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Global Connections

Beetle mania hits streets of Bangalore

By Matthew Knight for CNN
  • Bangalore Beetle Club was set up in 2007 by local surgeon Dr. Shamsundar
  • Group has more than 30 members who indulge in their driving passion every month
  • Shamsundar bought his green 1974 1303S VW Beetle 22 years ago
  • India
  • Bangalore
  • Volkswagen Beetle

Global Connections, a segment on CNN's Connect the World, takes two very different countries and asks you to find the connections. This week we focused on India and Germany. Here we look at one Indian man's passion for German cars.

(CNN) -- He can usually be found beetling around the wards of Bangalore's Manipal Hospital.

But come the weekend, general surgeon Dr. MV Shamsundar indulges in a far more relaxing pastime: driving his beloved Volkswagen Beetle.

Shamsundar, founder of the Bangalore Beetle Club, has been passionate about Beetles for more than 20 years. He's never looked back since he bought his green 1974 1303S model for 68,000 rupees (around $1,500) back in 1988.

"When anyone -- from children to adults -- sees the car, it puts a smile on their face," Shamsundar told CNN.

"It's very beautiful," he said, "sturdy and durable. German cars are built forever."

He first had the idea of setting up a Beetle club 15 years ago. But it wasn't until 2007 that he was able to fulfill his automotive ambition when he met another Beetle owner equally keen on the idea.

And so the Bangalore Beetle Club was born.

"From two it became four and now we have about 30 in the group," Shamsundar said.

Free to join, the group is more of a family than a club, he says. Members meet up at least once a month to go for a drive before settling down for some lunch.

The "BBC," as Shamsundar likes to call the group, are a colorful bunch, with a variety of models and colors -- red, white, yellow, orange and black -- represented.

Shamsundar's passion for cars is strictly a German affair. He drives a Mercedes to work and also owns a 1974 VW Variant. He recently bought a "Microbus" -- better known as a campervan.

Buying a vintage Beetle in India today is far more costly, he says. Nowadays they cost five times the amount he paid for his.

But at least parts are easier to come by now, thanks to eBay, Shamsundar says.

Despite his VW infatuation, he has a dream of visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart.

"If the BBC sponsors me, then maybe I'll go!" he said.