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Old 4th October 2018, 12:29   #1
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Default Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

One of the hidden gems in South Bombay's historic Ballard Estate district is Karfule - a gorgeous art deco petrol station that just turned 80 years old.

Bombay's connection with Art Deco styles of architecture is finally getting the recognition it deserves - thanks in no small part to the recent surge in online content and social media on the topic, most prominently Art Deco Mumbai - a superb showcase of Bombay's rich legacy of art deco constructions. I highly recommend further reading at the site, including the automobiles section here. The other site that romances the gilded age of Bombay is Bombaywalla, regularly discovering forgotten gems of Bombay. Highly recommended.

An original rendering of the plan by the architect.
Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-01.jpg

A recent discovery for me was the very stylish petrol station cheekily called 'Karfule' (pronounced 'car-fuel') - which just completed 80 years of operation. Founded by Gabriel Sequeira on the 3rd of October, 1938, after having immigrated from Goa to Bombay in the late 1920s, the station remains in the same family. It is thankfully beautifully preserved, and more recently even restored to proudly showcase all the original elements - this includes the service station equipment, fuel dispensers, and the hydraulic lift (still operational). With petrol crossing 90 rupees a litre now, its ironic to note that the station used to sell petrol at 15 annas a gallon at one time. It is still the family that runs the day to day operations themselves, and it is only because of their dedication, passion and involvement that it still stands today in this way.


A special mention must be made about the correspondence, photographs and literature preserved so carefully. Every document and invoice is still preserved - from the architects, the suppliers who provided the concrete, the electrical equipment and even the catering details for the inauguration.


The foundations being laid

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-02.jpg

A Press image from the opening

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Even though the structure is exactly the same, it would be difficult to recognize it today.

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Superb artwork on the original letterhead

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Thoughtfully, that same menu was curated for the 80th year celebrations .
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A real treat is to see the original servicing equipment -the dispensing nozzles, the measure units, gauges and of course the functional Manley hydraulic lift - restored in house.
Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-09.jpg

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There's plenty for automobilia buffs as well
Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-10.jpg
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Third generation Daniel with his Vespa

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-13.jpg

In more recent times, the station has become a popular spot for overlanders. Pics courtesy their facebook page

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-.jpg


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More reading on the subject here and here. Photo credits too.

Last edited by karlosdeville : 5th October 2018 at 11:14. Reason: Pictures rotated on request.
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Old 4th October 2018, 19:17   #2
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Default re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

For the special occasion of completing 80 years, an exhibition was superbly curated on the journey so far.

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-14-rotated.jpg

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Note the registration number mentioned - N 7240. I cannot read the name though.

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A 118NE was also in the service bay - which I bet also had quite a story to tell.

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Some special gift cards were also printed out.

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The menu thoughtfully recreated

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-52.jpg

And for this special occasion, a couple of classics were also placed at the station - our own Bulldogji's beautiful 1937 Buick, and a little Morris Minor convertible - both cars I see regularly around town.

Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-33.jpg


The exhibition is on for I think 10 days, I strongly recommend one checks it out. I for one will now be taking a long detour every time I need to gas up! I hope to return soon, and share more images.

Last edited by karlosdeville : 5th October 2018 at 11:18. Reason: Pictures rotated on request.
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Old 5th October 2018, 19:21   #3
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Default re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Thread moved to the Vintage Cars & Classics in India section. Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by aah78 : 5th October 2018 at 19:22.
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Old 5th October 2018, 20:17   #4
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Default re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
For the special occasion of completing 80 years, an exhibition was superbly curated on the journey so far.
Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-karfule-ca-1942.jpg

ca 1942



Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-karfule1.jpg
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Old 5th October 2018, 20:20   #5
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Default re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

What a lovely thread, amazing story telling as always. Kudos also to the family for preserving and celebrating, need more people like this.

Thanks for sharing Karl.

