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Old 13th February 2011, 19:42   #31
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

Hi! I have got some reviews on Gautam Sen's book, copied herewith with the permission of the reviewers and Gautam. I am waiting for this book myself.

Cheers harit

Joyaux Automobiles des Maharadjahs by G Sen


Joyaux Automobiles des Maharadjahs
by Gautam Sen
[Cher lecteur, la traduction française de cette critique se trouve en bas de la page.]
A clientele of wealthy Indian enthusiasts with incredibly deep pockets and remarkable eccentricities absorbed disproportionately large numbers of European and American cars, from bejeweled Rolls-Royces to more common fare such as Fiats and Fords. Of the survivors on the luxury end few were ever seen, let alone sold, outside of India, especially after 1972 when privy purses were abolished and the government banned the export of classic cars.
Gautam Sen is the editor of Auto India, the best-selling car magazine that covers both classic and modern cars in India. He is based in Paris which partly explains why the first edition of this book has been translated into French. The English one will be released early next year.

The preface contains a short but necessary lesson in Indian history. Heads of States were not only Maharajahs, but also Nizams, Maharanas, Mirs etc. because India is a mosaic of cultures and States. The relative importance of “salute” and “non-salute” States is explained so that we can understand the hierarchy established by the British in their colony. There is also a map of all the Princely States.
This book is not an exhaustive compendium of all the prestigious cars owned by Indian potentates, but it presents the most important collections that were amassed here. For one thing, some of the wealthy owners—not necessarily only rulers—are understandably discreet about their collections. And for another, it would have been impossible in any case to describe all the collections in a country that counts 1.2 billion people as its population.
The first chapter deals with the early days of motoring in India and especially the history of racing in Calcutta, a sport that was first monopolized by the British but soon became accessible to the Indian aristocracy. The subsequent chapters feature about 70 of the most beautiful cars gathered in private collections, including Protap Roy’s, the current Maharajahs of Udaipur, Gondal, Jodhpur etc. and of course Pranlal Bhogilal’s extraordinary collection, as well as a number of private collections, large and small. The history of each collection is described in detail and the large photos are a treat to the eye. Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, Bentley, Packard, Cadillac, Delahaye, Talbot-Lago, etc. are particularly well represented in the book. Some exceptional cars are even the subject of a full chapter, like the superlative Delahaye 135 by Figoni & Falaschi or the Invicta “Black Prince.”
The photos are superb, especially Makarand Baokar’s, which are very artsy, although some of the indoor shots are a bit too dark. I had already seen some of them in Auto India magazine where they had received a fairer treatment. The period pictures are interesting too because many of them show the cars with their owners in various settings and on various occasions, for example before and after restoration. Regrettably, there is no Index.
This large and heavy volume is generously laid out and features a topical, Indian-themed design and colors. It is neither a technical nor a “coffee table” book. It blends car specifications, owners’ lives, history, art, geography and sociology in a fluid prose. It reads like a novel and each chapter can be read individually in no particular order, just like a portfolio of short stories, full of succulent anecdotes. What I appreciated most is the way the histories of the cars and those of the owners are closely intertwining, just like love stories. Gautam Sen is first of all a writer, which makes this book all the more pleasing but he also has a passion for cars, especially cars with a soul. So much so that these are not just “cars,” they are part of the family and their heartbeat.

The last chapters are dedicated to some “exiled” cars, or more exactly, those which were exported or plundered before the government banned all exports of classic cars. German collector Hans-Günter Zach’s ex-collection of Indian Rolls-Royce cars is shown here, naturally, as well as an exceptional Talbot-Lago “Goutte d’Eau” (teardrop).

In conclusion, I loved reading this book and I know I will love to go back to it again and again, because, like a good film, it takes more than one viewing to get all the substance.
Copyright 2010, André Blaize (speedreaders.info).


