He may be best known as the last Nizam of Hyderabad, but Mir Osman Ali Khan had a rather museum-worthy collection of autos. The richest man in the world until he died in 1967, the Nizam was a self-confessed car obsessive, and to prove it he had the best and rarest luxury autos – particularly Rolls-Royce. It’s said that when Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd refused to sell their car to Mir Osman, Hyderabad’s last ruler bought some old Rolls-Royce cars and used them for garbage collection, which damaged the image of the British luxury automobile maker. The company requested the Nizam to stop this practice and began gifting Rolls-Royce cars to him. Eventually, he had 50 of them.
The seventh Nizam has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with cars. He possessed the greatest fleet between 1900 and 1967, ranging from luxurious to outlandish. Most of his coveted collection is now scattered across the world, acquired by museums and collectors. His diverse collection included a 1933 Dodge and a priceless Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Throne car that was made to order by the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan in 1911. The 1912 make with chassis number 2117, yields mileage of eight miles per gallon and a 40/50 horsepower engine capacity. The order was placed with noted coachbuilder Barkers of Edinburgh, and the Nizam shelled out Rs 25,000 to modify to his tastes. The vehicle was painted yellow, as a sign of royalty, and featured a crest shaped like the dastaar and metal work with lily patterns on the roof. However, by the time the customisation was completed, Mir Mahboob passed away.
When it comes to purchasing cars, Osman Ali was known to take a natural approach: He basically bought what he liked, across a spectrum of eras, costs, styles and countries of origin. According to Mohammad Luqman Ali Khan, who wrote the coffee table book, Automobiles of the Nizams, all his cars had a red number plate which read Hyderabad 1. He also housed Napiers, Daimler, Mercedes Benz, and Bentley in an equally luxurious ‘Royal Garage’ in Hyderabad.