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Old 24th August 2014, 21:39   #1
KPS
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Default Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

I would like to dedicate this thread to my dad, Prithvi Ganapathy and his ex-boss Jack William Lawrence. My Dad has always been a car and bike enthusiast. He was inspired by his maternal grandfather Kuttetira Subbaiah who owned a few cars including this 1925-26 Dodge Brother bought new, as seen below (person in the rear right).

Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-thatha-his-beautiful-car1.jpg

This was followed by a used Chevy sedan and Chevy 1 ton truck by 1928-29. When the Great Depression struck in the 1930’s the Dodge had to go and both Chevy’s were garaged hoping for better days. My Dad and his younger brother used to play a lot in the garaged Chevy’s. While Dad’s 4-year-old younger brother would freewheel the front wheels, my 6-year-old Dad sat behind the steering wheel and imagined driving at great speeds. Sadly by 1942 both the Chevys were sold to a scrap dealer in Mysore

It was in 1960 that my father, having completed his B.Sc Ag joined Blue Mountain Tea Estates (Kothari Group). The Wellington Gymkhana Club (WGC) was the main place for socializing in the planting community at Nilgiris. It was in WGC that Dad got to know his future boss Mr. Jack William Lawrence, an Englishman who was then General Manager at Ponumudi Tea & Rubber Company, registered in UK. Jack Lawrence used to drive the company car, a 1954 Dodge convertible (registered in March 1954, MDN 3493).

By 1961, Jack Lawrence the General Manager convinced my Dad to join Ponumudi Tea and Rubber Co., as Assistant Manager at the “Terramia Estate”. Dad has very fond memories of Terramia (our current house in Bangalore is also called “Terramia”). In addition to Terramia Tea Estate in the Nilgiris, the company also owned the Bonacaud and Ponumudi Tea Estates in Kerala (having sold the Rubber Estates by then).

Dad as an Assistant Manager could only afford Triumph Tiger Cub. This was followed by a Royal Enfield 500 twin. The Delco trouble on the twin forced my Dad to sell the bike and buy 1957 Royal Enfield single which was used by an Englishman working for a Calcutta based company in Nilgiris. Dad has many fond memories with “Natalie” a bike he used extensively before he got married. Here are the pictures of “Natalie” as Dad visits home in Coorg, from the Nilgiris.

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In 1963 my father got married to my mother Kavery. To impress her he bought a second hand 1955 Fiat Millecento. Here is a picture taken of them and the car at our ancestral house in Suntikoppa, Coorg, circa 1963.
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The Millicento however met with an accident in the estate. Mr. Jack Lawrence being a true blood Englishman had some very strict rules! One of the rules was no honking around his bungalow. It so happened that while driving the Millecento, Dad was looking at the tea bushes instead of the road. The company truck coming in the opposite direction collided head-on as the driver, who had seen the Fiat coming did not sound a warning horn due to the “No horn rule’! The Fiat was badly damaged and Dad had to sell it.

The unplanned accident forced my Dad to buy another car a 1952 Vanguard Series 1. “Prithvi’s Vangy going Bangy” was the common chorus whenever the family went to Bangalore in this car.

By 1966 the company added the Non-Such Estate and Jack Lawrence became the Group General Manager and Dodge remained an integral part of him. Dad was based in Terramia Estate, Nilgiris from 1961-66 and he was transferred to Kerala in 1967, initially as Acting Manager at Bonacaud. The Dodge in the meantime was transferred to NonSuch Estate also in 1967, still used by Mr. Jack Lawrence. NonSuch still produces one of the best tea from Nilgiris and is the tea we favour at home !
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-nonsuch.jpg
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-nonsuch1.jpg

The Vangy too went to Bonacaud, here is a picture of the car with my sister taken in 1967 at Bonacaud. You will notice the badly dented left side. Dad tells me that the car was brutally attacked by the company’s breeding bull! The car was repaired locally and the bull had to be put down.
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Quite a few TBHPians have gone to Bonacaud in the recent past. Here is a travelogue to Bonacad. The estate has been shut for the past few years due to labour problems. It seems to be a haunted bungalow now!

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...light=bonacaud (In Search of the Haunted Bungalow at Bonacaud, Trivandrum)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-bonacaud.html (A drive into Bonacaud) (A drive into Bonacaud)

After 3 months at Bonacaud, Dad was transferred to Ponumudi Estates as a Manager. He was now eligible for a brand new Ambassador car and the Vangy was sold. Here is a picture taken in 1967 with my mother in front of Vidhana Soudha, Bangalore.
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You will notice the conical silencer end, called Turbo Vac which was designed to increase airflow by a dual funnel design to suck the exhaust out. The pride of the Amby was the dash as modified by Dad, seen below
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Mr. Jack Lawrence used to drive down to Ponumudi from Nilgiris, in the Dodge, on his official visits. Hence Dad remained in touch with the car even though he was in Kerala.

