Cars have fascinated Diljeet Titus since his school days. As a 6-year-old, he used to spend a lot of time dusting, cleaning and washing his father’s cars. It was to be a lifelong affair, for now, at 42, the advocate owns no less than 68 vintage and classic cars.
The cars, all passionately restored by him, ‘reside’ at his Mehrauli farmhouse, which is practically a museum. Called Pro Bono Publico — Latin for ‘for the public good’ — it is the largest collection of classic and vintage cars in the Capital. Step inside to feast your eyes on gleaming Rollses, Cadillacs, Mercs, Buicks, Jaguars, Wolseleys…
Many of the cars in Titus’ collection once belonged to maharajas and nawabs. But they were not their gleaming selves when Titus acquired them. “When I buy a vintage car, it is generally in very bad shape; I restore and preserve it.”
The restoration of a vintage car is no mean task. It’s entirely a game of attention to detail. You need to procure the original parts, paint and fittings. And then, you painstakingly put everything together over 6-8 months, lavishing anything from Rs 3 lakh to 15 lakh on the old beauty.
Titus, in fact, has a huge workshop with all the necessary infrastructure and three full-time mechanics to restore and maintain the cars.
After all, he has to “ensure that everything matches the original specifications.”
Titus’ workshop has 20 trunks filled with original spare parts and fittings, such as pistons, ignition systems, lights, hood covers etc, all imported from the US.
With his busy schedule, he gets to air only about a dozen cars in a month, and then only in some car rally. Not surprisingly, he has a huge collection of trophies.
Some of Titus’ cars have even featured in movies like Gadar and Zubeida. But they are celebrities even otherwise. “People almost jump out of their cars, take pictures, ask me about the make, price and mileage when I drive these cars.”
His museum, whose walls are adorned with framed automotive paintings and posters, is often visited by school children, heritage lovers and conservationists.
It has also had such high-profile visitors as Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu. Titus spends at least two days a week at the museum, dusting, cleaning and washing his automotive gems — yes, he is still a school boy when it comes to his love for beauties on wheels.