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Old 22nd July 2008, 22:11   #1
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Default Vintage Cars: The Parsi Connection

Glance through any auto classifieds over the years, chances are you will see a couple of ads proudly proclaiming "Parsi owned". Chances also are the car will command a premium in the market.

Visit any vintage and classic car event, over 75% of entries will be Parsis, I kid you not. For the period costume competition, competitors usually don the traditional garb - dagli and pheta. A visit to any of the numerous Parsi colonies in Bombay on a sunday morning and invariably you will see everyone lovingly fiddling with and polishing their cars and bikes.

Any Parsi potrayed (usually comically) in a hindi movie is always dressed in an immaculate white dagli driving an immaculate Austin or Morris, and more recently a Fiat.

The field of automotive journalism and rallying (till recently) too has been dominated by the Parsi community.

What is it about the Parsi community that makes them so fond of cars, maintained so fastidiously? I have only one theory - it isn't blood that runs through their veins, its motor oil.

I look forward to comments and anecdotes from you, sharing your association with the dwindling Bawajees. I hope to write a book on the subject some day.

Attached is an article from the August 1984 issue of Parsiana, a community magazine, which is itself a reprint from a Mid Day article. It chronicles some very significant automobiles.
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Vintage Cars: The Parsi Connection-005.jpg  

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Old 22nd July 2008, 22:14   #2
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Karlos at his best.

I always wondered and pondered on this subject, thanks for shedding light.
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Old 22nd July 2008, 22:41   #3
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Ahh!! I have read this particular article from the Parsianna issue. I believe it is still in the Petit library. Will try and dig it up!!
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Old 22nd July 2008, 22:42   #4
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I remember reading about Mr JRD Tata (biography- The Last Blue Mountain) who owned a Bugatti sports convertible in the 1930's. In fact the first cars in our country were owned by Mr Jamshedji Tata.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 00:19   #5
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It's almost as if the worshippers of Ahura Mazda and their connection with the automobile was pre-ordained.

If I may be allowed to go a little off-topic - Parsees are a wonderful community, one that my family, and I personally, have a lot of regard for and share many friendships within. Their contribution to society at large has been tremendous. The Parsee community's affinity to the automobile also is well recognised and justifiably so - they really love the automobile and take very good care of it. In fact, a Parsee generally appreciates most of the finer things of life, without being ostentatious - a Parsee home (by and large) will have nice paintings, furniture, often a nice dog (big or small), well-tended lawns, etc., etc., and then the motor garage. But there are exceptions of course; I have Parsee friends who can't stand their vehicle more than the time it takes to get from point A to B! And there are bawajis who misuse the maintained-by-Parsi tag!

Very nice article there in the Parsianna. Enjoyed it very much Karl, thanks!

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post

Visit any vintage and classic car event, over 75% of entries will be Parsis, I kid you not.
Maybe only in Bombay and Poona. In fact is it so there too, any longer?

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post

The field of automotive journalism and rallying (till recently) too has been dominated by the Parsi community.
This definitely is not true, although a popular misconception. Automotive journalism, and I'm talking of the mainstream ones of course (otherwise there have been many publications for decades before that were either rather regional or trade-oriented), has had prominent members from various communities (and I'm talking of respected names, not the pretenders!) and the trend was definitely spearheaded by a non-Parsi, while a Parsi was his second-in-command - the arrangement carried over to the next magazine they launched. Another Parsi gentleman was close on their heels (at the time of the first mag itself) with another mag from 170 kms across the Shayadri! Then of course, many others have come in over the years staffed by various sorts. By the way, HelKull on this forum (is that how he writes it?) started a motor-sports magazine years before IAJ, C&BI, etc. Niaz Ali of course rallied too.

The motorsports scene has in fact been dominated more by certain other communities - in fact demographic distribution of participants there has been quite evenly spread out, although certain regions have been prominent in either taking the lead in hosting events, or engineering the vehicles.

Parsees stand out, because they also do things with a certain style, elan, and so they get noticed more. At times though it goes the other way, like the comic stereotype in our films, which has been done to death and I find a little annoying now. I truly hope the community arrests the decline in its ranks. Karl, hope you're planning to have quite a few!

Last edited by Prabal : 23rd July 2008 at 00:29.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 00:57   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Any Parsi potrayed (usually comically) in a hindi movie is always dressed in an immaculate white dagli driving an immaculate Austin or Morris, and more recently a Fiat.
And if its a Parsi lady, always dressed in an equally immaculate Gujarati style Saree driving similar cars.

