The Taj Group of Hotels unveiled Udaipur’s ‘City Palace Collection of Vintage & Classic Cars’ to the Asian market recently. The Vintage & Classic Car Collection is like a museum with a difference, as all the vehicles on show have belonged to the Maharanas of Mewar, both past and present. Despite some vehicles being over seventy years old, each one has been painstakingly restored and exhibited for discerning vintage & classic car aficionados.
The historical collection of 20 cars belonged to Udaipur’s previous three Maharanas, who were avid motoring enthusiasts. The pick of the exhibits on display are the magnificent set of four Rolls-Royces. The first is a 1924 Rolls-Royce 20H.P. This car was awarded the ‘Best of Class Category, Vintage Classic in the Cartier Travel with Style Concours’ in November 2008. In addition, there is a 1934 Rolls-Royce 20-25H.P that was originally a limousine and was later converted into a pick-up by Maharana Bhagawat Singh mainly to transport the cricket team to and from the grounds. There is also a 1930/31 Rolls-Royce 20-25 H.P that was originally a Tourer and was later converted to Shooting Brake by Maharana Bhagawat Singh. Today the thought of shooting or bussing a cricket team in a Rolls Royce would seem a little extreme, but it is precisely this history that makes these cars so alluring. The remaining one is a 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II that was bought by the 76th. Custodian House of Mewar, Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur. The Phantom II is perhaps the finest car on view and as unique a vehicle as one could find.
The garage also houses two enormous 1938 Cadillacs that are still used on special occasions and come as a pair. The four-door Convertible is the Maharana’s car, while the Saloon is for the use of the Maharani, hence the curtains in the rear windows. Family crests adorn the rear doors of both Cadillacs, adding a further royal touch to these two majestic automobiles.
Of the remainder of the collection the bright red 1946 MG-TC convertible stands out. For lovers of sports cars, admiring this speed machine is a must. Most of the other cars are rather more sedate, however. Yet vehicles such as the 1930 Ford-A Convertible or the Vauxhall-12 are no less remarkable, if only because they have so much more panache than the cars now produced by those companies. They are delightful examples of the golden age of motoring.
Says Shyam Kaikini, General Manager, Taj Lake Palace, “The Taj Group of Hotels is so pleased to introduce The Vintage & Classic Car Collection in Udaipur to the Asian market. These incredibly well kept historical cars form part of Udaipur’s proud history as the leading Rajputana state during the time of the Maharanas. Each car was owned and used by an Udaipur Maharana, which makes them of particular interest to car aficionados across the world and particularly in Asia, where there has been an enormous growth in vintage & classic cars in recent years.”
The Vintage & Classic Car Collection is housed in the original former Mewar State Motor Garage, a glorious setting for such a fine assortment of vehicles. The bougainvillea coated Garden Hotel and Restaurant, a property of HRH Group of Hotels, Udaipur, is also contained within the garage’s grounds. The semi-circular motor garage with its forecourt is housed within a greater courtyard, creating a pleasant hideaway from the bustle of the streets. One of the original Shell petrol pump is not only still standing, but also in a usable condition. The motor garage itself was built at a time when the only cars in town belonged to the Mewar State Motor Garage and the present day surroundings make this garage as wonderfully stylish as it must always have been.