Passionate, patient and persistent – is 66-year-old Najaf Ali Mirza, a motorcycle enthusiast who never fails to seize the slightest opportunity to spend time with his wide range of two-wheelers he has collected over the years, since he was nine.
Meet this man and you will find a justification for the phrase: “Four wheels move the body and two-wheels move the soul”. He is so passionate about his bikes that he keeps some of his currently-owned machines in his bedroom. So immense is his patience, that he has been working day in and day out over the last year on a café racer, which has a 4 cylinder CB 650 F engine fit into a Continental GT 535 frame, specially bought from the Royal Enfield factory in Chennai.
Persistence is key to success and nobody knows it better than this man, who managed to restore so many classic motorcycles. Talking about restoration and maintenance, Ali resigned from his job in Saudi in 1996, to restore his first bike – a 1931 single cylinder 250 CC AJS – which was gifted to him by his father in 1962 when he was just nine-years-old.
Najaf Ali, who rode solo for the first time at the age of 17, on Norton 16H has not looked back since. He now owns – two RD 175s, an RD 350, 4 BSAs, 1 Honda, 5 Rajdoots, 3, Triumphs, 1 Hyosung, 2 Yamahas, a Moto Guzzi, 3 AJS, 3 Nortons and a Kawasaki Ninja 12 R among his 38 bikes.
He recollects how he fought with his father and bought a 1955 Moto Guzzi from him. “When I was working in UAE, I happened to come across this ad on an automobile magazine, which claimed to put the only 1955 Moto Guzzi in India on sale. Until then, I knew that what my father owned was the only such bike in India, but then I saw this ad and wanted to buy it… On checking details of the person who put up this ad, I got to know that it was none other than my father who was planning to sell the bike,” he recalled, adding that he came back to India, fought with his dad and bought the bike from him.
It is extremely difficult to pick a favourite, especially with such wonderful machines in one’s stable, but Najaf Ali, with a wide smile on his face says that he loves his Norton SS the most, which is a 1962 made 650 CC bike, incidentally the only such in India right now.
Not until the end of the conversation, does he reveal this beauty… One of the only 35 such machines! With a sense of pride and a glint in his eyes, he shows us his most prized possession, a 1924 Matchless R4, giving us another gentle reminder of his love for bikes.
On being asked “What Next?” he says that he is looking forward to finish his café racer, which is purely going to be an exhibit model and won’t be available for sale.