Vintage cars, bikes, polo grounds–heady mix of heritage, youth and adventure at
Cartier Travel with Style’ 2015 Concours D’ Elegance
It was raining cars and bikes at the Jaipur Polo Ground in Delhi. The day shone with Cadillacs, Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Imperial, Minerva, some glistened in the afternoon, others were brightly decorated, yet others beckoned with their grand exteriors, curved bonnets, huge headlamps, shining glasses, long bodies, some were roofless, some went back to the early 1900s, old Harley Davidsons, some out of the black and white country movies. Old they were, but no one seemed to mind for they had all gone through an anti-ageing, rejuvenating and restoration process. It was the fourth edition of the Cartier ‘Travel with Style’ Concours D’Elegance 2015.
- I like vintage cars as they sweep me off my feet.
- Vintage cars take me back on a nostalgic journey, back to my youth.
- Vintage cars are like vintage wine, they age beautifully.
- They are sexy, smooth, dignified, classy and full of memories.
- They look cool.
- They are cars with heritage, tradition and style. The classic beauties, machines which reflect the passion of the owner.
- Vintage shows the high standards of the person.
- Vintage has an old world charm.
- Each car is so unique, that each is a piece of art with a life of its own.
So old is gold and India loves to celebrate its heritage. Little wonder then since its inception in 2008, the biannual Cartier ‘Travel with Style’ Concours D’Elegance has put India at par with international car exhibits such as Cartier ‘Style Et Luxe’, the ‘Villa D’Este Concorsa D’Eleganza’ and the ‘Pebble Beach Concours D’Elégance’.
Talking to man behind the heritage selection and celebration, India’s automotive expert Manvendra Singh of Barwani, I discovered that Indian vintage beauties are now ready for the international arena. Excerpts from our conversation:
How many vintage cars do you have?
I only have one or two. God has been kind to me. As the custodian of such an event, people are willing to hand me the key to any beauty. Why would I want to own any more classics?
How long does it take to curate this event?
It’s a journey of16 months, as this is a biannual event. Every year we need new cars and sometimes owners need to be convinced to showcase their cars. They are hesitant. This year we have the models of the Ambassador car by Hindustan Motors as the Indian Heritage Car.
What is the criteria for exhibiting the car?
They have to be Indian cars with Indian history. They have to be restored in India. A car restored anywhere else or without any Indian history is not acceptable.
Are Indian vintage cars now going to be seen at international circuits too?
We are lucky, we had some famous car designers and judges for this event. Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance Sandra Button said that Indian cars are now ready to compete in the international arena.
So when are you planning to take it abroad?
This would depend on the Cartier management. I am just a caretaker.
What about bikes? How did you find them?
I am more of a car person. The bikes were curated by my friend David.
Do vintage cars make for good investment?
They certainly do as they have resale value. The good part I see now is that the younger generation is also taking an interest in this. This is not so in Europe where the car collectors belonged to the 1930s and 1940s.
Do you think there is scope for exhibition of vintage bicycles too?
There are exhibitions in Europe and US. It could work here too.
What has been the most memorable moment as an automotive expert and curator?
I was invited to the Pebble Beach Concours D’ Elegance to judge and will be going again this year. This is a good opportunity to meet the finest car designers and collectors. The best of the world is there.
Vintage is gold, precious and rewarded too. Cartier Travel With Style 2015 showcased 82 classic automobiles and 32 best preserved motorcycles. The exhibit was judged by world’s leading designers, successful industrialists and collectors of classic cars. The Best Car of the Show was 1933 Minerva AL 40HP owned by Diljeet Titus and the Best Motorcycle of the show was 1936 Royal Enfield 500cc owned by Parvinder Singh. Other noted awards went to 1952 CZ-Jawa 250cc for Mark Shand Adventure Trophy and 1920 Moon Model 6-42 owned by Shrivardhan Kanoria awarded the special Resurrection Cup.