Parsis: The Zoroastrians of India Pakistan and The World

Marespand Dadachanji’s Restored Cars Win at Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance

Our dearest friend Marespand Aspandiar Dadachanji, ace vintage car restorer wins 1st and 3rd positions at the Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance.

Top Indian automotive journalist and good friend of Parsi Khabar Adil Jal Darukhanawala writes…

“Crowning glory for one of India’s most respected & capable restorer of vintage & classic cars Marespand A. Dadachanji. “His” cars took first & 3rd in class plus also won the Lucius Beebe Trophy for most impressive Rolls-Royce at Pebble Beach yesterday. First place went to Amir Ali Jetha’s magnificent 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental with Gurney-Nutting coachwork as ordered by the Maharaja of Jodhpur. Third place went to Jagdish Thackersey’s Bentley 3.5-litre carrying coachwork by Antem of France as ordered by the Maharaja of Telcher. @evoIndia @FastBikesIndia”

At the Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance

Motor Cars of the Raj will take center stage at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Most of these cars were sold into India when they were new, during the period of British rule, and many remain there. The art for our entry application was inspired by this 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental by Gurney Nutting, which was initially made for the Royal Family of Jodhpur. It has been lovingly cared for by its current owner, who will be bringing it to Pebble Beach from Mumbai.

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Five cars from Mumbai are competing in the world famous annual beauty contest for vintage automobiles — the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California.

Article by Srinivasan Krishnan

Members of Mumbai’s vintage and classic car community usually hang out on Sunday mornings near Horniman Circle in Fort. They swap notes, catch up on car talk, get tips on restorations and gently rib each other about their prized possessions. The reflections of the lavish, Italian-Gothic-influenced buildings and the severe lines of St Thomas Cathedral highlight the swoopy shapes of the diverse set of old cars that are parked all around — the objects of their affection.
But today, five cars that belong to certain members of the community are parked far away from Horniman Circle and will be found on the other side of the planet. To be specific, in the hushed environs of the 18th Fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links in the Monterey Peninsula of California, USA, with the mighty Pacific Ocean serving as the backdrop. They are competing againtst each other and a bunch of other formidable competitors in the world’s most famous beauty contest for vintage and classic cars, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

This prestigious event was first organised in 1950 and is held annually.

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Businessman Abbas Jasdanwala’s 1923 Lanchester 40HP

Car collectors finesse their priceless possessions down to the last nut-andbolt and ship them to his event. Then they lavish their cars with high quality spit-and-polish and display them at the course while competing across various categories. A highly qualified jury evaluates the cars based on their styling, technical brilliance, history, originality as well as their levels of restoration. Some of the finest, exotic and rarest cars ever built in the 135-odd years of automotive history can be seen at the Pebble Beach Concours.
This year, it’s rather special, as one of the seven major categories is ‘Motor Cars of the Raj’. India has had a long automotive history and some of the most exceptional cars ever built made their way here, gracing the garages of maharajas and nobles spread across the subcontinent. These cars were put together based on the specifications of the royalty, reflecting their tastes, requirements, preferences, idiosyncrasies and even eccentricities. All of which made them rather unique in the world of vintage and classic automobiles.
Manvendra Singh Barwani is a well-regarded name in Indian and international heritage car circles. Singh, who is also an author and restorer, is the curator of the cars that are participating in this category as well an honorary judge at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. “After the success of this Class in 2012, the organisers felt that the show attendees really enjoyed the cars, their uniqueness, their stories… So they reached out to me to see if it was feasible to do the Class again and get the cars from India. The entries offer a good selection of the type of cars that came to India and various body styles,” Singh says.
Of the 11 cars participating in the Motor Cars of the Raj category, nine are from India, and five from Mumbai. All the cars in this category have a royal provenance, which means they have either been ordered or owned by Indian royalty in the past. City businessman Nishant N Dossa’s 1936 Alvis Speed 25 is one of them. “There were very few 3.5-litre Alvis Speed 25s produced and this car was specially ordered by the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj (Odisha),” he says. Dossa reels off more details, “The car was ordered from the Alvis dealer in London and delivered to Mayurbhanj royalty in January 1936. While Alvis supplied the chassis, the beautiful Sports Tourer body style was built on it by the famous coachbuilding firm of Vanden Plas.”

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The 1936 Alvis Speed 25 belongs to SoBo resident Nishant Dossa (inset)

Joining the Alvis are four other Mumbai cars: a 1923 Lanchester 40 HP, a seven-seat tourer once owned by the royal family of Gondal in Gujarat; a oneoff 1921 Fiat 501 S Corsa which is modelled after a Fiat racing car of the 1920s and ordered by an impressed Maharaja of Patiala who actually saw the racing car in action in Europe; a 1935 Bentley 3.5-litre featuring a sports drophead coupe body style built by the French coachbuilding firm Antem and which was purchased by the Maharaja of Talcher (Odisha) in 1942; and finally, a 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental with a swoopy streamline coupe body style by Gurney Nutting, UK. This Rolls-Royce is supposed to be the last of its type ever built and was originally ordered by the Maharaja of Jodhpur.
Businessman Abbas Jasdanwala, who has an enviable collection of cars which are restored and maintained at his own facility, Midtown Motors in Byculla, is pretty chuffed to be taking his Lanchester to Pebble Beach. “All my cars are like dreams come true, but I felt that my Lanchester would be the car that will be appreciated the most. It is mechanically perfect, totally trouble-free,” he says. The Lanchester was a technological tour de force of its era and was equal to, if not better than Rolls-Royce, when it came to refinement and sophistication. “When you get a chance to display your cars at such an event, it’s a rare opportunity. This is the first time I am going to Pebble Beach and I am especially happy that my young grandson will be there, as he is also passionate like me about cars,” says Jasdanwala.
Nitin Dossa, the father of Nishant, who is also chairman of the Vintage and Classic Car Federation of India, says, “It’s a great honour that there are five cars selected from Mumbai of the nine cars from India that are participating in this category. I am sure we will make India proud.” Meanwhile, at Horniman Circle, the tension and excitement will be palpable this morning.

The author writes about vintage and classic cars. He tweets @SriniKay

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The 1921 Fiat Corsa was once owned by the maharaja of Patiala