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Old 21st January 2012, 09:39   #1
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Default JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

My aunt had been reading a book, the official biography of JRD Tata by R.M. Lala. The book is titled "Beyond The Last Blue Mountain - Life of JRD". It is an interesting read and can be bought here - Flipkart link.

Interestingly, a few chapters briefly cover JRD's passion for cars, flying and all his escapades around this. JRD as a kid wanted to buy a Bugatti and his father had refused it at first but later gave away and wired him money in France to go ahead and buy it. The Bugatti has been featured earlier on the forum in Bombay outside Sunita bungalow in Malabar hill with JRD at the wheel spinning away to glory with the wheels locked in:

JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed-jrdtata.jpg

Picked up from - this post. (Bugattis in India!)

So I thought about researching more on JRD's Bugatti in Bombay. And after a lot of research, I came across a beautifully written letter and a picture of the Bugatti in Bombay.

JRD used to correspond with his father Mr. R.D. Tata through Telegrams & letters. All these correspondences have been safely preserved by Tata Archives. Tata archives was an initiative by JRD himself in 1991 when he thought all of Tata empire documents, pictures, balance sheets, etc should be safely stored in a central location in order to preserve their heritage. The archive was setup in Bombay first and then moved to Tata Management Training Institute, Mangaldas Road, Pune. Coming back to topic, JRD wrote back to his father on receiving a wire titled: "from Bombay buy Bugatti"

Quote:
Hotel Graziella
Juan les Pins
25 Feb. 1926

Dear Papa

First of all excuse me please for writing to you with a pencil, but my fountain pen is not working for the moment and as I am in pyjamas I must perforce stay in here and use a pencil as I intend finishing this letter. Tomorrow morning I am afraid it will be the same then.

Papa, Papa, thank you! Thank you so much for your wire which gave me the most acutely joyful shock in my life! It made me all the more happy as I had resigned myself to not having a Bugatti now. So imagine what I felt, when on my arrival here I found the following wire: “from Bombay buy Bugatti”, I couldn’t believe my eyes and I think I was hopelessly fooled that evening and night. I jumped about and danced like a madman. I did not want to lose a single moment and didn’t know what to do! I thought of phoning up to Paris but who to? It was a Saturday. I thought even among other things of taking the fi rst train back myself. I must have schemed and schemed and dreamt of my dream car very late in the night!

Next morning, that is Sunday I was afraid to go and see on my table whether that wire had not been a child of my overheated mind or imagination. Thank God no! So I sat down and wrote four wires and one letter. One wire to Bugatti asking them to keep for me the car I had seen before leaving if it was not sold yet. I sent the other wire to Max who having been with me in all my negotiations with Bugatti knew all about the question. The letter was also to him, asking him to get me a car as soon as possible and to wire to me when it would be ready.

Day before yesterday I got his reply saying that the car would be ready 11 days later. He phoned me up the following day asking for details. Incidentally I heard him as if he was only a few feet away.

He asked me to send 3000Fr for a deposit. I understand that these people won’t take a chance this time! Well, the position is this now, that I am writing about a letter a day to Max, that my impatience is almost feverish, and that most of all my heart is swollen with gratitude and thanks for you. I don’t know what made you so happily change your mind and say yes, but I suppose it was my letter which persuaded you that
swank was not the reason I wanted the Bugatti for. Anyway you have made me absurdly glad and happy. You wouldn’t be sorry if you knew how much!


The car will be ready probably Thursday next. So I will leave here Wednesday use the car in or around Paris for three days to run it in and get used to it and will start back for Juan les Pins on Sunday, Hurrah!

Meanwhile, after spending four days here I have realised how useful a car is here. For trams or autocars are so slow and irregular for travelling about the coast, Cannes, Antibes, Nice etc. The Bugatti will be paradise … I will not say anymore about the Bugatti as your telegram has settled all about that and so splendidly to! You have actually ordered me to buy it!

It is on my arrival back at the hotel that I found that blessed telegram – Oo-Lala! Thank you again…! Of course, Papa 21000Fr are more than enough for 3 months. You have allowed me 3000Fr a month! It is true that I will probably overreach that mark during my stay here. But when I am back in the army I will spend much less. But these 21000Fr are going to be eaten up by the Bugatti and I hope you have arranged to send me more. 5000Fr more for the Bugatti and a few thousand more for living on.

Today is Darab’s birthday. I have sent yesterday a wire to wish him and Jimmy many happy returns of the day, also thanking you a 1000000 times for the car.

I will stop now, again excusing myself for using a pencil. Good bye, Papa dear, I hope you are all very well and happy, as happy as I am. Thanking you again with all my heart, I send you all my most loving kisses.

Your grateful Bugattiwallah Johnny
And now, for the picture that (I believe) has never been on the forum before:

JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed-jrdtatat.png

Sources:

Link 1

Link 2

I'll share more such stories as I progress further in the book.

