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The “Star of In­dia”



From the early days of mo­tor­ing, Rolls-Royce cars have been favourites of the Ma­hara­jahs of In­dia. The rulers of the prein­de­pen­dence princely states had con­sid­er­able wealth and were in­clined to spend it, on clothes, jew­ellery, royal palaces, and fine mo­tor cars.

So it was in 1934 that His High­ness Dhar­men­dras­in­hji Lakha­ji­raj, the Thakore Sahib (Lord) of Ra­jkot, de­cided to re­place his 20-year-old Rolls-Royce with a new one – not just any Rolls-Royce, but one that has be­come renowned as the “Star of In­dia,” named for the fa­mous 563-carat star sap­phire.

Dhar­men­dras­in­hji Lakha­ji­raj, the el­dest son of Lakha­ji­raj III Bawa­ji­raj, be­came ruler upon the death of his fa­ther and promptly or­dered a RollsRoyce Phan­tom II to re­place the 1909 Barker-bod­ied Sil­ver Ghost open-drive lan­daulet that he had in­her­ited from his fa­ther. Chas­sis 188PY was duly com­pleted at the Rolls-Royce works at Derby and dis­patched to London coach­builders Thrupp and Maberly for a hand­some and strik­ing all-weather cabri­o­let body.

Fin­ished most lav­ishly, the “Star of In­dia” all but dis­ap­peared with­out a trace af­ter the death of the Ma­hara­jah in 1940, and only resur­faced in 1965 when Bri­tish col­lec­tor, Bill Mered­ith-Owens, found the car while ad­ven­tur­ing in Ra­jkot.

Af­ter much ne­go­ti­a­tion, he fi­nally ex­ported the car to the UK three years later, where it re­mained in his car un­til his death in the 1980s.

Chang­ing hands over the years, the “Star of In­dia” was most re­cently ac­quired by Mand­hatas­inh Jadeja, a for­mer prince of Ra­jkot and an ac­tual grand­son of the orig­i­nal Ma­hara­jah. Jadeja brought the enig­matic Rolls-Royce as a present to his fa­ther on his 75th birth­day, ef­fec­tively bring­ing the multi-mil­lion dol­lar Rolls Royce back to the fam­ily for the first time since it left the fam­ily’s own­er­ship in 1968.

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