a sports car in those narrow lanes. So, every Sunday morning is like an event for me,” says Arijit, who looks forward to the company of his motoring friends as much as he does the Sunday drive.

One of those friends is Rishi Raj Lohia, who owns a Jaguar XJL, a BMW 330 and a Mercedes-Benz ML350 apart from his “prized” 3.0 litre V6 F-Type Supercharged. “I drive the Beemer to work, I take out the Jag once in a while, and I drive the ML when I am not driving carefully!” says Rishi, who doesn’t allow his family driver to sit at the wheel of any of these cars.

Does he also say no to his mates in the Sunday Drive Club? “No, I don’t. How else would I get to drive a Lambo or a Bentley convertible?”

The one thing he and the other supercar owners are extra careful about is where they park their prized possessions. “I take my F-Type only to places where there is secured parking. I don’t park on roads and under trees,” says Rishi.

The next car on Rishi’s wish-list is the Ferrari Italia Spider, which he just might get for his 26th birthday!

Aritra Ghosh has just “stepped up” from a Mercedes-Benz C-Class to the Z4 but says he is partial to neither, whether driving to work or for pleasure. “The Z4 is, of course a high performer and it shows when I am on a Sunday drive with my friends,” he says.

The other club members, Arinjan Mazumdar and siblings Saurabh and Anish Poddar, between them own at least seven top cars in the Sunday Club line-up.

Arinjan, who runs a plastics company, has a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder and an Audi R8 in his garage. Brothers Saurabh and Anish Poddar have a 1993 Ferrari 348 TB (Transversale Berlinetta), the BMW 640D, the Mercedes-Benz SL 320 AMG, the S500 Launch Edition and the Jaguar Supersport XJ, among others.

Parveen attributes the bonhomie between the supercar owners not to the common factor of being able to afford luxury models but a shared love of anything connected to cars and bikes. Apart from meeting almost every week, they are connected online and their interaction is invariably about the machines that make their hearts rev.

Arijit’s Facebook profile has an entire picture album dedicated to his “mechanical girlfriends”, including his first one: a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 that he bought in 2006.

According to Parveen, keeping the Supercars Club small is the key to keeping the friendship alive and the adrenaline pumping.

“Our club isn’t a registered entity yet and we aren’t a large group either. Ideally, we would like to have the size of the club restricted to 12-15 members,” he says.

What none of them wants to rein in, of course, is the spirit of the supercar experience: seat belt strapped, hands on steering, foot on the pedal, eye on the road, surrender.

wheels of desire

BMW Z4

Top speed: 250kmph
Price: Rs 79.75lakh (on road, Calcutta)

Porsche Boxster S

Top speed: 279kmph
Price: Rs 93.13lakh (ex-Calcutta)

Jaguar F Type

Engine: 3 litre V6 380
Price: Rs 1.49cr (ex-Delhi)

Jaguar F Type

Engine: 5 litre V8 550
Price: Rs 1.79cr (ex-Delhi)

Lamborghini Gallardo

Top speed: 320kmph
Price: Rs 3.06cr (ex-Mumbai)

BMW Z4

Engine: 2979cc
Runs on: petrol
0-100kmph in: 5.1secs

Bentley Continental GTC

Top speed: 314kmph
Price: Rs 2.15cr (ex-Mumbai)

Which is your dream car? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com