Thursday, 28 December 2017

Indian Maharajahs, their quirks and Rolls Royce cars - bewildering facts!! - 02

Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost with chassis 2517
Above image:  The original owner  of the above car was the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, This RR 40/50HP Silver Ghost  fitted with  with a custom made six-seater Torpedo body was ordered  in 1913.  It had a pair of jump-seats and Cobra horn. When it was sold  in 1985  in India,  it was not in good condition due to poor maintenance..........

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

Above image: That's Maharana Arvind Singh Mewar with his prize-winning Rolls-Royce 20HP. Pebble beach car rally, California. Maharajah Pratap Singh's Swan Rolls-Royce 1910 Brooke 25/30-HP swan car & 1919 Cygnet - The Louwman Museum, Holland. Having acquired this one, Maharajah of Nabha also commissioned his garage personnel to build a smaller replica for his children to drive in the palace grounds. Thus came into being the Cygnet, a smaller scaled down rendering of the Brooke but now with electrical power to drive it...................
 

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
05. Maharajah of Rewa once owned a Phantom II Cabriolet "Hunting Car" specially built for him to hunt India's tigers; the "Hunting Car' has a specially designed gun rack built into the chassis. Some were fitted with special bells to fool the big cats on prowl, mistaking the sound for the approaching  heard of cattle. It is something like a man  sitting in the sofa comfortably in the midst of the thick jungle, having his servants drive  the big cat into his close firing range and then firing at him  till the animal  hits the ground. No baiting of the wild animal, no hard ground work and no sweat. What a way to exhibit a ruler's valorand bravery?

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
Above image:  Sir Michael Kadoorie, who owns Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong iis well-known  for a fleet of green Rolls-Royce Phantoms. His collection has a first-series Phantom from 1925, including the one once owned by  the Maharajah of Jodhpur. It’s specially fitted with two mounted 16-gauge shotguns for snipe shooting. “It is one of the nicest driving cars that I have been privileged to be a caretaker of,” Michael says.“

Ref: 
https://www.gqindia.com/content/cars-maharajas-drive-gq-india/#lagonda-v12

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Royal-Royce-tales/articleshow/46810553.cms
 

http://www.narthaki.com/info/bn/bn31.html
 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/4193893/Bejewelled-carriageways.html
 http://www.maharaja.life/