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201225 Jun


1906 Renault Freres at the Tolly Car Show. Seen at the background in the white shirt and red cap is Shrivardhan Kanoria.

Once upon a time, Calcutta was home to the some of the finest vintage and classic cars in India. But as the decades rolled by, many of those cars have left the city of joy for their new found homes in Delhi, Mumbai and other parts of the country. But despite this irreplaceable loss, vintage and classic car connoisseurs can still find some solace among the jewels which still remain in the city. Autojunction takes a look at three cars which certainly occupy a place of pride.


1906 Renault Freres

The 1906 Renault Freres is the oldest surviving car in Calcutta. At 106, the car still runs like a bomb. This was one of the first cars that renowned collector and restorer the Late Shashi Kanoria had laid his hands on during the 1960s. And ever since then the car has been with the Kanorias and is most definitely one of their prized possessions. The Renalut Freres has been impeccably restored and its original parts are still intact. It has two cylinders and boasts of 1200 cc engine displacement. The car has beaded edged wooden rims and lamps which are lit with the help of kerosene and carbide. Its cycle like tyres need 60 psi of air pressure and its seats are made out of horse leather. It has been a winner right from its initial days appearing in around 20 rallies and winning innumerable awards. Presently, the Reanault is driven and maintained by Shrivardhan Kanoria.



1926 Auburn Tourer. Seen at the wheel is Deborshi Sadhan Bose along with his wife Shinjini Bose seated next to him.


1926 Auburn Tourer

This car originally belonged to the Debs of Sobhabazar Rajbari. She was lying unattended and forgotten out in the open since the 1940s and could barely be recognised when Partha Sadhan Bose discovered her in 1996. At first sight what the great marquee looked like was a bare skeleton of what was once a car. The car was finally bought in exchange of a pot of ‘raabri’, as the erstwhile owners refused to sell the car yet were willing to donate it, whereas Bose refused to take donation. So after much negotiation the price of the car was paid in exchange of the famous Bengali sweetmeat. The car arrived at the Bose’s residence in four matadors. A lot of hard work had gone in to carefully restore her. Bose was invited to Auburn, USA where he was awarded with an honorary membership of the prestigious Auburn Cord Duisenberg Museum for restoring a car, which according to the company did not exist anymore. Not surprisingly, she is the only piece in Asia. A regular winner at the Statesman Rally including the overall trophy.




Sanjay Ghosh driving his 1932 Ford V8 DeLuxe Phaeton at The Statesman Rally


1932 Ford V8 DeLuxe Phaeton

“Lady Bird” is the prized possession of city-based vintage car restorer and collector, Sanjay Ghosh. This 1932 Ford V8 Deluxe Phaeton originally belonged to his maternal grandfather and is a part of the family’s legacy. Ghosh’s maternal grandfather, late Justice J. P. Mitter had brought it after he came back from Oxford in 1932 for a princely sum of Rs 2,700. But since his grandfather brought it from Jalan Motors and Company on an installment, he had to shell out an extra 300 bucks. Mitter was very fond of motoring and he liked raw power. The Ford V8 Deluxe Phaeton was a hardy car and the engine was obviously a marvel and it enabled the owner to travel long distances uninterrupted. It had a 65 horse-power V-type engine and it could vie with the finest sports car. Also, the powerful engine was exceptionally quiet, smooth and flexible. As per the original brochure, one could throttle down to about 4 mph on the top gear ratio of 4.3 to 1. What's more the engine's quietness is retained at all moderate throttle opening. This eight-cylinder car was considered to be an engineering milestone. Ghosh’s grandfather regularly used the car from 1932 to 1952. When Ghosh became interested in restoring the car in 1972, it was inching towards complete ruin. For 20 years, it had been lying unattended in a semi-covered area and Ghosh had to put in a lot of hard work to restore it. Ghosh still has the original documents including the blue book and the original key and the key ring. This is perhaps the only car in India which has won 65 trophies from one single rally ground.





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