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Old 3rd September 2012, 21:39   #1
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Default 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

Leading automotive journalist and vintage and classic car historian Gautam Sen has released a book chronicling the life of a very special Rolls - 17EX.

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Below is the press release

Press Release
Rolls-Royce 17EX A Fabulous Destiny

It is indeed incredible that this most unusual experimental car emanated from the drawing boards of Rolls-Royce Limited, a conservative carmaker if ever there was one. No, the Rolls-Royce Phantom I 17EX wasn’t the flamboyant flight of fancy of an eccentric client, but a project commissioned by Mr Conservative himself, Sir Henry Royce.

Why did Royce want such a special car made? What became of it since? What intriguing journeys it undertook? And how it found its present abode? This book is about all that, and about the tales and anecdotes from the life and times of Rolls-Royce’s most special, its association with royalty, celebrities and enthusiasts.
Gautam Sen, widely acknowledged as the leading automotive journalist and writer in India, has done extensive research and been afforded unique access to the families that have owned 17EX at various points of time. Other than being in touch with the grandson of the Maharaja of Kashmir, 17EX’s first owner, Sen knows very well the son of the second owner, P K Mitter of Calcutta, and the family of Protap Roy who ‘rediscovered’ the car in the 1960s. Victor Muller and Alexander Schaufler, the two most recent owners of 17EX are also known to Sen and all of them have come forth in providing valuable archival material and information. The result is an authoritative and visually impressive story that not only tells the tale of a very special car, but also provides an insight into the privileged lives of the top tier of Indian society.
The book answers questions like: Why was Sir Frederick Henry Royce so desperate to get his cars to go at 100mph? Why did Bentley’s Le Mans victories irk Royce so much? What common thread links Malcolm Campbell, the Blue Bird, the Maharaja of Kashmir and some million dollar cars in Calcutta? All of this and some more come together in this book that recounts the wondrous journey of the one and only 17EX woven with tales of very special people, of spectacular countries across continents and of over eight decades of automotive history.
Rolls-Royce 17EX A Fabulous Destiny is about the raison d’ętre of this car, the ‘making of’ it and the fabulous destiny that awaited it.

The Author
Gautam Sen is accredited as the leading automotive journalist in India, having founded the country’s first car magazine Indian Auto in 1986. In 1993 he launched Auto India, which became India’s best-selling car magazine and later the Indian editions of auto motor und sport and the BBC’s TopGear magazine. Since 2007 he has been back in the driver’s seat at Auto India and divides his time between Paris, where his family lives, and Mumbai. Other books written by Sen include: The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars, The Story of The Star in India and The Car Design Book.

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We got a sneak preview of the book at Pebble Beach where 17EX was participating in the Maharaja - Rolls-Royce class, strategically placed under the driver's door by your's truly .

'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen-img_0385.jpg

Gautam was very gracious to present me a copy, and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed following its glittering history - it was commissioned by RR themselves, sold to Kashmir, then the Mitters (sharing very pedigreed company), changed a few more hands including Protap Roy. The present owner, Alexander Schauffler acquired the car from Victor Mueller (of Spyker and SAAB fame), and has reportedly rallied it 10,000 miles last year alone! Schauffler also owns a fabulous 500K Mercedes with an equally interesting history (though not Indian), and even took a prize in the Mercedes class this time at but more on that later.

The book is packed with unknown anecdotes and some fabulous archive photographs from the Roy and Mitter families, including this lovely one standing with the 2 Dueseys and 2 SS Mercedes of the Mitters (where are they now?). More awe inspiring images like these in the book.

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'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen-05.jpg

A chapter will be included on the car's stint at Pebble, and will go on sale shortly thereafter. A must for the Rolls enthusiast, the vintage car enthusiast, and even the history buff. Looking forward to more similar projects

Last edited by karlosdeville : 3rd September 2012 at 22:09.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 22:39   #2
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

My goodness !! The Mitters owned the Duesenbergs, Mercs and the RR's at the same time? Surely the family deserves a thread on them alone. How come the enthusiasts from Calcutta have not done this as yet? Even Mr. Roy had some amazing cars.
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Old 3rd September 2012, 23:15   #3
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That's an amazing book to get hold of and what a last snap of two Duesenberg a pair of Mercedes's obvious K series pedigrees and 17 ex a fab Rolls. Does someone of the family still live in Calcutta ! Need to kiss their hand for owning such cars . A little taken aback with that snap of all 5 cars together

Wow !

