|Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost with chassis 2517|
No doubt there were other luxury cars like the Maybach and Porsche, but the Rolls Royce commanded a unique place among the Indian Princely rulers who had a voracious appetite for quirky designs. There existed a perfect match between Indian rulers and the RR car company who were flexible and be ready to customize the new car according to their whims and fancies. This right business approach plus flexibility made the car company a popular one among the Indian rulers. It has to be admitted that Maharajahs were equally responsible for the popularity of RR cars across the globe in the early years of company's operations. As for their weird custom made RR for their various activities, Indian Media commented that eccentricity and ludicrous extravagance was a hallmark of India's erstwhile royal families. Yes, it is true.
Indian Maharajahs' quirks and their passion for Rolls Royce cars (contd):
01. By late 1920s, there were hundreds of RR owned by the princely Indian rulers, for whom money was not a matter of concern, rather, their position/status via-a-vis their counter parts. Their craze for the luxury car was literally bordering on madness. At one point of time, there was almost no Indian ruler who did not own a model or two of RR. In order to mark them out and to establish their individual taste and rank, they went for extravagant customization of RR
|Ruler of Nabha, Punjab. Swan Rolls Royce Narthaki|
|Mewar ruler. Rajasthan RR 20 HP Autocar India|
02. Maharajah of Nabha, Punjab had his RR customized to look like a swan at the front of the car to get publicity and admiration. When the ruler rode the car, it gave a thrill to the locals.
03. Most expensive RR ever built was RR in 1934 for Maharajah of Rajkot (Gujarat) Dharmendra Sinhji Lakhajiraj. It was repossessed by his grandson Prince Jadeja in 2010 by paying a huge price - whopping Rs. 3.2 crores.
04. Some rulers could assemble extra-fittings like foot board for servants, high power light lamps (to dazzle and blind the tiger to make the hunting easier), rifle holders or hand-cranked machine guns etc., to use RR for hunting with English gentlemen.
1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom “Tiger Hunter” built for for Sahib Bahadur, the Maharajah of Kotah, and has a rifle stand, Lantaka cannon, nickel-plated snake horn, two brass searchlights, and a machine gun. Wealthy maharajahs by buying exotic cars in large numbers kept the British automobile industry going.
|A rare RR Phantom-for tiger hunting, ruler of Kotah in.reuters.com|
|Rolls with hunting rifle .narthaki.com|
06. Umed Singh II, Maharajah of Kota, who was well-known for royal hunting with the British had his 1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom fitted with guns and cannons, searchlights and safes to be used deep in the dark jungle.
07. The Indian Maharajas were enamored with the RR cars to such an extent that some of them placed orders in bundles every few years, but their individual exotic tastes never showed any sign of decline. The Maharajah of patiala, Bhupinder Singh (the famous harem man) once ordered more than 20 RR in bulk, but the company refused to accept the order. The ruler was in rage, then the British rulers forced the RR company to oblige the Maharajah's request.
08. It was in 1907, the wealthy Indian rulers got the best impression on the RR car and trusted its reliability and engineering excellence when a 40/50 hp Silver Ghost won a 620-mile trial run, covering very tough terrains, including six mountain passes between Bombay and Kolhapur, a part of the Deccan Plateau made of Basaltic rocks. After winning the confidence of Indian elite, RR company moved into the Indian sub continent and opened show rooms in Bombay, Calcutta, and Delhi.
|9125 Rolls-Royce Phantom I, built for the maharajah of Jodhpur. http://robbreport.com|