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November 17, 2020

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Home » District » Minhang

Vintage car ‘keeper’ reveres classic beauty

With his over 200 vintage cars — both modern and classic — parked in a yard on Humin Road, Shen Yinqiu calls himself a “keeper” rather than an owner of the vehicles.

His car lot holds an amazing array of old cars, including a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Nissan Cedric; a full collection of BMW Series 7; and a Shanghai model that went out of production in 1991.

To say the least, Shen is a lover of old cars, who finally figured out how to make a living from his passion.

“I came to Shanghai for college in 2004, and I began doing business the next year,” Shen said.

It started with a motorbike as a practical way of getting around.

“When one has a two-wheel vehicle, one naturally wants to graduate to a four-wheel one,” he said.

He bought his first car around 2007, a Haval manufactured by China’s Great Wall Motors. He liked it so much that he bought another after selling the original.

Shen didn’t develop his deep fancy for old cars until he happened to buy a BMW Series 7 model. When it broke down, he kept repairing it until it couldn’t be fixed any more. That spurred him to start collecting cars.

The more he learned about old cars, the more he loved them. His collection began growing.

Newer-model cars may be more fashionable, with better performance and electrical driving assistance, but the old ones that rely on people appeal to Shen.

“I came to find there is something missing from new cars,” said Shen. “I like the old ones for their classic aesthetics. In terms of design and inspiration, they just feel more human-oriented to me.”

Shen said he can’t name a favorite.

“I like them all,” he said. “Each car has its own personality. To some people, they are only hunks of steel, but to me, they are distinctive.”

Shen now runs a business under the name Bu’er to do maintenance, repair and customization of old cars. The name in Chinese means “tending to one’s own business with complete focus.”

He decided to base his business, which officially opened in May, in Minhang. He reckons it will make a profit in the next six months. But more than an income, his business is a way of sharing his passion with other vintage car lovers.

“The connection with other people is the most important,” he said. “People I meet are usually true and passionate. Collecting and caring for old cars requires patience and constant love.”

“A French friend of mine who grew up in the US visited my lot and was awed by the old European cars here,” Shen said. “He told me that many of the cars were the same as those on the streets when he was a child. It was very nostalgic. He just sat here in silence, savoring the moment. It was very touching.”

Much as people might think that vintage cars are the passion of those born in the 1960s or 1970s, Shen said that aficionados are getting younger and younger. It appeals to those who regard cars beyond just a transportation mode, people who see history and emotion in them.

Shen tries to maintain the authenticity of vintage cars by using old parts as much as possible. Maintenance requires old techniques of repair. However, he uses the traditional art of Chinese lacquer painting to improve the interiors of cars.

At his workshop, he employs skilled craftsmen who usually have more than 15 years of experience in the field to keep quality high.

“It is a culture that I want to promote,” Shen said. “It needs no explanation when such a solid exhibit is placed right in front of your eyes. You can see the value.”

Shen said he might hold a vintage car exhibition or form a cavalcade of old cars to spread the word.

He is, however, not sure how long he will stay in the business, even though his passion for old cars will continue.

“It’s become an inseparable part of my life now,” he said. His immediate goal is to stay on the lookout for early models of Porsche and Ferraris, admitting that they “can be pretty hard to find.”


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