Fifteen years ago, vintage car collector Irphan Mogul was about to give up on the 1971 Silvershadow One Rolls Royce on sale in Delhi. Mogul thought that the price quoted was exorbitant, until he was told the name of the car’s first owner – Sathya Sai Baba.
Two days after the spiritual guru has passed away, Mogul does not regret his purchase. His sleek, cobalt blue Rolls Royce stands amid three other vintage cars parked outside his Bandra office, but it’s the only one with such an enviable legacy.
“The worth of a vintage car is enhanced by the people who owned it, and nothing can get better than this,” said Mogul, an automobile engineer whose company repairs exotic cars.
Sathya Sai Baba owned the car from 1972 to 1984, after which it was purchased by a private owner in Delhi. In the car’s official booklet of registration, Sathya Sai’s car plate number is listed as ADA 9.
“I believe Sathya Sai Baba had a special liking for the number nine,” said Mogul, whose father is a follower of the guru’s teachings. “There are stories that the car was gifted to Baba by a disciple in Kuala Lampur, but I don’t have proof for that.”
Mogul’s Rolls Royce – complete with its silver lady emblem, V8 6.7-litre engine, power steering and automatic gears – is not for sale, and the registration book is the only evidence that can trace it to Sathya Sai Baba. But, the collector does not keep the car locked in his garage.
“It came to me in bad condition and it took me two years to restore it. But on weekends, this is what my family drives to a dinner in,” said Mogul.
In 2004, the car also won an award for the best restored vehicle at a rally celebrating 100 years of Rolls Royce.
“Wherever the Rolls Royce is driven, people treat it with respect because of the logo,” said Mogul.