ANOTHER ONE:

The Maharajas And Their Magnificent Motor Cars

Posted by on Monday, December 13, 2010 · Comment


From a swan-necked car that ’caused elephants and people to flee in every direction’, to a Rolls Royce converted to transport a maharaja’s personal cricket team, this new book provides a fascinating insight into a changing society, through the history of the maharajas’ cars.
Indian royalty’s love affair with the automobile began when the first three ‘horseless carriages’ were imported into British India in 1898. In the next half century, the choicest cars with the most unusual coachwork made their way to India to satisfy the varied tastes and demands of the rajas and the maharajas.
All manner of ceremonial throne cars, hunting cars, wedding cars and cars for state processions were owned by 500-odd Indian princes who tried to outdo each other in terms of pomp, glamour and splendour.
This is an engaging account of 70 of the few hundred surviving cars and the stories of the extraordinary people associated with them. The book examines the particular role the cars played in the culture of the royalty, where some were passed down through generations or offered as dowry for marriages as it was deemed ‘shameful’ to sell them.
After India gained Independence, the fortunes of the maharajas began to fade and only a handful were able to keep their wealth by converting their palaces into luxury hotels and retaining the cars bought by their ancestors. Other princely cars were bought up by Indian collectors or found their way abroad.
The extraordinary Brooke ‘Swan’ Car – so named because of a huge swan’s neck curling up from its bonnet – hissed steam from its ‘nostrils’ and provoked uproar when it arrived in Calcutta, causing women to scream and carriages to career off the road. The fabulous Talbot Lago, arguably the most beautiful car in the world at the time, was given by a smitten maharaja to his beautiful British mistress, the Folies Bergere dancer Stella Mudge, as a wedding present. And a magnificent maharaja’s Delahaye 175 was owned at one time by Elton John.
Gautam Sen, the ‘father’ of Indian automotive journalism has done extensive research and been afforded unique access into some of the most splendid car collections in India to create this authoritative and visually impressive study. This is not just a book about cars but an insight into the privileged lives of the top tier of Indian society.


Further, parts are due to appear in the next issue of Top Gear Magazine, which is out on the 23rd of Feb. The Guardian may be running an image gallery on their website and it is has also been featured as Book of the Month in the latest issue of Classic & Sportscar Magazine.

Last edited by harit : 13th February 2011 at 19:46.
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Old 14th February 2011, 02:35   #32
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

HAnd Delivered in a day. FANTASTIC pictures!!
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Old 14th February 2011, 10:22   #33
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by harit View Post
Hi! I have got some reviews on Gautam Sen's book, copied herewith with the permission of the reviewers and Gautam. I am waiting for this book myself.
I am surprised Harit that you still do not have a copy of the same. Managed to get mine hand delivered couple of days back. I believe there still are few available in Bombay. Overall great and very engaging one. What is missing is the outstanding collections of Shri Sharad Sanghi, not much has also been written about Dr. Mallya's collections too except for the 500K. BTW good article about your vehicle and also your name has been mentioned in acknowledgements. Overall good book and lots of good articles. I particularly liked the ones on the famous Swan Car, Pratap roy's great collections and Shri Bhogilal's collections. Let me know if any of you folks need any help on procuring the books. I might just be able to help as last I knew there were about 8 still available in Bombay itself.
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Old 18th February 2011, 15:27   #34
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

I got my copy yesterday, and after initially flipping through it I found it thoroughly enjoyable. There is much emphasis on the Protap Roy Calcutta scene (rightfully so), which is more than welcome. Some great photographs, many previously unseen (I flipped over one shot of Protap Roy standing next to his early Porsche 356 in Bombay).

The book is by no means a comprehensive documentation (and at no point does it claim to be), so some important cars are glaring by their ommission. There is a fair amount of coverage given to present day collectors (Royal and otherwise). I did noticed some errors, but nothing too big.

