Registering them in Delhi may soon prove impossible. But worldwide, vintage and classic cars and motorcycles aren’t just historical artifacts but also appreciating assets. Thanks to the maharajas, India boasts a massive number of these machines. Firangs happily flew into India and snapped them up to spirit them back home.
A lot has changed since those days. By banning vehicles over 15 years of age in a bid to curb pollution, the government last year condemned these beautiful machines to the garage, display case, or the crushers. After a long court battle, vintage cars more than 50 years old can be used under extremely special conditions. But that’s hardly a victory for fans of the classics, captured beautifully in Gautam Sen’s new coffeetable book, The 101 Automotive Jewels of India.
One of the pioneers of Indian auto journalism, Sen has gone to great lengths to unveil 101 classics that are arguably the best in the country. These cars belong to over 30 collectors, many of whom, surprisingly, are not maharajas at all. An even more massive collection of exquisite cars exists out of the public eye, however, as their owners remain extremely secretive about them and do not want to come into the limelight at all.
(1939) SS 100 JAGUAR
The first SS car to use the Jaguar name, this is the only one to be exported to India
(1930) STUTZ MODEL M4 PASSENGER SPEEDSTER At the time it was bought for restoration, in 2001, the car had done just 10,360 miles
(1932) DELAGE D8 S The car earned the sobriquet of ‘King of the concours’
(1925) FIAT 501S CORSA Was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1980s near Hyderabad. It had a tree going through it
The 101 Automotive Jewels of India by Gautam Sen and Makarand Baokar Heritage Publishers pp 272