Search ads by make

Previous Features

The Maharajas and their magnificent motor cars

maharaja-haynes-7Book review by Michael E. Ware: This is a coffee table sized book containing over 500 photographs both historic and modern of cars that were once owned by the maharajas. The author, a well-known Indian classic car journalist Gautam Sen looks at these cars as they are today. In many cases they have moved on to other owners and collectors, a few have escaped from India. Besides the photographs most of which are of high quality, there is a great deal of written information, not only about the cars but about the maharajas and their families and their lives during the times of the Raj. Of course there are many Rolls-Royce in the book, but...
so many other makes, such as Hispano Suiza, Bentley, Chrysler, Maybach, Daimler, Delage, Delahaye, Studebaker, Auburn and Cord. What will surprise many are the much cheaper cars that appear, a number of MGs, two stunningly restored Standard Avons, and a Healey Westland. There is specials coach work galore. One by Figoni and Falashi on the 135 Delayhaye of Maharaj Dalip Singh, and the sumptuous interior of the H6C Hispano Suiza of the Maharaja of Alwar, then there is the fabulous Talbot Lago T150 C-55 sports which was a wedding present for Stella de Kapurthala. There are some surprises, a beautifully restored Invicta Black Prince, a Rolls-Royce 20 rebodied in a jeep style to carry the local cricket team (it must have been a squash for them) and a picture of a 1906 Mors with completely wrong wheels and tyres and an awful replacement body.

The book would not be complete without a chapter on the incredible Swan car built by Brooke of Lowestoft in 1910 for Scotty Mathewson an eccentric Englishman living in India later passing to the Maharaja of Nabha and now fully restored in all its odd habits in the Evert Louwman collection in The Hague.

If you cannot afford this book, ask for it for a birthday present, I am sure you will enjoy it.

The Maharajas and their magnificent motor cars” by Gautam Sen is published by Haynes and priced at £40


#2 2011-06-24 13:26
A couple of years ago I acquired a Chevy 1946 4 door tourer specially built for His Highness Maharaja Karni Singhji Bahadur of the former State of Bikaner(now in Rajasthan)India .The original registration No. was BIKANER 12
The most interesting part of this car is the facility to individually lower down the divided wind screen Brass Frame to enable the Maharaja to shoot the animals even while sitting in the car.And then of course there are a couple of in built tables to serve drinks and snacks besides there being a bar for the bottles and a separate chest for wine glasses.
While restoring this car i have taken every care to maintain the originality of these unique features and i love then the most.
Some photos are being sent.
Ravi Kapur
#1 2011-06-07 08:18
This is indeed an enthralling book, and I am proud that my Lancia based racer is pictured on page 28. The book also covers some collections in India. Many cars and collectors are left out, leaving room for a second volume. The book also contains lots of newly seen old photographs.
Strange as it may seem, there has been quite a lot of feedback from past owners and/ or their descendants adding new material, sometimes with photos, and sometimes there are corrections. Indeed there are some errors, and one can say that the book caused new informations to surface.
About some cars mentioned above, the Mors did have a monocle glass mounted on the steering column which was stolen. And the Swan car was smuggled, illegally exported from India for which I believe some dealers did jail time. India has a total number of four known Standard Avons and these two, which were present at the recent Cartier event in Delhi are no 3 and 4.

Cheers Harit Trivedi

Add comment