Dad quit planting in 1969 and came to Bangalore. This 1955 Studebaker Regal Champion was the all-time favorite family car and Dad bought this in 1969. We practically lived in this car! I remember sleeping in the rear on the flat portion between the rear seat and rear wind screen. MYZ 451 (Coorg Number) was well recognized as it used to be driven by my mother and it was rare for a woman to drive such a big car daily. My mother would drop us to Sophia School every day. After dropping us off at school, Mum would deliver vegetables to the wholesale market. We used to live in a farm then. At times the rear seat would be removed and the car would be filled with more than half a ton of tomatoes! I think we sold this car in 1978-79. It is believed to be now scrapped.
Here is a picture of the Stude as we prepare to go to school
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Mom and my sister are seen with the Stude and our 1976 Lamberetta
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While we were Bangalore, the Dodge remained under the care of Jack Lawrence. In 1976 a tragedy struck, when in a UPASI treasure hunt rally event, Mr. Lawrence choked eating a bun. He actually died next to the car. The car was then bought by an employee of the company in 1976 when he resigned and he had the car with him for the next 15 years. The car was then sold to a person in Bangalore and the same disappeared for about 20yrs before Sripathi found it for us 2011. It was abandoned in a farm with the front windshield missing and extensive rain damage. We were able to buy this car and realize my father’s dream of owning it.

Here are the pictures of the car as we found it, waiting to be rescued.
Our first sighting
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d1.jpg
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d2.jpg
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d3.jpg

The engine
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d4.jpg

The Dash
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d5.jpg
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d5-2.jpg

The re-badged Plymouth though wears the Dodge skins still sports the Plymouth Horn Button. Looks like the factory forgot to swap.
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d5-1.jpg

The original jack is seen
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d6.jpg

The horns are original fittings
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d6-1.jpg

Loading the car
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d8.jpg
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d9.jpg

Rescued !
Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible-d10.jpg

The P25 engines are known to be bullet proof. As the saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding"! We are able to start the engine after almost 12 years without much difficulty!



More later

Cheers

KPS

Last edited by KPS : 24th August 2014 at 21:49.
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Old 24th August 2014, 21:56   #2
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Default re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

Splendid stuff, KPS! Reading with much interest - let it roll. I have an interesting story of our '57 Fiat Elegant too (papa's first wedding anniversary gift to ma - they got hitched in '56 ) but that's for later. This is your stage.

Last edited by Prabal : 24th August 2014 at 21:57.
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Old 25th August 2014, 11:38   #3
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Default re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

Great Story telling! It is true that the madness of Automotive pursuit is passed from father to son. I hope more Bhpians come up with stories like this! Please go on we are fixated!
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Old 25th August 2014, 13:10   #4
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

What a splendid thread, marvelous pictures and great story telling, Keep it coming !! Since this is in part dedicated to your dad, please tell him he looks like a star in the picture with the bike

regards
Kartik

PS: you just made my day !
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Old 25th August 2014, 13:29   #5
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by KPS View Post
I would like to dedicate this thread to my dad, Prithvi Ganapathy and his ex-boss Jack William Lawrence.
Superb KPS, this was a really enjoyable read. It is very apparent where you get your fondness for automobiles from.

Have you tried contacting anyone in the family of Jack? They may have some nice old photos/correspondence. What colour was the car originally?

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Originally Posted by KPS View Post
More later

Cheers

KPS
I'm looking forward for details on the restoration, step by step, it would be an invaluable guide for us.
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Old 25th August 2014, 14:59   #6
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

KUDOS to you for such a post, it is a trip down the past. It is fascinating and captivating at the same time. I would love to see more pictures, I adored the pic of you and your sister. It brought back a lot of great memories. You made my day. thanks.
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Old 25th August 2014, 16:17   #7
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

Quote:
Originally Posted by KPS View Post
I would like to dedicate this thread to my dad, Prithvi Ganapathy and his ex-boss Jack William Lawrence. My Dad has always been a car and bike enthusiast. He was inspired by his maternal grandfather Kuttetira Subbaiah who owned a few cars including this 1925-26 Dodge Brother bought new, as seen below (person in the rear right).

