In 2008, Cartier hosted India’s first auto show of heritage cars, the Concours d’Elegance, at the Royal Western India Turf Club in Mumbai. It returns this year to Delhi’s Jaipur Polo club. Fifty-six cars in different categories, such as the Indian heritage class, preservation class, classics, post-war classics and roadsters, all in running order, will make a circuit at the event which will be held today. “While the Mumbai show was based more on pedigree and rarity of the cars, this time we’ll see more style, colour and glamour,” says the curator of the show, Manvendra Singh of Barwani, co-author of The Automobiles of the Maharajas.
The Stutz, 1930
The only one of its kind in India, the Stutz was first spotted by the Maharaja of Baria at the 1929 London Motor Show. In 1952, this double-cowl speedster went into the hands of Bura Dadi, a car collector from Godhra, who bought it for a mere Rs3,000. It spent many years locked up in his garage, and even survived the Godhra riots in 2002 (Dadi’s garage was burnt down by rioters, but the Stutz had broken down near his son’s home on a drive and had been left there).
(from left clockwise) The Studebaker, 1955; The Stutz, 1930; The Maybach, 1936. Photos: Javed Shah/Mint and Courtesy Diljeet Titus
Dadi willed the car to Singh before he died in 2002. But when Dadi’s son refused to part with it without being compensated and Singh could not afford to buy it, he asked Delhi-based car collector Diljeet Titus to buy it. Freshly painted in purple with red pinstripes, deep burgundy interiors, golden dashboard with white dials, it has a “rich, luxurious Parisian salon look,” says Singh.
The Maybach, 1936
Delhi-based art gallerist Anubhav Nath’s Maybach is one of the only 100 historical Maybachs (produced between 1921-41) in the world now. Originally owned by the Maharaja of Patiala, the German marque was bought during the British Raj, when Rolls-Royce was seen as the preferred choice of royalty. Singh says it was possibly bought to irk the British. In 1966, car collector and restorer Ramchander Nath acquired the Maybach. Anubhav is the third-generation owner of the automobile.
The Studebaker, 1955
A rakish-looking sports sedan, the Studebaker was designed by Raymond Loewy, an industrial designer of the 1920s best known for creating the Shell and BP logo.
Its current owner, Delhi-based Avinash Grewal, a businessman, bought it in Bangalore a few years ago. It was an ex-consulate car sold through the State Trading Corporation. “I’m not sure of its exact history. It was probably imported by a diplomat in 1955. It spent some years in Jamshedpur before it was sent to Bangalore. I bought it from a vintage car collector in Bangalore,” says Grewal.