Thanks

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Old 4th September 2012, 02:00   #4
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
The book is packed with unknown anecdotes and some fabulous archive photographs from the Roy and Mitter families, including this lovely one standing with the 2 Dueseys and 2 SS Mercedes of the Mitters (where are they now?). More awe inspiring images like these in the book.
I am assuming the two Duesenbergs are the Idar Saloon and the "other" Hyderabad (J202 Olympia Murphy tourer, not J499 Fernandez et Darrin Victoria) cars.

Does the book identify them,along with the Mercedes SS's ?

Last edited by travancore : 4th September 2012 at 02:25.
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Old 4th September 2012, 10:11   #5
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

WOW, so this was what Gautam was writing some time ago ! Cant wait to get my hands on one of the copies, has to be a suberb book !

The Mitters of Calcutta had exceptional taste and the funds to indulge as well

Justice Mitter had maybe three or four sons and they all loved cars and would have the best possible cars they could find.

The Duesenbergs are the ex Hyderabad car and the Weymann Saloon, possibly Idar,

The Mercs are also superb, would love to hear if anyone has more info on them.

Just blows ones mind to see that line up of cars, all in immaculate condition to boot. What an awesome sight they would be if seen in person or even a color picture.

It looks like they were parked together for a photo shoot. I wonder if there are any more pics from thsi shoot around to enjoy.

Its a pity the family didnt hold onto the cars.

Someone should go out to the family house and see if they can get more pictures or info on these and other cars they would have owned over the years
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Old 4th September 2012, 10:21   #6
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Someone should go out to the family house and see if they can get more pictures or info on these and other cars they would have owned over the years
That is exactly what Gautam has done, pulling out super pics from the Mitter archives. They include images of the cars travelling together long distance, even running into the Nandgaon Rolls on the way (which was owned by a friend then), and posing for photos. Also some great images of the Duesenbergs being loaded onto trains for transport etc.
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Old 4th September 2012, 10:36   #7
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

Considering Azamjah's Duesenberg ended up with them there's a possibility the white SS next to the black Duesenberg is also Azamjah's?

Considering all the cars are in such a fabulous condition they may have been picked up just a few years after the original owners tired of them, possibly by late 30's.

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Old 4th September 2012, 10:42   #8
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

Karl..that great to hear ....can you put up some more pictures please.

What ceases to amaze me is that in those days with limited, if not, absolutely no means of long distance communications the Mitter family and other car enthuseasts were able to find out about cars on sale and how to buy them.
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Old 4th September 2012, 10:57   #9
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

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Considering Azamjah's Duesenberg ended up with them there's a possibility the white SS next to the black Duesenberg is also Azamjah's?

Considering all the cars are in such a fabulous condition they may have been picked up just a few years after the original owners tired of them, possibly by late 30's.
The SS doesn't match the image we have of Azamjah's car, unless he had another one.

Yup, the cars were probably owned in the late 30s (it must be mentioned in the book, I don't remember), as they show the old 5 digit system of registrations of Calcutta for the Dueseys and Rolls. Both Dueseys carry a prominent ornate plate with the 'D' of the Duesenberg script up front.
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Old 4th September 2012, 11:10   #10
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in those days with limited, if not, absolutely no means of long distance communications the Mitter family and other car enthuseasts were able to find out about cars on sale and how to buy them.
As a kid I new all the Mercs in town. Today its impossible to know how many RR Phantoms are there in town. I think in the 30's it would have been easy to keep tab of who had what because it was only a handful of people with these special cars. 7 Duesenbergs in India would have perked up every enthusiasts curiosity. With loads of chamchas hanging around these princes it was easy to reach them and drop in hints. With Azamjah and his perenial over spending taking those cars off him would have been easy given the prince needed cash all the time.

