I met His Highness Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur at Pebble Beach, when he showed his wonderful, bright blue 1924 Rolls-Royce GLK-21, 20 HP Barker Tourer who finally won the Lucius Beebe Trophy. This was the first ever Pebble Beach trophy for an Indian entry,” says Claus Mueller – collector, racer and Managing Director of the Munich Café Racers.
It was great pleasure to visit Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar in his home, the City Palace of Udaipur, during the Holika Dahan festival, this year. What an incredible experience! Beside participating on both the traditional performances and the Holika Dahan ceremony as well as exploring the City Palace Museum, I visited the Royal Vintage and Classic Car Collection.
Two different personalities, miles apart, chasing a common passion
This is not a usual car museum. It is way beyond! All 20 classics which on display are cars of the royal family. They were used on a regular basis when new and found their place in the VCCC once retired. Many, if not most of them, are still in first hand. That makes them not only vintage cars, but pieces of history and tradition of the Mewar dynasty, to be cherished for years to come.
I was deeply impressed by the original and unrestored appearance of some of the cars. My personal favorite of the survivors is the 1930 Rolls-Royce Tourer GNS II 20/25 HP which was converted into a ‘safari car’ back in the days. The front fenders tell their own stories and I hope that nobody ever thinks of restoring her. It’s a delight to realize that all cars are in working condition and they are still used occasionally. I saw for myself, one of the huge 1938/39 Cadillacs being in charge during the Holika Dahan ceremony!
The carefully restored cars are pieces of beauty and works of art by themselves. Especially if they are not overrestored. A wonderful example is GLK-21, the Pebble Beach trophy winner. As I learned from the book ‘The Royal Udaipur RR GLK 21 Classic drive from Derby to Udaipur to Pebble Beach and Continues’ (which I can recommend not only because of the amazing history of the objective car but because it clearly shows what it takes to restore a vintage car!) the poor car sat in a corner of the City Palace for decades after being cannibalized for spare parts until the Maharana decided to restore her to former pride. So finally the old lady got back her original blue color and today she with no doubt is the Queen of the collection. What a great story! Its heartwarming to see my passion for classic cars being shared by the Maharana of Mewar!
Is this all for real?
VCCC is a live and standing example of how the buildings are built for their particular purpose. Back then all cars in Udaipur belonged to the royal family. So there is no question that the former Mewar State Motor Garage has its own pump station with the original Burma Shell pumps, one of which is still usable. What is a restaurant today used to be the workshop and the building of the HRH Garden Hotel served a living quarters for mechanics and drivers. I mean, this is a real ‘dream garage’ for me!
Let me take this chance to recommend the Royal Vintage and Classic Car Collection to every car guy visiting Udaipur – and to all other visitors, too.