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Old bangers

Thinking backwards: the history of cars fascinates some

In the current era of globalisation, mankind's main interest is in looking forward to the development of advanced technology, such as stem-cell therapy to replace diseased organs and genetically modified organisms to enhance agricultural production.

However, there are those among us who are happy to look backward, to learn about the past. Mingfong Chang, vice president of the Bangkok Diecasting and Injection Group, is one car owner who is fascinated with the history of automobiles.

"I used to drive very fast cars in the past, but now my priority is searching for the history of cars," he says. "Our world is developing so fast that it scares me. I'm constantly surprised that most of humanity seems to regard civilisation and innovative technology as having just a few narrow aims: raising production and prolonging life."

Mingfong says, for instance, that his Mercedes-Benz 200D W 115/8, first produced in 1970, has an interesting history.

"When I firstly owned it, I didn't know how interesting the car's history was. I was astonished when I studied the details. My car had remained in perfect condition even after 37 years had passed by," he says, adding that he found the car's maintenance record booklet and discovered it had always been carefully maintained.

"The first owner was a foreigner, and I found that the car was parked in a garage for more than a decade. I believe it was not taken out on the road for a few years after it was bought, because the tyre treads remained good, and the manufacturing date of the tyres is the same year as the car was assembled. They still have a soft ride."

Mingfong says the car still functions well and that most of its equipment is original.

"The seat covers are fabric, although most cars of this model had leather seats. So my car is a rarity. The floor mats are also original.

"Looking back in history is fun," he says. "I'm confident mine is the most perfect car in Thailand from 1970 until now."

Thanadol Rila

The Nation

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