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When one thinks of Indian royalty, it’s images of sprawling palaces, record-breaking jewels, and indulgent lifestyles that come to mind. What was equally a part of it, and continues to be, are the best and rarest automobiles; cars that can even outshine jewellery.

Cartier has been celebrating this automotive heritage of India for over a decade now. In 2008, it hosted the first ever international Cartier Travel With Style 2019 Concours D’Elegance at the Royal Western India Turf Club in Mumbai, followed by editions in Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad over the years. The most recent one was held this past weekend in Jaipur.

Image: Courtesy Pranav Bhasin

At the historical Rambagh Palace, the Mughal Gardens hosted some of the most beautiful vintage cars, with enthusiasts, patrons, and private collectors in attendance. There were 86 classic automobiles from nine distinctive classes and 26 motorcycles from three signatures classes at the display.

The Concours D’Elegance is a prestigious event celebrating the best of vintage cars; bringing automobile aficionados on one platform. The idea is to award restoration efforts of the owners who invest capital and research in the upkeep of these cars.

The panel of judges for the exhibit comprised of world’s leading designers, industrialists, and most knowledgeable collectors of classic cars, including Chief Judge Simon Kidston, an authority on heritage automobiles (he also serves as a judge at Pebble Beach Concours); Sandra Button,chairman of Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance; Charles Richmond, Duke of Richmond & Gordon;Stefano Domenicali, chairman and chief executive officer of Automobili Lamborghini; and Lorenzo Ramaciotti, president of the Jury at Concors D’Eleganza Villa dÉste since 2005 and HH Rana Manvendra Singh Barwani, who curated the event.

L-R : Christophe Massoni, CEO Cartier Middle East, Africa & India, Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur, HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, HH Princess Diya Kumari of Jaipur, and HH Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur

“For each edition, we try to raise the bar higher by introducing new categories and elements that augment the visual montage of India’s automotive legacy,” said HH Rana Manvendra Singh Barwani. “These automobiles truly display the distinct culture of how we travelled in India. This kind of a unique exhibit makes Cartier Travel with Style truly special on the global concours map.”

Each car at the event was a vintage wonder. There was a 1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible (exhibited under ‘Ford Thunderbird’ class), currently owned by His Highness HH Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh, and a 1968 28 0S Mercedes Saloon, the last car driven by the late Maharani Gayatri Devi. The 1922 Ansaldo-Tipo F received the prestigious Cartier Resurrection Cup, while the 1906 Renault-8HP received the Judges Cup. The beauty that was the 1951 Standard-Vanguard Phase 1 was the winner of the Mark Shand Adventurer Trophy, while the 1947 Chevrolet-Fleetmaster was adjudged the Best In Class–Preservation award.

The 1935 Rolls Royce – Phantom 2 – Continental at Cartier Travel With Style. (Centre) Amir Jetha, its owner.

It was, however, a 1935 Rolls Royce -Phantom 2-Continental – the last Rolls Royce Continental that exists today – which won the Best Car of the Show.

In the motorcycle category, a 1940 Indian-Junior Scout got the Best Motorcycle of the Show award.

Over the past decade, Cartier ‘Travel with Style’ has intrigued classic car collectors all over the globe, and put India at the forefront of historical automobiles. World-renowned vintage car shows such as Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, USA, and Salon Retro Mobile, France, have featured categories for cars originally sold to Indian owners, more specifically the erstwhile rulers. The event has intrigued vintage car enthusiasts and has played an important role in enhancing the global benchmark of vehicle restoration standards. One look at the efficiently curated edit of cars showshow automobiles restored in India easily match exacting international standards.

Rambagh Palace, Jaipur. Image: Courtesy Pranav Bhasin

“These unique, historical cars are precious treasures of India, just as Cartier jewels are to Maharajas,” says Christophe Massoni, CEO, Cartier Middle East, Africa & India. “This magnificent event highlights the heritage, the transmission and a unique sense of beauty, and values that are so dear to India and deeply carved in Cartier’s DNA.”

 

Video: Pranav Bhasin

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.