Cartier Concours d’Elegance: Classics on the royal lawns!
The 6th edition of the Cartier ‘Travel with Style’ Concours d’Elegance marked a decade for India’s premier event for vintage and classic cars and the 2019 event also took aficionados to a new, vibrant and historically appropriate venue: the magnificent Rambagh Palace, built in 1835 as a residence for the Jaipur royals in Rajasthan’s pink city. Everyone thought it was difficult to best the ambience and grandeur of Hyderabad’s Faluknama Palace which played host to the 2017 edition but thankfully this venue was just as welcome, had more elbowroom, had its own understated elegance and with a delectable spread of cars again curated by Manvendra Singh Barwani, it was in line with the previous five editions that threw up some real unheard of automotive gems for even the most diehard enthusiasts to break into a gig!
First, let us take some of the new ones to earn their event insignia. There was an Italian Ansaldo Tipo F Tourer circa 1922 that emerged courtesy of Nitin Dossa of the VCCFI. I think this is the first time such a vehicle from this obscure Italian marque has surfaced at any event in the country and made for a welcome new name. Fittingly it went on to bag the Cartier Resurrection Cup. Similarly welcome, as a rare model rather than the brand we know, was a 1932 MG J2 Speedster, a recent import courtesy Gautam Singhania.
The affable Madan Mohan of 21 Gun Salute fame brought in an exceedingly rare 1928 Gardner powered by a Lycoming straight-eight motor, probably the only one of this marque in the country! He got in a trio of these and has restored the first one in a most vibrant manner mirroring the Yankee era of its time. The workmanship on the car, its turnout and attention to detail were to be seen to be believed.
And then there was the Standard Vanguard Phase 1 Estate of Viveck Goenka which was turned out in the detail, style and character for its period and proved that mass market cars of that time, were just as dazzling to behold as the high profile luxo-suites on wheels. No wonder it went on to bag the Mark Shand Adventurer Trophy.
There were two new classes this time of which the first was the class for pre-war transportation classics. This was a very welcome addition and it threw up some rare commercial vehicles, three each from Ford and Chevrolet and all of them differing in size and application. Kaizad Engineer’s 1934 Chevrolet Series PA Half Tonner went on to take top honours in this class.
The other class was for sports cars upto 1979 which I thought has stretched the ante a bit too far but then, who knows, it could be a sign of enhancing the field, given that there has to be a whole new lot of cars which would be needed going forward. This six-car pack comprised two examples apiece of Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Jaguars with Arjun Oberoi’s 1973 Alfa 200 GTV taking top honours in class.
Bring us then to the Best of Show and given that there were so many magnificent cars in the fray, the conclusion was a foregone one because Amir Ali Jetha’s 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental formerly ordered new for the Maharaja of Jodhpur might have been seen before at the inaugural Cartier event in Mumbai ten years ago but then it was featured in the exhibition class and not judged. Having taken class honours at last year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, this magnificent machine was the unequivocal Best of Show by the jury. Of course there were other great machines as well in the fray but on sheer presence, technical prowess and superb aesthetics it was hard for someone to best Amir’s Phantom II Continental.
On to 2021 then and I can hardly wait to hear about venue, dates and what new discoveries there could be on four wheels and two!