NATALYA MAHARAJ and her sister Kebrina Maharaj-D'andrade spent a good part of their childhoods watching their father work in his garage.
They didn't mind inhaling the scents of oil and grease, since they knew of the importance of their father's work.
Last Saturday, their father Brij Maharaj officially opened of the first and only car museum in the country, at his home/workplace.
The Brij Maharaj Auto and Heritage Museum was formally opened at the family's home, Boodoosingh Street, Vistabella by Maharaj and San Fernando Mayor Kazim Hosein.
Brij Maharaj can boast of having the oldest working car in the country-a 1917 Ford Model T as well as other rare vehicles including a Chevrolet Phaeton, one of the only four in the world.
His museum now becomes the third automotive museum in the Caribbean with the others in Cuba and Barbados.
Historian/writer Angelo Bissessarsingh, who collaborated with Maharaj on the museum, said: " What makes this museum different from all the others is that each car tells a story and this one has all cars historically significant to Trinidad and Tobago. All of these cars are 100 per cent authentic. There is only one car not 100 per cent authentic and he (Maharaj) choose to make it that way."
When asked what was the value of the 18 cars, the Maharaj family responded "priceless."
They said: "You can't put a dollar value on it because of the historical value."
Bissessarsingh, a adviser adn tree to the museum, described Brij Maharaj not just as a car collector, but a restorer, historian and preserver who spent the last 40 years of his life collecting and restoring the vehicles.
Brij Maharaj, now 60 , was praised by Bissessarsingh for his "labour of love" and contribution to the country's heritage saying it was quickly diminishing.
He said support should be given to the museum since Trinidad and Tobago has a love affair with cars and " we are a rims and tyre and paint culture."
Apart from the cars, the museums also showcases motorbikes, bicycles and other intrinsic items such as posters and memorabilia.
Some of the cars featured are a Ford Model A (1930), Oakland (1928), Plymouth Cranbrook ( 1954) and Chevrolet (1934) to name a few.
Wesley Deosaran , one of the curators, said parts for restoration were bought from all over the world either on-line or on personal travels.
Persons wanted to visit the museum will have to make appointments. A contact number is expected to be established soon. The public can read more about Brij Maharaj's car collection in articles written by Express editor Richard Charan and published on-line at www.trinidadexpress.com.