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The SS doesn't match the image we have of Azamjah's car, unless he had another one.
Do you have a side profile picture of the white SS in the background? When is the book being released in India?
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Old 4th September 2012, 11:13   #11
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

True but learning of what cars are with whom in cities in far flung corners of India must have been challenging.

You mentioned 7 Duesenbergs in India ? Is thsi accurate ? I thought only 4 and possibly 5 is the true figure ?

On another note do you knwo what happend to the Ponton that used to belong to Rajeshwar Maduri ??? Is it still around ?
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Old 4th September 2012, 11:19   #12
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True but learning of what cars are with whom in cities in far flung corners of India must have been challenging.

You mentioned 7 Duesenbergs in India ? Is thsi accurate ? I thought only 4 and possibly 5 is the true figure ?

On another note do you knwo what happend to the Ponton that used to belong to Rajeshwar Maduri ??? Is it still around ?
Manvendra Singh is the right man to ask as he mentioned he had documented every car that came to India. I am not sure how I remember the figure to be seven, I could be wrong.

Yes the Ponton is still around but now in disuse for too many decades
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Old 12th September 2012, 19:20   #13
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......................... Even Mr. Roy had some amazing cars.
Mr. Roy definitely had amazing cars. When he was in Delhi, his garage housed 17EX, the Kellner Hispano and a 500K Merc. Many foreign visitors came to see him about the cars. At Pebble Beach the Rolls and Hispano met up, the 500K was stranded in Mumbai. Bulldogji, it would have made a wonderful reunion. And subsequently Mr. Roy had a number of exotic cars pass through his hands, maybe more than Mitters. But no Duessy.

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I am assuming the two Duesenbergs are the Idar Saloon .............
I am trying to get a photo of the Idar Duessy. Its very difficult, but efforts are on. Luck will also be required. But in the memory of a person who has seen her, the car was a dual cowl phaeton and long, not a saloon. Time does cause memory lapses. Remember, for a long time we thought that the Holkar Duessy went via Idar.

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Considering Azamjah's Duesenberg ended up with them there's a possibility the white SS next to the black Duesenberg is also Azamjah's?...........
Unlikely. And Benz don't have records either.

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
..............Yup, the cars were probably owned in the late 30s (it must be mentioned in the book, I don't remember), as they show the old 5 digit system of registrations of Calcutta ...............
The old 5 digit system was active atleast from 1922, and may have gone on till 1939/1940 when all cars were reregistered to the BLA etc. series.

Cheers harit

Last edited by harit : 12th September 2012 at 19:22.
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Old 18th September 2012, 11:10   #14
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

Here is a small excerpt from the Classic and Sports Car Magazine October 2012 issue.
This book is scheduled to be available in October, preliminary copies were made available for the Pebble Beach event. The last chapter will be on Pebble Beach participation.
Karl has already shown the best photo, so I have scanned the 2nd best photo, (in my opinion) which is of Dr. C. Rossi's Ferrari 275 GTB/C. It seems to have been in Kokata, maybe for a race?

Cheers harit
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Old 5th October 2012, 11:42   #15
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Default Re: 'Rolls Royce 17 EX - A Fabulous Destiny' by Gautam Sen

It really is mind blowing two see cars of such great pedigree together and too in Calcutta! Not that I wasn't aware of this, in fact I was supposed to go to Mitter uncles place and take some photos for our forum and he was very keen for me to go to his place and see the flicks. Hasn't happened as yet unfortunately (my fault).

The Mitter uncle I'm talking about is the same person standing next to the Ferrari and we meet every now and then in Calcutta Club. I really must go over one day and see for myself if there are any more pics that show the cars individually.

And yes, all 5 cars were owned by them at the same time! Just imagine, with the empty roads of Calcutta back then, to wake up in the morning on each weekday and ponder on which car to drive to work in...Duessy No. 1, 2, SS 1, 2 or the Roller? What a life
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