Classic people

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The characters you meet at a classic car show! The second edition of the Cartier ‘Travel With Style’ Concours got over last weekend in New Delhi and I am still reeling. Each of the mind-boggling cars - 56 of them - spread across a section of the Jaipur Polo Club grounds was mind-numbing. Makes you think, rethink and think again about the vast classic car treasure trove that is India.

Of course, if you want to get a detailed report of this fabulous show, you’ll have to pick up the forthcoming April issue of the magazine. Here, I’d like to tell you about the terrific people I met at the show – individuals from various backgrounds who are united because of their love for these old-timers.

Manvendra Singh Barwani

As the ad line went, the name is enough. This man should be given one of India’s Padma awards for chronicling, restoring and maintaining our automotive heritage. Manvendra of course is the curator of the show and just when you think you’ve seen all the great cars in the country, he’ll pull out not one, not two, but 56 more! Manvendra is a storehouse of classic and vintage car knowledge. God bless him!

Diljeet Titus

Now I have no idea how the head of an important legal firm has the time to spend on old-timers. But he manages somehow, and does a terrific job of it. Titus is passionate about keeping our automotive heritage intact, so much so that mere trifles like money are not a problem at all! He has a mind-blowing collection of diverse cars and at this show, he showcased his immaculate 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air and the jaw-dropping 1930 Stutz Series M with a rare dual-cowl speedster bodywork. Titus is one of the rare people who’s not cagey about who touches his cars. Often, he invites schoolchildren to spend a day with his cars, allowing them to get in and out of the cars as they pleased. I don’t allow the kids in my building anywhere near my Beetle, by the way.

T T Raghunathan

This gentleman had two Jaguars entered in the Jaguar class. One was a 1937 2.5-litre tourer and the other was a Series III E-Type V12. I was told that he was present all day at the day before the show, taking care of his cars himself, dusting and wiping them himself. What’s the big deal? Well, he is the executive vice-chairman of the legendary TTK Group, that’s what. The remarkable thing is he worked on the car himself and brought it back to concours condition, right down the Snail brand toolkit. Oh, and he is a regular reader of BSM!

Rajiv Kehr

This businessman has a fascination only for topless models! At the Cartier show in 2008, he had displayed his gorgeous Jaguar XK120. Here, Kehr had an outstanding 1934 Packard Super 8 phaeton with a chromed bonnet and a 1956 Bel Air convertible as well. He has a 1952 Bentley R-Type two-door drophead parked at his place as well. Kehr is frank, friendly and has no airs about him. Terrific guy to talk to.

There were more! Amitabh Adhar, so humble that you wouldn’t know he owned a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith and a 1938 Phantom III, which was displayed at the show. K C Anand, of Anand Automotive Systems, was there with his gorgeous, pillar-less 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300D (‘I have a Corvette, you know?’). Then there was Harshvardhan Singh of the royal house of Dungarpur who showed me the log book of his 1937 Steyr 220 cabriolet, right from the first entry onwards – the Steyr was competing in the preservation class. Mumbai’s Hemant Kumar Ruia and his son Yash, who had a 1947 DeSoto saloon, again in the preservation class – we had featured their MG TC along with the yellow Miata in one of our previous issues. Phew! The cars and the people, I tell you...