Luxury on Wheels

Nov 28 2012, 10:41 IST
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the 1934 Packard Tourer. the 1934 Packard Tourer.
SummaryWith its third edition scheduled for February, Cartier Travel with Style Concours D’Elegance’s exclusive preview celebrated India’s love for vintage cars and bikes.

With its third edition scheduled for February, Cartier Travel with Style Concours D’Elegance’s exclusive preview celebrated India’s love for vintage cars and bikes.

Unusual exhibits greeted visitors at Byculla’s Bhau Daji Lad Museum on Monday. While a grey Fiat 1100 Select, an elegant red 1934 Packard Tourer and a handsome black 1947 Rolls Royce Wraith were placed close to the entrance, the 1947 MG TC was parked further inside the lawns.

Although vintage, these cars are not part of the museum’s exhibits, but made for an exclusive preview to mark the announcement of Cartier Travel With Style Concours D’Elegance. The globally renowned exhibition and competition of automobiles is a tradition dating back to the 17th century when the French aristocracy would put their carriages on display. In its India edition, scheduled to take place on February 10, 2013, at the Taj Lands End in Bandra, it will showcase a collection of rare and beautiful vintage automobiles. This will be the third edition after the 2008 and 2011 editions, in Mumbai and Delhi respectively.

Present on the occasion were Louis Ferla, regional director of Cartier, Middle East, India and Africa; Manvendra Singh of the royal family of Barwani, Madhya Pradesh, curator of the Concours in India; and event director Mark Shand. While Ferla spoke of the brand’s endeavour to celebrate the design and craftsmanship of India’s automobile heritage, Singh, as India’s most experienced vintage car expert — with over 30 years of experience — pointed out that for the first time in India, motorcycles will feature in the showcase. “For each edition, apart from 65 vintage cars participating in the Councours, there will be 30 motorcycles, including the ones that were part of the preview — Mandar Phadke’s 1944 Indian Chief American motorcycle, Dnyanesh Smant’s 1955 Norton Manx racing bike and Jacob Verghese’s 1926 AJS,” Singh said, adding that the motorcycles at the exhibition would be presented in three categories: pre-war classics, post-war classics and racing motorcycles.

Apart from these, the new classes of cars include the Shikar Class (vintage cars made specially for hunting purposes), the Edwardian Class (comprising vehicles from the turn of 20th century to 1919) and the Limousine Class. “Other classes that have already been introduced at previous editions are the Indian Heritage Class and the Purdah Class (automobiles that had tinted glass windows and netting in keeping with the purdah practice),” Singh said.

The event also saw the owners of the automobiles on display at the preview, express their love for their proud possessions. Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director, The Express Group, who owns the 1934 Packard Tourer, said that all his vintage cars were in absolute running condition. “Three of my cars — a 1926 Chrysler, a 1933 Studebaker and a 1949 Chevrolet convertible — will be part of the Concours 2013,” he said. Yash Ruia, owner of the 1947 MG TC and 1947 Rolls Royce Wraith, said that a vintage car’s appeal lies in its originality and working condition. “The availability of spare parts plays an important role when I decide to acquire a vintage car,” he said.

According to Singh, the competition notwithstanding, the show is ultimately about presenting India to the world. “We will have an international jury comprising eminent personalities and experts, such as John Todd (of the Todd Corporation), Gordon Murray (designer of F1 cars) and Stirling Moss (former F1 driver). The idea is not just to showcase luxury makes, but cars that speak of Indian heritage too,” he said.

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