Parsis and the Art of Automobile Maintenance

Mumbai’s tiny Parsi community has been defying Akerlof’s theory for decades. The used car market in India likely has more lemons than peaches, buyers remain equally blind while making a choice, but one type of used vehicle fetches a premium over all others—one owned and maintained by a Parsi.

Here in the city, newspaper classifieds for used cars often state ‘Parsi-owned’ upfront, a mention almost always made ahead of the brand name and model of the vehicle. And popular internet portals like Quickr and OLX have reams of web pages with used cars on sale that highlight how they are ‘Parsi-owned’, how they are in ‘immaculate condition’ and how they are looking for ‘an owner to take care of their car’. A glance at these portals even reveals used cars that were once owned by a Parsi, have changed several other hands since and yet flaunt their ‘Parsi-owned’ label.

It all points to the extraordinary demand for cars owned by Parsis. While most vehicles collect dust for weeks before a buyer is found, these get sold within days of going on sale. Just what makes Parsi car ownership so special?

Freddie Turel, a Parsi well known for his passion of collecting cars, lifts his large right arm in the air, points his index finger to his head and proceeds to unscrew an imaginary screw in his head. “Because,” he says by way of explanation, “we [Parsis] are mad about our cars.”

Click Here for the full story in OPEN Magazine by Lhendup Bhutia


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