THE FIFTH edition of the Cartier Travel With Style Concours D’Elegance 2017 event is set to be flagged off in Hyderabad this weekend, by Princess Qhabl Begum Sahiba Esra Birgen of the Asaf Jah Dynasty, popularly known as Princess Esra. One of the world’s most prestigious gatherings, with over 80 of the rarest and best-preserved vintage automobiles and motorcycles from across India on display, the event places the country’s automotive heritage alongside the who’s who of Indian royalty, fashion, films, and business. Here’s a look at the choicest collections on show.
About: Manu Raman is an avid classic collector based in Mysore, who participates regularly in leading vintage car exhibitions in India.
Prize quote: “Classic cars and history are inextricably linked. The allure of ownership is never divorced from the story behind a ‘car’. The Cartier Concours is a well-known and respected event, and should result in appreciation of India’s automobile treasures long considered one of the best collections of classic cars imported and built to specifications for erstwhile royals and wealthy businessmen.”
His collection: 1936 25-30HP Rolls Royce — Bought by my father in 1972 from Mr Batliwalla in Mumbai. The original owner was a Mr N C Lakhrawalla of Bellasis Road, Byculla, Mumbai, who ordered two 25/30 h.p. cars:- ours a saloon by Thrupp & Maberly and one other. The car was shipped to Mumbai on the s/s ‘Durenda’ which sailed on the 14th of May 1938. It has been in our family since 1972 and was lovingly looked after and driven by my father over the years. It has been part of a movie shoot and a regular on the Indian Classic Car Rally circuit participating in rallies across Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mysuru.
About: Rajesh Somasundaram is a noted businessman and avid vintage car collector from Chennai. A third-generation member of The PCM family,
promoters of Pandyan Hotel, and Madurai’s first luxury hotel that has been in operation since 1968, he is regularly featured for his rare Mercedes Benz.
Prize quote: “We are very excited to showcase our 1914 Benz at the prestigious show. The Benz is a link to the PCM family’s history, and gives us immense pride to play a small part in the preservation and promotion of India’s rich motoring heritage. Everything about the Benz is a delight, and through this event, I am sure many
owners will begin to restore and showcase their old treasures.”
His collection: 1914 Benz Model 8/20 HP Runabout Tourer — Acquired in 1914 by our grandfather, Rao Bahadur P C Muthu Chettiar, Zamindar (1877-1940), this car has remained with the same family for over 100 years. This Benz is apparently the oldest recorded Mercedes Benz in India, one of only four in existence worldwide. The Benz was used regularly by the PCM family until the mid-1960s, when it was garaged because of difficulty in obtaining spare parts. In 2013, Somasundaram, one of the grandsons of P C Muthu Chettiar, with the backing of the PCM family, decided to restore this Benz. On 24 September 2016, Roland Folger, MD and CEO, Mercedes Benz India, unveiled the restored Benz in Chennai.
Captain KF Pestonji
About: President of Chermas Group, a commercial pilot by profession and renowned vintage car and motorcycle collector, whose family has lived in Hyderabad for more than 200 years.
Prize quote: “We as Hyderabadis are very lucky and proud to have the Cartier Concours d’Elegance in the city. It gives us the opportunity to showcase our proud possessions. It is also beneficial for vintage car enthusiasts who will get a chance to see some of the rarest and unique collections from all over India. I highly appreciate the curator Manvendra Barwani for his efforts to host this show.”
His collection: 1964 Oldsmobile Z85 — A gift to Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur before his Coronation in 1967 by Zaheer Ahmed, an Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. HEH The Nizam VIII used this car on the occasion of his coronation, at the Chowmahalla Palace.
1935 Hupmobile 521 J Deluxe Sedan — Owned by S B Taylor of Lalaguda, Secunderabad.
1951 Dodge Kingsway — Once owned by HEH Nawab Sir Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur, The Nizam VII of Hyderabad, the last ruler of the former State of Hyderabad Deccan. He was once the world’s richest man, and this was said to be his favourite car. Gool K Pestonji now owns the car.
1947 Dodge Custom A 2-door Convertible Coupe Dodge Custom was introduced in 1946. A few of them with right-hand drive CKD (Complete Knock-Down) kits were imported to India. This is one of them.
About: Ravi Prakash has been collecting cars from a young age, and has amassed a sizeable collection of cars, motorcycles and other automobiles. A regular Cartier Concours entrant, he is now setting up a Museum of Transportation near Bangalore.
Prize quote: “Cartier Concours is the first international event (of its kind) being held in India over the years. I’m happy that it’s happening in the heritage city, at the heritage Palace of the Taj Falaknuma. It is the most befitting place.”
His collection: 1941 Lincoln Zephyr — A rare car, one of only 178 made, and one of a few right-hand drives in India.
1962 Jaguar Roadster — Registered in the name of his wife, Sabena Prakash.
1924 Rolls Royce Landulette — Displayed by his daughter, Rupali Prakash.
— Team Indulge