Sachin’s Ferrari Flies In, Minus Import Duty

Aug 10 2003, 00:00 IST
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Wear sun-shades, or a blaze of red on the city’s roads could dazzle you one of these days.

Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari 360 Modena - gifted to him by Formula One champ Michael Schumacher - has arrived. The gleaming vehicle also sports a heavy duty accessory, a waiver of import duty by the Union government. If Tendulkar had paid, he’d have been poorer by a whopping Rs 1.6 crore.

The charmer was flown in aboard an Air France cargo flight on Thursday night and quietly sneaked away in the dark of night. But not to La Mer in Bandra, where the star lives.

An employee of the Tendulkars’ who answered the phone would only say ‘‘Gaadi abhi tak ghar nahin aaya’’. (The car hasn’t come home.) An official at the Customs Comm-issionerate confirmed the Italian mean machine’s arrival.

The duty waiver was a “small gesture” on the part of minister for Communication Pramod Mahajan when Tendulkar played his 100th Test at The Oval in London, in September 2002. Responding to a letter from the batsman, Mahajan got finance minister Jaswant Singh to grant the waiver. The duty was waived on the basis of Section 25 of the Customs Act, 1962, which allows the Centre to grant duty exemptions in public interest.

Once the Ferrari is in his garage, Sachin will join the ranks of leading cricket stars, like former India captains Ravi Shastri — proud winner of an Audi at Australia in 1985, Mohammad Azharuddin — drove a sports coupe version of the Mercedes, former England all-rounder Ian Botham — drove a Porsche and former Australia opening batsman Michael Slater — who had his Ferrari number-plated MS ‘356’ only to be told later that he was Test player No 357, while 356 was his colleague Brendon Julian. What registration number would Tendulkar want for his prized possession? The number of Test centuries he makes, perhaps.

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