Diljeet Titus is converting his rich collection of vintage and classic cars into a museum
There are only eight Minerva Type-AL cars in the world, and Diljeet Titus owns one of them. The 1933 model he purchased from the Raja of Mahmoodabad has gold accessories.
A lawyer and the secretary of Heritage Monitoring Club of India, Titus has 56 vintage cars ranging from a Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Buick and Chevrolet to Auburn, Pierce Arrow and Wolseley. But he regrets not having a Duesenberg.
Titus keeps these cars at his farmhouse in Jaunpura, Mehrauli, where they are restored. “Each car takes a year to restore, and, so far, 26 cars have been restored,” he says. A few cars are also sent out for restoration. The restoration cost is between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 12 lakh. While restoring a car, all the parts are removed and each of them is checked thoroughly. If an original part is not working properly, it is bought from the market or fabricated. The restored car also needs to be maintained well. The annual cost of regular maintenance of a car is around Rs 25,000. But if it develops a problem, the cost rises.
Titus is now turning his collection into a 22,000-square feet museum — The Titus Museum of Transportation & Collectibles. There will be no pillars in the museum to ensure smooth movement of cars. Expected to be complete by the end of the next year, it will be open to public from Monday to Saturday without any charge.
Titus began his collection in 2001. His first purchase was a 1947 Austin. He bought cars from princes, dealers and collectors. The oldest in his collection is a 1919 Wolseley and the most expensive is a 1938 Rolls Royce, which he purchased from actress Mumtaz.
The longest is a pink Pierce Arrow. His latest purchase is a 1934 Buick, which is being restored. Now, he is looking for an elusive 1930 Cadillac. Among all these cars, a black Ambassador owned by his father occupies pride of place.
His cars were used in last year’s Formula 1 event at Noida — Narain Karthikeyan drove a Buick and Michael Schumacher drove a Stutz.
Titus calls collecting cars an “investment hobby”. “Whenever you sell the car, you get more than the amount you spent in purchasing, restoring and maintaining it,” he says. But he says owners of vintage cars forge emotional