Classic and Vintage cars form an important part of a countries history and heritage. Not only does it tell you how the people of the past travelled, more often than not it also tells you about the tastes, preferences and of course, creativity of the original car owner in case of custom bodies. And that is why we think it is apt to count down India’s greatest vintage and classic cars on the occasion of out country’s Independence Day today. This list of course is a personal preference and in case you think we have forgotten a particular car or should add/remove a car from this list, we would love to hear from you on our Facebook, Twitter and of course, Instagram social media accounts. So lets get straight into that list.
1. 1935 Delahaye 135MS
What is without a shadow of a doubt, the most beautiful and possibly the most valuable classic car in the country is this absolutely stunning 1935 Delahaye 135MS owned Dalip Singh from the Royal Family of Jodhpur. Stunning custom coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi and one of 5 surviving cars in world (only 11 were ever made), this stunning Delahaye has royal lineage all through its illustrious history. This Delahaye also won the first ever Cartier Concourse d’Elegance in Mumbai a decade ago and sealed its place in Indian automotive history.
2. 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental
While the Delahaye is stunning, this is my personal favourite of all cars in this list, mainly because I have been lucky enough to see this car up close for years before and after its immaculate restoration. Stunning proportions, unmatched road presence and a sheer orgasm of lines and details, this Gurney Nutting bodied Phantom II is the only one of its kind in the country. This is also the car that has been featured on the official artwork for the upcoming 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Although 6 Phantom II Continentals made it to India, only one, this, survives and is incidentally also the last P2 Continental ever made. Bearing the chassis number 62UK, this is possibly the only car in the country that can match the sheer beauty of the Delahaye.
3. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
The only post war car in this list is this absolutely stunning and very famous Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster. The only 300SL known to exist in India, this droptop supercar from the 50s has been owned by the royal family of Gondal since brand new and has been driven hard and raced successfully too! The 300SL was one of the most expensive and fastest cars of its time and with speeds of over 200 kmph a breeze for this 60 year old sportscar, it will keep up with a fair few cars today too. The royal family of Gondal has always been massive petrolheads and the 300SL roadster shares its garage with its modern brethren, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG – a definitive future classic in its own right too.
4. 1925 Hispano Suiza H6B
While the Rolls-Royce was the preferred car of choice for the Maharajas in pre-independent India, a select few Royals indulged in brands like Hispano-Suiza due to their sheer technological prowess. The one you see here, a 1925 H6B is the most beautiful Hispano-Suiza in the country and a very important car globally as it is the only surviving chassis with Saoutchik bodywork. This H6B was originally owned by the Maharaja Of Mysore and is now in possession of the Geedee Museum in Coimbatore and has been restored beautifully. The car also has a very very unique body style called ‘La Transformable 6 Glaces’, which allows it to be used with the roof closed, or as a landaulet or as a full cabriolet depending on the owner’s wishes.
5. 1931 Lancia Dilambda
A Lancia Dilambda in the top 5 list? Surely there are several Bentleys, Mercedes-Benz, Maybach creations that deserve to be here instead. Well, yes and no. While there are cars that are important, and if I ever extend this list to a top 10, I would surely add them in, in my opinion, there is a BIG reason this particular car deserves to be in the top 5. This is the earliest Pininfarina bodied car in India and also, one of the earliest Pininfarina bodied cars in the world! And if that wasn’t enough, this Lancia Dilambda is a single family owned car since brand new! While the India connection for this car from new is a fantastic piece of it’s history, with Pininfarina now owned by Mahindra and essentially an ‘Indian’ brand, that only makes this car’s presence in this top 5 list completely justified.