Thanks KPS for this splendid trip down nostalgia lane ! While growing up in Allahabad in the fifties and early sixties, the Studebaker Champion, Dodge Kingsway, Buick Super Eight, Ford V-8 small block etc., were popular on the roads and I know that's were the bug bit me and I went under the ether and haven't recovered since !

Thanks again were a great write-up and pics !

Shashanka

Mod Note: Please quote ONLY the relevant bits of a post. Quoting a full, long post inconveniences our mobile readers.

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 5th September 2014 at 08:33.
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Old 25th August 2014, 17:16   #8
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

That's some writeup, Sir. I felt like I was there as you described the years long past in your elaborate thread. I'm a history buff myself and obviously since this is t-bhp, a declared car nut!

Eagerly waiting to see the Dodge as you reverse the effects of time and the elements. The fact that an engine that has been silent for 12 long years is up and running is almost unbelievable. Do let us know how you get on.
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Old 25th August 2014, 17:28   #9
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Awesome read. And your dad looks quite a stud on the RE.
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Old 25th August 2014, 22:03   #10
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Personal, passionate, tinted with nostalgia- these are the best stories. Please keep it going. 5 stars
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Old 25th August 2014, 22:36   #11
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

Glued to this thread. Keep it flowing.
Love the B&W photographs..

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Originally Posted by KPS View Post
The car was then sold to a person in Bangalore and the same disappeared for about 20yrs before Sripathi found it for us 2011.
Can you provide details on the search?
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Old 25th August 2014, 22:49   #12
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Default Re: Our Lost & Found Classic - 1954 Dodge Convertible

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Splendid stuff, KPS! Reading with much interest - let it roll. I have an interesting story of our '57 Fiat Elegant too.....
Thanks Prabal. I am sure your story on the Elegant would be very interesting too

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Originally Posted by the mole View Post
Great Story telling! .....
Thanks Amol. This car is being prepared for the Southern Trip. Sad to note that you have to give this trip a miss.

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Originally Posted by KartikeyaL View Post
What a splendid thread, ..... dad, please tell him he looks like a star in the picture with the bike
regards
Kartik
Thanks Kartik, Showed you post to my Dad and he was beaming!

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Superb KPS, ......
Have you tried contacting anyone in the family of Jack? They may have some nice old photos/correspondence. What colour was the car originally?
Thanks Karl. The original colour of the car was silver with blue leather upholstery. Jack Lawrence was a divorcee and he largely lived alone. He used to visit UK or his children would visit him. Before India, he was a Major in the British Army. We contacted Dad's friends and colleagues, unfortunately none seem to have any pictures. One known picture sadly was the obituary in the UPASI (United Planters Association of South India) Newsletter, which pictured him leaning on the car. Unfortunate the records at UPASI were destroyed by a fire a few years ago.

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Originally Posted by Sathish uk View Post
KUDOS to you for such a post....It brought back a lot of great memories.
Thanks Sathish, the good old days are always cherished.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shashanka View Post
Thanks KPS for this splendid trip down nostalgia lane !
Shashanka
Thanks Shashanka, even today a well tuned car can you goose bumps when you start the engine. The American cars are always a pleasure to drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coloneljasi View Post
That's some writeup, .....
Glad you enjoyed the story. I really enjoyed writing it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Altocumulus View Post
Awesome read. And your dad looks quite a stud on the RE.
Dad is beaming! Thanks Altocumulus

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Originally Posted by Contrapunto View Post
Personal, passionate, tinted with nostalgia- these are the best stories. Please keep it going. 5 stars
Thanks Contrapunto, hope to keep the interest going.

Cheers

KPS
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Old 26th August 2014, 01:15   #13
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Ah ha, Superb KPS.. True blood lines of a Coorg. Its got all the flavors a Coorg would have owned in his lifetime. A jeep is missing somewhere.
I bet he would have had willys is his estates also.

I still feel in the corners of Mysore there are many such hidden treasures, need to start a classic car hunt sometime soon.

Hope you find all the spares you need and complete the restoration asap
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Old 26th August 2014, 02:09   #14
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I have a strong belief that cars do have feelings just like we humans do and if you are thrilled to be reunited to your car it must be too. The pictures you posted superb giving us the idea about the begining of the automotive era in our country. Looking forword now to read the story of the restoration of this beauty.
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Old 26th August 2014, 10:02   #15
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I was nostalgic when I saw "Nonsuch", my grandfather was in charge of that group of companies till he died in 1974. He used to live in the estate above it called Parkside. Please do ask your father if he knew P.I Thomas
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