From Mercs to Delahayes, Gautam Sen’s new book brings you the 101 Automotive Jewels of India.
Gautam Sen, one of the leading automotive journalists of India, is back with a follow up to his book The Maharajas & Their Magnificent Motor Cars – that documents vintage and iconic cars of India – and this time, it’s not limited to Indian royalty. The 101 Automotive Jewels of India, as the book is rightly called, takes the reader on a journey that is both enchanting and informative into the fascinating past of the iconic and remarkable automobiles that still exist in India. But it’s not an all-inclusive anthology of vintage cars in India, and it doesn’t claim to be so. Of course, there must be more than 101 vintage cars of historical importance existing in India, but a book of this nature has its limitations and cannot possibly hope to include all existing examples of aesthetical and technological brilliance. What it is and what Sen – acting as an arbiter elegantiae, and rightly so – claims it to be is a collection of the most interesting, beguiling, historically relevant, easily accessible and well-preserved automobiles in India. But the book is more than just a compendium of elegant vintage cars, it’s an attempt to tell the story of the evolution of the automobile and of those who contributed to it.
In chronological order, every chapter of the book features one car and narrates the history of its origin and development, as well as the journey it had to undertake to come to the shores of India and find a home with its present owner. Most of these stories are interesting and engrossing in their own right. Some of these cars were salvaged and restored from conditions capable of inspiring pure horror in the hearts of auto enthusiasts. But, this is what makes a story interesting – a perfect amalgamation of ups and downs, not just a laudable past but also moments of neglect and rejection.
The research and effort that has gone into the making of the book is visible on its pages and so is Sen’s passion for preserving and celebrating the automotive history of India. Complementing Sen’s efforts are beautiful, and professionally captured, photographs of automotive rarities by Makarand Baokar. From the sleek-looking Delahaye 135MS to elegantly-stylish Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster and from a vintage and sporty Lancia Astura racing special to a futuristic-looking (in its own time, of course) Imperial Crown Southampton Hardtop Sedan – all of them appear on the pages of the book as a beautiful blend of elegance and technology. Enthusiasts are sure to love it, especially those with a penchant for appreciating the past.
With its fluid and narrative prose – apart from a few hiccups here and there – the book transcends the limitations of a coffee-table book. Sen has been triumphant in not only making the book informative but also interesting and entertaining – almost every chapter reads like a short story. Containing 272 pages and over 370 beautifully shot photographs, the book is priced at Rs.2,360 and is available on Amazon India. So, if you’ve a predilection for automotive rarities, you shouldn’t give it a miss.