Priced well under 3000 rupees (I think), it makes for an enjoyable read for any auto enthusiast.
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Old 18th February 2011, 18:38   #35
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

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Let me know if any of you folks need any help on procuring the books. I might just be able to help as last I knew there were about 8 still available in Bombay itself.
Where is the book available in Mumbai
Thanks in advance
regards

Last edited by deutscheafrikar : 18th February 2011 at 18:40.
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Old 18th February 2011, 18:48   #36
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Where is the book available in Mumbai
Thanks in advance
regards
You can call the publishers directly. The name of the contact person is Mr. Mukesh Srivastava - 098197 14158. You can refer my name, you just might end up getting some discount
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Old 18th February 2011, 20:00   #37
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

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Originally Posted by 67Bug View Post
Managed to get mine hand delivered couple of days back. I believe there still are few available in Bombay. Let me know if any of you folks need any help on procuring the books. I might just be able to help as last I knew there were about 8 still available in Bombay itself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
I got my copy yesterday, and after initially flipping through it I found it thoroughly enjoyable.
Priced well under 3000 rupees (I think), it makes for an enjoyable read for any auto enthusiast.
Are they available only in Bombay for now? And just out of curiosity, any idea what the book weighs?
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Old 18th February 2011, 20:53   #38
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It does weigh a decent amount. am reading every chapter of it, have reached around half way by now the details of some of the cars are astonishing!!
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Old 24th February 2011, 02:37   #39
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

I have received my copy a few days ago and have been reading every evening. Indeed enjoyable. There are lots of old pictures, many came from Mrs. Roy. I always knew about the Porsche, now we actually see it.
The book contains history, starting with the racing scene in Kolkata, many old photos here also. Then again a chapter on Protap Roy, with old photos. Then moves on to Royals most from Rajasthan and Gujrat, with their cars. Some have their old family cars still, others have shown their newly gathered collection. The book moves on to collectors who opened their garage doors and shared their prides and joys, Pranlal Bhogilal, Dr. Ravi Prakash, Diljeet Titus and Nitin Dossa. At the end a few exotic cars are showcased.
The book is well written, informative and could invite part II. There are also some errors, and some stories based on hearsay are just that, hearsay. And some owners tend to exaggerate the history, condition and numbers of their cars, but that does not take away anything from the book. To my knowledge only one car with German Nazi connection came to India, the Patiala Maybach. The 500K was from a state in Bengal, not Heinrich Himmler. But that little titbit does not matter, we see that one of the greatest travellers was Protab Roy, and he did ferret out some of the greatest cars. Unfortunately many left the country thereafter.

Cheers harit
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Old 15th March 2011, 19:01   #40
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

This book was featured as book of the month in Sports and Classic cars March 2011 issue.
In the April issue an article was written by Mick Walsh using pictures and references from the book, but some inaccuracies were present.
It seems the first lot of this book has been sold out, another lot will be coming in.

Cheers harit
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Old 15th March 2011, 19:26   #41
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

Hi Harit.

I too got my copy recently and have just finished it cover to cover.

It is indeed a great compilation.Some of the information is really mazing.

However I feel Mr.Sen could have broadened the scope ny includign other major collections in it and also the cars form South India.

The Nizams collection has been completely ignored as has the Mallya collection for one.

The other great Indian cars that have left the country could have also been covered like the Bhavnagar Bentley, both the Cadillac V16's the Duesenberg and the Holkar lagonda to name a few

I also feel he has more information about the fate of the two Duesenbergs that he has mentioned were with the Mitter family in Calcutta.

He had access to pictures from the Roy family which I can bet would have had some pictures of the Duesenbergs, wonder why they were kept out.

Maybe a second edition is planned with additional cars.

We need a definitive book that will cover cars from each and very princely state in India as a definitive bible on what came to India.

The time is slipping away as we speak as people who have details on these states and their cars are getting on in age and we will loose all direct knowledge when they are gone.
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Old 21st February 2013, 19:09   #42
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

This book has been translated into German. They also changed the cover. Seems to be going international, French, English and now in German.
The cover seems to suggest a Hindi version, that would be path breaking

Cheers harit
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Old 4th June 2013, 14:25   #43
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Default Re: Book Review : The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars

This book has been reviewed by a German vintage and classic car magazine, Oldtimer Markt in their May 2013 issue. They gave it 4 out of 5, very good.
Just thought I'll let the community know.

Cheers harit
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