Cars of Nizam and other Maharajas

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Image result for nizams rolls royceThe South Asian Life & Times (SALT)
L-R: Prince Alexander Azam Jah, Prince Azmet Jah and Princess Shehkar Jah in their 1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Throne Car. The erstwhile Nizam's Classic .


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Restored Napier Cars of Nizam | wheelsunplugged.com
The Economic Times
Rolls Royce
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Jewels at Jaipur (Upd. Throne Rolls is 1912, not 1911) - PreWarCar

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... Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Dome Roof Limousine, owned by HIH Princess Ezra of Hyderabad (click main pic). But there was more, much more to feast your eyes ..
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Swan Rolls Royce

Rolls palace on wheels



Rolls with hunting rifle

Rolls for tiger hunting



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Maharajas’ Rendezvous with Rolls-Royce by K.R.N. Swamy

Luxury Rolls Royce Automobile
Luxury Rolls Royce Automobile
In his famous book Freedom at Midnight, French author Lapierre states that on an average each maharaja in India had 3.5 Rolls-Royce automobiles. If we were to stick to the correct number of maharajas — 225 of them those who had gun salutes fired in their honour were entitled to the title, all others were merely rajas — that would mean that from 1908 to 1939 (when World War II started), the maharajas had bought at least 788 Rolls-Royce cars. If you include the rajas, it could be more. Automobile historian John M. Faisal states that in all, before 1947, a total of 900 Rolls-Royce cars were sold to Indian princes.
Maharaja Rolls Royce
Maharaja Rolls Royce
The craze the Indian princes had for exotic automobiles in the first four decades of the twentieth century is well known. After World War I, many of the Indian princes spent a lot of money on famous American automobile brands like Cadillac’s, Chryslers and Lincoln, but none of the non-British brands appealed to the maharajas as the Rolls-Royce. In fact, the very first Rolls-Royce that came off the assembly lines after World War II (1939-45) was bought by Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwar of Baroda.
1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja of Mysore 300000-400000
1911 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja of Mysore 300000-400000
The very first Rolls-Royce bought by a “native Indian prince” was the “Pearl of the East”. It was purchased by the Maharaja of Gwalior after its record breaking trans-India runs in 1908. Soon the Indian rulers began to order exotic versions. The handbook of the grand 40/50 h.p. Silver Ghost,  sent to His Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad in March 1913 by Rolls-Royce, stated that it was a “Semi-State Coach”.  Actually it was a sort of throne car, painted in a rich canary yellow with gold mountings, upholstered in gold silk brocade with matching curtains and brocade.  And this was only one of the Nizams 50 Rolls-Royces, many of which still have their original paint. They had barely done one thousand miles when he died in 1967.But it appears that despite his dozens of exotic automobiles (numbering more than 200),  the Nizam used only one of his old Buicks to do his circuits of Hyderabad city.
1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja
1919 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Maharaja
In 1920, a Silver Ghost limousine was sold to the Viceroy of India. Later this was bought by the Raja of Monghyr, who deputed a well-known Calcutta jeweler to decorate the car with silver plate as per Indian designs. This car was said to be the most ornate Rolls-Royce in India. Many maharajas preferred the Cabriolet version, which enabled them to sit on a raised seat in the rear of the automobile so that their subjects would be able to recognise the ruler and pay homage. Talking to the librarian in the Rolls-Royce archives in London, I found that although the firm sold their automobiles to quite a number of maharajas, they considered the Maharaja of Mysore special, for he always bought Rolls-Royces in batches of seven! So much so, that in Rolls-Royce parlance “doing a Mysore” meant selling seven cars at the same time. Another famous buyer was the Maharaja of Bharatpur (He always bought three automobiles at the same time). Once when the Rolls-Royce firm delayed sending mechanics to his capital to rectify small faults in the cars, the maharaja threatened to convert all his Rolls-Royces into garbage carriers. Lest the car lose its “aura” as the automobile for the super-rich, the car-makers sent a group of mechanics at the earliest to Bharatpur. Another enthusiastic buyer was the Maharaja of Patiala, whose Rolls-Royces (27 among his hundreds of vintage makes) were decorated with diamonds and precious stones — so much so that during the overhaul of his cars, elite security guards had to be positioned in the garage to prevent pilferage. The Maharaja of Nabha had one Rolls Royce —with its body built to resemble a swan. When the car made its slow progress on the streets, it had the gracious appearance of a swan taking to water. Jawaharlal Nehru, referring to this automobile in one of his books, wrote that the maharaja was known as “Bathak (Hindi for goose) Raja” as the onlookers could not differentiate between the goose and swan.
Maharajas Luxury Cars
Maharajas Luxury Cars
The Maharaja of Darbhanga had a number of Rolls-Royces and according to a recent newspaper report, six of them are rusting in the old family garage at Darbhanga. The Maharaja of Faridkot too was fond of Rolls-Royce. Late last year, one automobile enthusiast managed to get a peep into the padlocked palace garage and came back goggle-eyed after counting six Rolls-Royces, two Bentleys and four Jaguars rusting away.
Rolls Royce Car
Rolls Royce Car
The maharajas used the Rolls-Royce as a vehicle for tiger hunting as well. These special cars had extra footboards for the servants to stand while the car rushed through the forest in pursuit of the tiger and a special high power” far light screen mounted tiger shooting lamp” dazzled the tiger’s eyes and made it an easy victim. One of the books on Rolls-Royce states that a particular model bought by the H.H. Aga Khan II in the early 1930s was considered to be so unique that the manufacturers made an arrangement with him that the car would be sold back to them for its market value after his demise.
Maharaja Exhibition Royce
Maharaja Exhibition Royce
Independence found the maharajas with dozens of Rolls-Royces but no money to maintain them. In the early sixties, many cars were surreptitiously sold to the foreign vintage car connoisseurs under the plea that the car was being sent out of India for repair as the spare parts were not available in the country. By1971, when privy purses were abolished, the Government of India became wise to this kind of selling and decided that the cars could be sold outside India, provided the sale price money was brought back to India in foreign exchange. The Jodhpur “Ghost of India” was one such car sold in the 1970s. The “Swan” car was sold by the erstwhile Maharani of Nabha to an “Indian buyer” in the 1990s. The Indian buyer proved to be an agent for a foreign vintage car enthusiast and had the car sent out of India. By the time Indian vintage car experts came to know of the sale, it was too late. This car is now said to be in an Amsterdam museum.
However, not all the princes were happy with the smooth running engine of the Rolls-Royce, which barely made a noise. The Nawab of Arcot in South India suddenly stopped coming to Madras city in his antique Rolls-Royce. Instead he attended meetings and conferences in an old car of a different make. When queried as to why he chose the inferior car for his trips, his straight-faced answer was: “Well… the Rolls-Royce does not make any sound when I drive it, even in high speed. During my use of the car in estates, my tenants do not get a chance to look up and pay me homage…. As such I have to use this cheaper and more noisy model, which gives advance notice of my coming!”