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I look forward to comments and anecdotes from you, sharing your association with the dwindling Bawajees. I hope to write a book on the subject some day.
Well as for me, you're the first (and until recently the only) BawaJI I shared my association with. So you'll know most of the stuff you want to write in your book (excuse my inevitable laziness! )
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Old 23rd July 2008, 02:23   #7
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Very interesting Karl, 2 Vauxhall 30/98s and a Jensen (must be a ford V8 engine, the Meadows straight eight wasn't produced until after the war); and the same Bugatti as previously posted...kindly post more photos soon...

Last edited by Julian UK : 23rd July 2008 at 02:40.
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Old 23rd July 2008, 14:46   #8
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Karl, please read my signature.
Regards,
Adheesh Parelkar
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Old 24th July 2008, 14:45   #9
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OT again, and not quite automotive, but an interesting Parsi story for those not in the know. There's a Parsi family owned and run (the Bhandara family if I remember right) brewery in Rawalpindi, Pakistan called Murree Brewery Co. Ltd. which is not only one of the oldest companies of Pakistan, but they are also the largest exporter of beer from across, called Murree Beer. It's quite nice, believe me! MBCL also makes other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and food products, which are nice too! And there's a division called Murree Glass, which makes superb glass products.

I'm sure the Bhandara's have shone their light on the world of automobiles too. Alvis, anything on this?

Just remembered to check out the net, and lo and behold! Karl, maybe you could drop in on Murree Brewery Company Ltd. and ask them yourself as well, for that book of yours.

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Old 24th July 2008, 22:18   #10
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Some of the Automobile related Parsi's I can think of : Tata's, Hormurz Sorabjee,Adil Jal Darukhanwala,Aspi & Sherry Bathena,K.D.Madan,Farad & Nawaz Bathena and the majority of Vinatge & Classic cars & bikes owners.Not to forget our very own Karl,Behram & Cyrus.Have I missed anyone ?
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Old 24th July 2008, 22:34   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dominator View Post
Some of the Automobile related Parsi's I can think of : Tata's, Hormurz Sorabjee,Adil Jal Darukhanwala,Aspi & Sherry Bathena,K.D.Madan,Farad & Nawaz Bathena and the majority of Vinatge & Classic cars & bikes owners.Not to forget our very own Karl,Behram & Cyrus.Have I missed anyone ?
Although speaking in general you wouldnt have missed him, definitely worth mentioning- apna Hyderabadi Chermas wala Pestonjee!
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Old 27th July 2008, 11:21   #12
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Some anecdotes on the Adenwalla collection from Harit

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Nice to see a thread started on Parsees and their cars. It is generally believed that they maintained their cars very well, well, so did others and I also know of Parsees who did not maintain their cars very well. But that can be debated.
I have not had much success, but I thought that this is a good place to talk about the Adenwalla collection. I had read an article about 30 years ago mentioning this. I have gathered that there was an Adenwalla Bungalow on Peddar Road, now demolished but I am not clear what stands on this plot now. I know that he had a Bugatti, Adenwalla..........Ronnie Khan...........Mallya. He had a Bentley 8 Litre which was picked up by Ronnie Khan, kept in Pune along with the Bugatti and Lanchester at Sisodhia's?, then shifted to his farm in Nashik and now on Peddar Road being restored. He had an Invicta, Adenwalla ............Ronnie Khan.............Pranlal. I have heard that there were several other cars some of which were bought by Pranlal. Perhaps Speedy can ask him what did he buy from Adenwalla and ask about Adenwalla. Who was he and was he a Parsi?
There are many oldtimers who had heard about him, remember that he was around in the 1950's to perhaps mid 1960's but no one has real info.
Incidently, a ceiling in the porch of his bungalow had collapsed onto the Bugatti and it was heavily damaged at that time. Now it is basically a rebuilt car.
I wonder if someone can ask seniors and get more info?
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Old 27th July 2008, 20:48   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dominator View Post
Some of the Automobile related Parsi's I can think of : Tata's, Hormurz Sorabjee,Adil Jal Darukhanwala,Aspi & Sherry Bathena,K.D.Madan,Farad & Nawaz Bathena and the majority of Vinatge & Classic cars & bikes owners.Not to forget our very own Karl,Behram & Cyrus.Have I missed anyone ?
Guys, don't forget Rony - "President" on the forum, our very own "Mr. Original", and one of the backbones of the FCCCI Mumbai.
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Old 31st January 2009, 16:56   #14
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I was forwarded this most interesting video, was surprised to see it feature my mentor, Pheroze "Fang" Mehta.

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Old 31st January 2009, 22:02   #15
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Does anyone know where the Bugatti and the Mercedes 540K shown in the Parsiana Article (Post #1) are today ?

The Bugatti looks very much like the Corsica bodied ex-Nawanagar (?) car. Think I had posted a period picture on the Gondal Collection thread (Post # 21).

Last edited by travancore : 31st January 2009 at 22:06. Reason: changed post reference
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