The Fifth Cartier Travel with Style Concours d’Elégance, one of the world’s most prestigious automotive events, took place on February 5th at the Taj Falaknuma Palace. One of the most highly anticipated automotive events of the season, it is ranked alongside the Villa D’Este Concorso D’Eleganza and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elégance. It is a unique show that car enthusiasts from around the world make it a point to attend, as it showcases the best and rarest of Indian automotive heritage. Here’s a closer look. – Suneela
The Show at a Glance:
- The previous four editions of the event took place in New Delhi and Mumbai, and this was the first time the show was held in Hyderabad.
- For over 100 years, Cartier has maintained a long-standing relationship with Indian royalty. Therefore, the Taj Falaknuma Palace – the magnificent estate of the royal rulers of Hyderabad, was a befitting venue.
- Princess Esra of Hyderabad, who has been an inspiring force behind the restoration of the Falaknuma Palace into a luxury hotel, has also been an exhibitor at Cartier Travel with Style since its inception in 2009.
- The fabulous event, which is on the social calendar of the crème de la crème of India, is hosted by Mr. Guillame Alix, Regional Managing Director, Cartier Middle East, India and Africa.
- The event is curated by the renowned Indian automotive enthusiast and erstwhile royal, Manvendra Singh of Barwani, who is himself one of the country’s biggest vintage car restorers and collectors.
Illustrious Panel of Judges
The expert panel of judges at the Cartier Concours d’Elégance 2017 included international jet-setters from around the world from fields including automobiles, fashion, film, and also royals and aristocrats. The panel was led by HRH Prince Michael of Kent; Chief Judge Simon Kidston; John Fasal, Rolls-Royce historian and expert on Indian Rolls-Royce; Sandra Button, Chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours; Jean Todt; Giacomo Agostini, 15-time world champion and motorcycle racer; Lord March, Founder of Goodwood Festival of Speed; Professor Gordon Murray, award-winning F1 designer; Peter Stevens, renowned automobile designer; the Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie, industrialist; and Yasmin le Bon, a former supermodel, among others.
The grand show featured 73 classic automobiles that competed in eight distinct classes, with a new category added this year: the Américain Aérodynamique Class, which presented American cars of the 1930s. This was in addition to the already established categories: Pre-War, Post-War, Indian Heritage, Preservation, Exhibition and Roadster classes. Alongside all the cars, there were also 39 grand motorcycles from across the country which competed in three signature classes: Veteran Vintage, Pre-War and Post-War. The display of cars and bikes against the grand setting of the Falaknuma Palace was truly spectacular.
And the Award Goes to…
The Best of Show car prize was bagged by the 1914 Wolseley 30/40 HP, owned by Shrivardhan Kanoria, while the Best of Show motorcycle went to a 1947 Indian Chief, owned by Arjun Oberoi.
The Américain Aérodynamique Class category showcased rare cars like the Chrysler Imperial Airflow, Model J, Cord Model 810 and Hupmobile. The FIVA Preservation Trophy winner was a 1921 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, owned by Yuvraj Kesri Singh of Wankaner. The car has always belonged to the royal family of Wankaner. The Best in Class - Roadster was the 1961 Mercedes Benz 190 SL. The Cartier Resurrection Cup was given to Amit Sapre’s 1949 Bristol 400, which was found in an abandoned plot in Andheri, Mumbai.
There was also another category that was a treat to the eye: the Exhibition Class. This was devoted to cars not competing, and those that had won in the past, along with cars that were recently imported to India after being restored abroad. A rare 1910 Wolseley–Siddeley 50/60 HP, owned by Princess Esra of Hyderabad, was one of only 16 cars ever made, and quite certainly the only surviving one, was a standout in the Exhibition Class category. The fabulous, gold-plated Daimler 45 HP Special, made for businessman Sir Seth Hukumchand, with Windovers coachwork, was a major head turner. The car was painted gold with gold plating on all exposed parts. The Nizam of Hyderabad’s 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Throne Limousine was something no one could miss, since it was regally perched at the entrance of the hotel. It was the winner of Best of Show in 2011 at the Cartier Concours d’Elegance in New Delhi.