There was a time when it was impossible to even think about travelling without a Jeep for high range residents of Kerala. In order to retain the childhood memories when Jeep journeys were common, he started collecting Willys Jeeps. Gradually, Thodupuzha municipality’s former chairman Rajeev Pushpangadan's love affair with Willys grew. Later, his passion extended to two-wheelers too.
Earlier, before it became a city, Thodupuzha that was dotted with hills and mountains could only be conquered by one vehicle - Willys Jeep. In 1964, Rajeev's father Pushpangadan Nair bought a second-hand Willys. A businessman, he used it for nearly 20 years. The trigger for Rajeev’s love affair with Willys Jeeps can be traced back to these memories.
Ford GPW - The warhorse
Built by Ford in 1944, GPW Military Jeep had taken part in World War II. The Ford GPW had played a key role in increasing the efficiency and mobility of the US Army. After the war, the US government handed it over for civilian use. It changed several hands and finally reached the garage of Rajeev. It doesn't have a back door, is left-hand drive and has features like a stand to fix machine gun, pickaxe, a small spade, mechanical wiper, mechanical winch and hooks around the vehicle for the purpose of airlifting. He got it from a house in Thiruvananthapuram in a very bad condition. It was transported in a lorry and it took several months to restore it.
Rajeev also has a 1951 model Willys. It was owned by a business group in Thodupuzha itself. Rajeev is its second owner. Another jeep, 1943 GPW is undergoing restoration work. Rajeev also undertakes restoration works for a very few people who are close to him. The vintage vehicles from Rajeev's stable has appeared in several movies like Aagathan, Madirasi, Pattanathil Bootham, Kamarasambhavam, Parole, Marykkundoru Kunjaadu and several other films.
Apart from vintage Jeeps, his collection includes a 1970 model Vespa 150, a 1987 model Rajdoot, a 1980 model Rajdoot Bobby, a 1975 model Lambretta, and one of Maruti's first model cars, 1984 SS. Another big catch, an old Morris Minor, is being given a new lease of life under the supervision of vintage specialist mechanic Radhakrishnan. With 45 years' experience under his belt, Radhakrishnan's workshop is the trusted place for Rajeev's restoration works. Brother Vinod is also assisting Radhakrishnan. Vinod is also the president of Thodupuzha workshop association.