There have been many stories on this forum related to this very car. Quoting a few:


Quote:
Originally Posted by scooby05 View Post
Karl, I have seen SIR JRD driving around in the Buggati! He Sure had one.
we used to live on altamount road just before Sir's Bungalow. and he would drive around it over the weekends, and this is early '60s, I was 10! then, but he had stopped and Requested me to go slow on my cycle down the slope! and then always remembered his soft tone!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Do you recall what model? What coachwork, was it a 2 door, cabrio etc? Any details?

Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
And yes, I was about to come to the Bugatti above. It was featured in an Indian auto mag as well. Very sad actually, as the car is worthless without its original engine, and moreso in this condition.

Vijay Mallya has the only other documented Bugatti in India, though my father swears that he has seen JRD driving a small racing Bugatti.
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
A story did the rounds that a friend of JRD was blasting about town in the Bugatti and had a minor accident, after which JRD gave up the car. In the meantime a police case continued, and his lawyer was one Jack Vicajee. Jack's neice was Thelma, who later became his wife.
And now we could also debate if the Bugatti we saw on this thread (Faster789's collection) is the same as the one owned by JRD?

Last edited by moralfibre : 21st January 2012 at 09:50.
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Old 21st January 2012, 11:03   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre
My aunt had been reading a book, the official biography of JRD Tata by R.M. Lala. The book is titled "Beyond The Last Blue Mountain - Life of JRD". It is an interesting read and can be bought here - Flipkart link.
Hi is there anyway to get the car details from the Bugatti archive ? It's current status ? Survives or not or in a trust khajaana somewhere

Cheers

Last edited by karlosdeville : 22nd January 2012 at 11:02. Reason: Removing entire quote
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Old 21st January 2012, 16:24   #3
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

Hi Moralfibre, this is excellent

Please remember that the Bugatti need not have been purchased new, and in that case the record of JRD Tata having bought a Bugatti may not exist. But it is well known since long that he had a Bugatti. Unfortunately no one seems to remember what happened to it. Fasters photos indicate that there were 2 similar cars. Maybe one was scrapped and the other exported, or the otherway round.

Cheers harit
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Old 23rd January 2012, 10:21   #4
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by kasli View Post
Hi is there anyway to get the car details from the Bugatti archive ? It's current status ? Survives or not or in a trust khajaana somewhere
Cheers
Not sure, but the chase is on. We should be able to get some results. On the flipside, I am sure, many people in the vintage car scene would be aware of what happened to this car. It cannot just vanish. It was no ordinary car and it did not belong to any ordinary person either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by harit View Post
Please remember that the Bugatti need not have been purchased new, and in that case the record of JRD Tata having bought a Bugatti may not exist. But it is well known since long that he had a Bugatti. Unfortunately no one seems to remember what happened to it. Fasters photos indicate that there were 2 similar cars. Maybe one was scrapped and the other exported, or the otherway round.
Cheers harit
Harit, my guess is that the car was purchased new. Based on the fact that he paid through his nose for the car in 1926 and the letter I posted above, makes me believe that the car was indeed brand new.
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Old 29th January 2012, 14:50   #5
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

I know this thread is about JRD TATA's love for cars but since this forum is about automobiles thought this could be relevant. Moderators please move this if not relevant.

JRD TATA along with cars also had a love for aircrafts and flying. Here's his Pilot Licence:

Name:  JRDTatapilot.jpg
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Here's one picture from October 15th 1962, where JRD gets ready to re-enact his solo flight from Karachi to Bombay to commemorate Air-India's 30th Anniversary.

Name:  tata 1.jpg
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This pic is from October 15th 1982 where JRD poses after re-enacting his path breaking flight on 50th Anniversary of Air India.

Name:  tata 2.jpg
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This pic is from October 15th 1972 at the Air India office in New York and JRD is posing with a replica of Puss Moth, which he flew in 1932.

Name:  tata 3.jpg
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Source: TATA Official Website.
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Old 30th January 2012, 12:50   #6
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

Seems to be a very interesting book. Thanks for sharing the same.

I would surly get my hands on the book. Guess it would be a good experience to know about his life.
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Old 1st February 2012, 03:29   #7
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

So could it be possible that JRD Tata was the first Indian to have owned a Bugatti?
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Old 1st February 2012, 10:12   #8
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

Quote:
Originally Posted by D33-PAC View Post
So could it be possible that JRD Tata was the first Indian to have owned a Bugatti?
not really but he definitely was among the few Indians in those times who owned a Bugatti
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Old 1st February 2012, 19:49   #9
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

You've got me interested in this book @moralfibre.

Just ordered one for myself via landmarkonthenet. Thanks!
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Old 5th February 2012, 12:26   #10
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Default Re: JRD Tata: His love for cars and speed

On trying to research further about the Bugatti, I stumbled across another letter on Tata Central Archives where there is a mention about JRD's love for his Bugatti:

Letter link.

Last edited by moralfibre : 5th February 2012 at 12:27.
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