Some media coverage
https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/...w/66078752.cms

https://m.mid-day.com/articles/all-a...ation/19828156

Circa 1938
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Cheers

Last edited by KartikeyaL : 5th October 2018 at 20:36.
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Old 7th October 2018, 16:13   #6
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

What a beautiful story! It is so nice to see so much care taken with what could have become just another petrol pump. After all, they sell a commodity product that is priced the same as any other bunk in the city. Kudos to the Sequeira family for treating it like a valued family heirloom.

Actually, if you think about it, this bunk would have seen so many generations of vehicles and people pass through its bays, and spanning across our country's independent existence. The stories it could tell!
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Old 8th October 2018, 06:49   #7
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Man oh man. How did I miss this place after living in Bombay for an entire year? Probably cause I never had a ride.

Gas stations that are run like this do not exist in our country. Its more of a place to tank up and get moving. Shell has changed that to some extent by offering basic service at some of their gas stations but none of them are a family run business like Karfule.

That has to be the first time I have ever seen Sausage Roll on a menu in India. They are impossible to come by.

The gift card is a very novel idea.

Curious to know about the Enfield seen in the background from the photograph of Karfule Today. Has the old tool less tappet cover opener.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 8th October 2018, 08:29   #8
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

What a lovely story! Im very curious as to how overlanders end up at this bunk? Isn't this quite deep inside the city, and people would need to battle hours of traffic to reach here.
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Old 9th October 2018, 12:48   #9
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Nice article Karl! Beautiful architectural rendering by the doyen of Art Deco architecture in Mumbai Mr G B Mhatre himself. Please ask the owners to make limited edition high quaity lithographs of the rendering. I would love to have one. I think the original colour scheme for the building would have been a light biscuit.

Hopefully some Sunday will be able to pose in front of the building with my art deco car
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Old 9th October 2018, 12:53   #10
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

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Originally Posted by the mole View Post
Nice article Karl! Beautiful architectural rendering by the doyen of Art Deco architecture in Mumbai Mr G B Mhatre himself. Please ask the owners to make limited edition high quaity lithographs of the rendering. I would love to have one. I think the original colour scheme for the building would have been a light biscuit.

It was originally bare malad stone, after HP took over caltex around 1978, the norm was to paint it white. After much resistance (which included stopping supply of petrol), the owners finally relented.
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Old 9th October 2018, 15:29   #11
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Thank you for this article. Sounds like a nice place. I've visited the pump next to this one for getting some repairs done and did notice that this place looked nice.

I will visit this place on Sunday and tank up just to take a look
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Old 9th October 2018, 16:24   #12
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Off topic, I am sorry but I think this had to be shared

Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post

A 118NE was also in the service bay - which I bet also had quite a story to tell.
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Quote:
Majo Grofčík and the guys from LADA svetom have just completed their amazing journey in a 1996 118NE from Mumbai-Leh-Varanasi-Mumbai.
PC: Karfule Pvt. Ltd.
Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-36314772_1856973071008246_7425855685776113664_n.jpg

118NE on the Leh trip
Picture credit : Majo Grofčík

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Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump-36985365_10216813254265160_7811715410209800192_n.jpg

Last edited by KartikeyaL : 9th October 2018 at 16:26.
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Old 9th October 2018, 16:37   #13
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

Wow, just wow!
It is amazing to see so much nostalgia packed in a single place.

I absolutely loved the pic of the old handwritten menu. I hope I will find a way to make it there over the next week to see the exhibits in person. If not, I will definitely go there when I drive up next time.
Thanks for the wonderful pictures and written account.
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Old 9th October 2018, 16:43   #14
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Default Re: Karfule turns 80! Bombay's stunning art deco petrol pump

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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
It was originally bare malad stone, after HP took over caltex around 1978, the norm was to paint it white. After much resistance (which included stopping supply of petrol), the owners finally relented.
Another piece of construction related trivia for you. This pump contractor was Simplex concrete which still exists and and the owners of the same were the Daggas of Kolkata who I believe were the first owners of the Bristol
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