From Rolls Royce to Bugatti; Indore's Holkar Dynasty's love for supercars is not hidden
The Indian elite and royals have had great taste when it comes to automobiles. Like all things fine, cars also hold a special place that contributes to the heritage and prestige of the Indian royalty.
The rich Indian rulers, having lost their taste in traditional, humdrum stuff like jewellery, antiques, etc., turned their attention to trendy things like expensive, flashy cars which the automobile companies manufactured for the super-rich people. So let’s take a virtual tour of the car collection by the infamous Holkar Dynasty of Indore.
Collecting cars: A hobby for generations
Over time, we have seen some exquisite collections of luxury and antique cars in the royal families and Holkars have been no different. The Holkar's love for cars and driving wasn’t just limited to collecting. One of the first female drivers in the country happened to be Maharani Chandravatibai, wife of Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar.
Both Maharaja Tukojirao and his son and successor, Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar had a keen interest in collecting cars. And as someone would expect from a royal family, money was no issue when it came to collecting cars. The Holkar car collection was known to be bigger than that of the royal houses of Patiyala, Mysore, and Hyderabad.
Attention to detail made the Holkar collection famous all over the world
Maharaja Yashwantrao’s passion for cars was beyond just the looks of it. He took as much interest in the make and engineering as he did in the appearances that the luxury cars provided. He was well equipped to handle minor malfunctions and never shied away from getting his hands dirty when need be.
He preferred his cars custom made and had a very clear vision of how he wanted everything designed. From the upholstery, footrest, front grill and handle designs to the intricacies of the interior, everything was customised. It goes without question that his custom made cars were popular in the USA and other foreign countries as well.
Apart from the world-class names, the collection consisted of a 4.5 litre Aston Martin Lagonda, an aerofoil coupe Bentley, a seven-seater 1931 Bugatti type 41, another blue Bugatti, a Delahaye, a J12 Hispano Suiza, a Duesenberg and 3 more Alfa Romeos. In the year 1954, the king ordered a two-door teardrop sports Bentley R Type Continental. This car owned by the Holkars was only used in the US.
One of his favourite cars was a 4.5 litre 1936 Bentley. Including this model, the collection had a total of 6 Bentleys. The complete collection was made up of around 40 to 60 cars. The number plates of these cars were marked HSC-1, HSC-2 and so on where HSC stood for “Holkar State Car”.
The most expensive car in the ‘30s
In the year 1931, the 28-year-old king ordered a custom-made Duesenberg from the USA. Known for high-quality luxury automobiles, the Duesy used to manufacture the most expensive car in the 1930s and was operational from 1913 to 1937. This car was exhibited at the London Motor Show where it turned many eyes. Soon after, the car was brought to India and housed in the royal garage of the Manikbag Palace.
The Holkars had properties in posh areas of the United States like Beverly Hills, California and the French Riviera where these cars were driven with such passion and housed after. The rulers of Indore, both king and the queen were well networked with the European and American elites. The Holkar name has left its mark not just on Indore and the country for their service and unique style. But on top of that, their car collection was talked about around the whole world.