Photos: India’s legacy of loving luxury cars

  • Gautam Sen’s new book, The Automobile: An Indian Love Affair, traces the history of automobiles in India over 130 years.
Updated On Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST
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Gautam Sen’s book The Automobile: An Indian Love Affair (Penguin), tracks how cars shaped a young India’s rapidly evolving social structures. Cars replaced ornate carriages, and sparked a race between royals over who could procure the most over-the-top automobile.(Penguin India)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

Gautam Sen’s book The Automobile: An Indian Love Affair (Penguin), tracks how cars shaped a young India’s rapidly evolving social structures. Cars replaced ornate carriages, and sparked a race between royals over who could procure the most over-the-top automobile.(Penguin India)

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A clear early winner was the Swan Car, originally designed for a British engineer stationed in Calcutta, Robert Mathewson. It was a 1910 Brooke with the front made to resemble a giant bird hissing steam from its nostrils.(Penguin India/ Louwman Museum)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

A clear early winner was the Swan Car, originally designed for a British engineer stationed in Calcutta, Robert Mathewson. It was a 1910 Brooke with the front made to resemble a giant bird hissing steam from its nostrils.(Penguin India/ Louwman Museum)

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This 1939 Delahaye 135 was designed by Figoni et Falaschi. They came to the public’s attention when this model was introduced at the 1936 Paris Salon. The car’s low-slung rigid chassis and independent front suspension, made possible by a system of transverse leaf spring and radius rods was marvelled at. It’s now in the long-term ownership of Dalip Singh, from Jodhpur.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

This 1939 Delahaye 135 was designed by Figoni et Falaschi. They came to the public’s attention when this model was introduced at the 1936 Paris Salon. The car’s low-slung rigid chassis and independent front suspension, made possible by a system of transverse leaf spring and radius rods was marvelled at. It’s now in the long-term ownership of Dalip Singh, from Jodhpur.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)

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This Citroën Traction Avant, from a fleet produced from 1934 to 1957, was used by Calcutta resident Minnie Pan. She also raced it during the weekends when racing was a regular scene in the City of Joy.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

This Citroën Traction Avant, from a fleet produced from 1934 to 1957, was used by Calcutta resident Minnie Pan. She also raced it during the weekends when racing was a regular scene in the City of Joy.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)

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This 1949 Delahaye 175 Coupé, another exquisite design by Figoni et Falaschi has been owned by the Maharaja of Mysore and later by Elton John. It is now in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.(Penguin India/ Gautam Sen Archives)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

This 1949 Delahaye 175 Coupé, another exquisite design by Figoni et Falaschi has been owned by the Maharaja of Mysore and later by Elton John. It is now in the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.(Penguin India/ Gautam Sen Archives)

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Planned for manufacture in India, this unusually designed and this rare 1972 Fuldamobil-based Scootacar now resides in the Gedee Car Museum, Coimbatore.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

Planned for manufacture in India, this unusually designed and this rare 1972 Fuldamobil-based Scootacar now resides in the Gedee Car Museum, Coimbatore.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)

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Jawaharlal Nehru examining a Goggomobil, a series of microcars produced by Hans Glas GmbH in the German town of Dingolfing between 1955 and 1969. The style was under consideration for manufacture in India.(Penguin India/ Harit Trivedi Archives)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

Jawaharlal Nehru examining a Goggomobil, a series of microcars produced by Hans Glas GmbH in the German town of Dingolfing between 1955 and 1969. The style was under consideration for manufacture in India.(Penguin India/ Harit Trivedi Archives)

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Could this be one of the fastest cars during the 1930s? This rare, modified Bentley 8 litre was the last completely new model by Bentley before the company’s financial collapse and eventual sale to Rolls-Royce. It’s also one of several exceptional cars to have survived in India today.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

Could this be one of the fastest cars during the 1930s? This rare, modified Bentley 8 litre was the last completely new model by Bentley before the company’s financial collapse and eventual sale to Rolls-Royce. It’s also one of several exceptional cars to have survived in India today.(Penguin India/ Makarand Baokar)

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A Talbot-Lago from 1938, with its then owner, Stella de Kapurthala, in Paris. This was the maharani’s prized possession and wedding gift. Their streamlined design earned them the French nickname Goutte d’Eau (drop of water). The English called them Teardrop Talbots.(Penguin India/ Peter Larsen Collection)
Updated on Jun 27, 2021 02:59 PM IST

A Talbot-Lago from 1938, with its then owner, Stella de Kapurthala, in Paris. This was the maharani’s prized possession and wedding gift. Their streamlined design earned them the French nickname Goutte d’Eau (drop of water). The English called them Teardrop Talbots.(Penguin India/ Peter Larsen Collection)

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