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Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur

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Owned by the Maharaja of Patiala, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, this car stands out even within the collection of such an ardent Rolls-Royce customer. The Maharaja was not afraid of the price of customization, even at the turn of the last century: he paid $400 in today's money for a tool roll, $1,000 for a pair of jump seats, between which rest a crystal decanter and four matching tumblers.

How rich were the Maharajas before Independence! Cars of the Maharajas-13_rollsroyce_slvrghst_torpedo_tr_dv07_aia_01.jpg
The car was originally fitted with a Hooper Landaulette body planned to be exported to India. Plans changed, and the car was sent to New York City and into the care of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. On a voyage from New York to Liverpool aboard the Lusitania, the ship was attacked by a German U-Boat and sank in less than 20 minutes.

How rich were the Maharajas before Independence! Cars of the Maharajas-13rr_slvr_ghst_lndn_to_ednbrg_dv_07_gc_01.jpg
In 1913, this Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost with chassis 2517 was ordered. It was fitted with a custom six-seater Torpedo body with coachwork handled by H.J. Mulliner. The original owner was the Maharaja of Patiala, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who held forth over the state of Patiala from 1900 to 1938. It is rumored that he married ten times and had 200 concubines and eighty-eight children. His Rolls-Royce rivals those rumors, as it was fitted with many custom features and luxury items. It came equipped with a Cobra horn, running-board coverings, tool roll, and a pair of jump seats. The larger-than-life persona of the Maharaja can be seen throughout the vehicle. The Maharaja was a favored client of Rolls-Royce and was given the opportunity to order the first Rolls-Royce Twenty. He accepted, but went a bit farther; he ordered a whole fleet of them. Years later, during the 1930s, Rolls-Royce did not accept any orders from Maharaja Bhupinder Singh. In retaliation, the Maharaja assigned his Rolls-Royce cars to the streets, to be used for trash pickup. Only after Rolls-Royce relented did the Maharaja recall his fleet of Rolls-Royce from civil duties. In 1985 this Rolls-Royce chassis 2517 was acquired by Richard Solove in India. The car was not in running condition, though solid and in fair condition throughout. It wore a London-to-Edinburgh Tourer coachwork which it still retains in modern times. It was brought to running and driving condition, and driven across Patiala and Pakistan to Karachi. Upon arrival, it was sent to Britain and to Jonathan Harley's shop where a four-year restoration was performed.

Last edited by Gordon : 19th July 2008 at 16:16.
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Old 19th July 2008, 16:41  #239
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How rich were the Maharajas before Independence! Cars of the Maharajas-37_talbo_t150_c_ss_dv07_ai_026.jpg
Once owned by the Maharajah of Kapurthala.

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This car, bodied by Hooper, features robust hind quarters that bloom gracefully, growing a full four inches wider from front to rear. The curved windshield is the first to be used on a Rolls. Once owned by a Maharajah, the custom interior has his-and-hers stadium-style seating (it's a full nine inches higher than the front, with a boot-rail for him and an angled footrest for her) and one other RR first—an electric window for the driver.

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1934 'Star of India' Rolls-Royce Phantom II
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MAINSTREAM NEWS MEDIA EXTRACTS: II
Maharaja of Rajpipla’s Estate Windsor England: The era of 1920′s and 1930′s was considered to be the golden era of Indian Maharajas.
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Rolls Royce



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A stunning Alpha Romeo belonging to Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar of Indore





the “Maharajah Duesenberg”, the largest, the last and the most expensive Duesenberg ever made



The Holkar owned Lagonda car (Note the "sun-glow" saffron and black design)






A stunning Mercedes Benz owned by the Holkar Family


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I would like to include what I consider the most beautiful convertible Rolls Royce I have ever seen. Its a 1937 Rolls Royce 25/30 cabriolet by Gurney Nutting. One of apparently only three cars made in this body style, by dint of sheer beauty I feel its worthy of being considered.








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