Si­mon Kid­ston Back from con­cours-judg­ing in In­dia, Si­mon muses the mer­its of us­ing au­to­mo­biles as rolling thrones

Si­mon re­sists the urge to put his hand in his pocket for a pair of glam­orous clas­sics in Ari­zona, and sits on the Throne of mo­tor­ing ex­cess in Hy­der­abad

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents -

So that was Ari­zona: a whirl­wind of auc­tions to open the sea­son but, if truth be told, noth­ing you’d re­ally want to take home. Con­clu­sions? A dealer joked that Fer­rari Day­tonas should now come with a cer­tifi­cate of un­saleabil­ity, and the re­cent frenzy for Porsche 993 GT2S seemed to evap­o­rate just as sud­denly as it had erupted. ‘Blue chip’ pre-war sports cars such as the del­i­cate Bu­gatti Type 35 and Alfa Romeo 6C 1750, or thun­der­ing Mercedes-benz S-type and ri­val Bent­ley 4½ Litre con­founded those who think the glory days of this market are num­bered, show­ing there’s life yet in the wealthy sil­ver-haired ty­coons (and hum­ble me) who un­der­pin de­mand for them.

Ac­tu­ally, I was briefly tempted by two un­sold cars: a Rolls-royce Phan­tom II dual-cowl tourer, and an art-deco-in­spired Bent­ley 3½ Litre Sedanca Coupé. You could own the pair for the price of a masspro­duced Dino. ‘But what would you do with them?’ was a valid ques­tion from a friend. I can think of lots of things ex­cept eas­ily find a buyer when you’ve had your fun, so I kept my pow­der dry. Prob­a­bly for a Dino.

My trav­el­ogue con­tin­ues days later at 39,000 feet be­tween the palaces of Jodh­pur and Hy­der­abad in In­dia. The Ma­hara­jah of the for­mer still lives in the domed 347-room digs built by his grand­fa­ther, whose car col­lec­tion is kept at the ready by uni­formed re­tain­ers who have never heard of Peb­ble Beach and prob­a­bly have no no­tion there is any bet­ter way to travel than in His High­ness’s Phan­tom II.

Tonight, upon ar­rival in Hy­der­abad to judge the Cartier Travel with Style Con­cours d’el­e­gance, the most ex­otic and al­most spir­i­tual gath­er­ing of its kind, the con­tender I’m most look­ing for­ward to see­ing was also built for the lo­cal ruler, a class whose one-up­man­ship in their hey­day put Europe’s merely wealthy to shame. The ‘Throne Car’ is pos­si­bly the least po­lit­i­cally cor­rect mode of trans­port ever, but when you’re the Nizam of Hy­der­abad, said to be the world’s rich­est man and the owner of ev­ery­thing you sur­vey, why not?

Th­ese days the Nizam’s heirs spend more time in Lon­don’s fash­ion­able Not­ting Hill Gate and Eaton Square, so the Throne Car doesn’t get out quite as much. It is, af­ter all, a Rolls-royce Sil­ver Ghost – ‘The best car in the world’ – with coach­work de­signed to carry, er, one VIP, at pa­rade­wav­ing pace in silk-up­hol­stered lux­ury. If you think mod­ern su­per­cars are pam­pered, this cen­te­nar­ian has cov­ered barely 400 miles. Yes, from new.

And now it’s all over. We’re taxi­ing for take-off just a few hours af­ter award­ing the sil­ver­ware to the stars of In­dia’s young, new col­lect­ing van­guard. The Throne Car daz­zled, but a hum­bler con­tender un­ex­pect­edly stole the show for me. Dis­cov­ered as a rust­ing hulk un­der a hedge in As­sam and un­recog­nis­able as the only Bris­tol 400 sold to In­dia, it was bought for a few hun­dred pounds. No sane per­son would have touched it, but there’s a de­ity here who in­spires their ‘no ob­sta­cles’ at­ti­tude: Ganesh. Last night the Bris­tol roared on to the win­ner’s ramp to re­ceive the Res­ur­rec­tion award. Even more re­mark­able? The whole project took eight months. ‘Less time than it takes to make a baby,’ smiles the owner. In­cred­i­ble In­dia. Si­mon Kid­ston is a clas­sic car con­sul­tant, con­cours judge and event pre­sen­ter. His own clas­sics in­clude a Lam­borgh­ini Miura SV and Porsche 911 RS 2.7.

Get­ting up close and per­sonal with the Throne Car was a high­light of Si­mon’s visit to Hy­der­abad

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