Rulers of Baroda – Early Pioneer Motorists
A peek into the Maharajas’ stunning collection of over thirty bespoke Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars befitting their great wealth and taste.
The rulers of the State of Baroda, India were early pioneer motorists and in the early 20th Century took an increasing interest in the motor car products of Rolls-Royce. The Maharajas amassed a stunning collection of over thirty bespoke Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars befitting their great wealth and taste. This article demonstrates their bourgeoisie and the Rolls-Royce motor cars enjoyed by H.H. the Maharaja Sir Sayajirao III of Baroda and his Grandson and heir, Major General H.H. The 'Maharaja Sir Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad of Baroda.
His Highness Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III was one of the early pioneer motorists. In the records of Messrs. Turner, Hoare & Co., engineers of Bombay, they exhibited Renault and Peugeot cars at the 1903 Delhi Durbar (the occasion to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII). Many native princes purchased cars from them including H.H. the Gaekwad of Baroda.
Montague Grahame-White aptly recounts in The Car of 25 February 1903, “One instance of the number of carriages arriving by train at Delhi Station, which will give the reader some idea of the magnitude of the traffic, when the Maharaja of Baroda brought with him 117 carriages and three times the number of horses, two huge elephant carts, a LiFu Steam Wagonette, and two small motor cars. By no means is this a solitary example of the conveyances brought by each maharaja attending the Durbar."
When the Motor Union of Western India proposed to hold reliability trials in 1904, His Highness offered a handsome silver trophy known as 'The Gaekwar's Cup'. This prize was for the car which undertook the trials with the least number of voluntary stops over a distance of 880 miles between Delhi and Bombay from 26-December 1904 through 2-January-1905. It is interesting to note that S F Edge sent out to India a 20 hp Napier that was driven in these trials by Basil Johnson, the brother of Claude Johnson, who was to play a major role in the formative years of the Rolls-Royce Company.
Records are scanty as to other makes acquired by the Baroda State Garages and sent to India or retained in Europe but they included at least two French De Dietrich cars and a 191045-50 hp Mercedes Landaulette by Brainsby & Sons. The following list of opulent and prolific cars owned by the Gaekwad’s, is a testament to their insatiable zeal:
- 1911 Silver Ghost (Chassis 1721) Barker "Whitmore" Landaulette in dark blue with cloth upholstery with ivory interior handles. This is most likely the car rebodied as a Tourer by the French Motor Car Co. of Bombay in 1916 for Prince Dhairyashilrao.
- 1914 Silver Ghost (1AB) Hooper open-drive Landaulette in dark blue with grey silk brocaded upholstery. Nickel fittings. Reg: R-1959.
- 1914 Silver Ghost (60LB) Colonial L to E, H J Mulliner Open-Drive Landaulette in maroon with fawn cloth upholstery Nickel fittings. Reg: R-2349 (Formerly owned and restored by the author, now surviving in America).
- 1919 Silver Ghost (36LW) Rothschild Open¬ Drive Landaulette with nickel fittings.
- 1920 Silver Ghost (55CW) Barker Tourer finished in French grey with dark green lines with dark green leather. For Prince Jaisinhrao.
- 1921 Silver Ghost (109LG) Hooper Side-Light Cabriolet in dark blue.
- 1924 Silver Ghost (106EM) Barker enclosed limousine in dark blue with dark green silk cloth upholstery for Prince Dhairyashilrao.
- 1925 Silver Ghost (30EU) Barker Pullman limousine fitted with Dunlop steel artillery wheels, nickel fittings for H.H. The Maharaja.
- 1927 Phantom I (71 RF) A Mulliner Enclosed¬ Drive Landaulette.
- 1928 Phantom I (75EH) A Mulliner Landaulette de Ville.
- 1929 Phantom II (70WJ) Barker Tourer finished in ivory and blue with blue leather upholstery. India Trials Car. Reg: X-6551 sold to Prince Pratapsinhrao. Recess for revolver in off side front door. Nacrolaque instrument board. Accessorized with two Alvis nickel plated Lucas wing lamps.
- 1929 Phantom II (101WJ) Kellner Cabriolet de Ville for H.H. the Maharani.
- 1930 Phantom II (101 GY) A Mulliner Landaulette exhibited at the October 1930 Motor Show and sold to Prince Pratapsinhrao.
- 1933 20/25 (GTZ27) Thrupp & Maberly Landaulette sold new to Mrs M Herbertson Dawson, Kent. Subsequently, it was re sold to Prince Pratapsinharao.
- 1934 Phantom II (30SK) Windovers Drop Head Coupe for Prince Pratapsinhrao.
- 1934 Phantom II (104SK) Kellner Enclosed¬-Drive Landaulette with a white finish to the instruments with black figures. Exhaust cut-out fitted. Lalique mascot mounted on the scuttle. Exhibited on the Kellner stand at the Paris Salon and supplied to Her Highness The Maharani.
- 1934 20/25 (GAE3) Kellner Enclosed-Drive limousine exhibited on the Kellner stand at the Paris Salon for the Prince of Baroda.
- 1934 20/25 (GAE45) Hooper Sports Saloon for H.H. the Maharani.
- 1935 20/25 (GBJ71) Thrupp & Maberly Landaulette finished in grey and black with West of England cloth interior for H. H. The Maharaja.
- 1936 Phantom III (3-AX-201) Enclosed limousine by Hooper with sun roof finished in blue and black with red line and blue brocade upholstery. Front seat black leather. Gold plated fittings. Bracket for flagstaff at base of kneeling lady mascot. Heraldry: Crown and sword emblazoned on waist rail. CD plate at rear.
- 1937 Phantom III (3-BU-106) Kellner Enclosed-Drive limousine fitted with Marchal headlamps, ivory white equipment including steering wheel, change gear and brake lever handles; white dials with black figures; 6 Ace wheel discs with chrome plate ribs. For H.H. The Maharani.
- 1937 Phantom III (3-CP-112) Windovers Saloon finished in 'Wilcolac' emerald green throughout. Trimming: Leopard skin, supplied by client; carpets front and rear in leopard skin; ivory finish to facia board, steering wheel and control knobs. Note: Heater, Rolls-Royce mascot, spare wheel covers, sunshine roof - not required. To the order of Prince Pratapsinhrao Gaekwad.
- 1938 Phantom III (3-DL-96) Park Ward Tourer originally supplied to the Yuvaraja Saheb Mallendra Sinhji of Morvi. Second owner: The Prince of Baroda.
- 1938 Wraith (WXA3 7) Park Ward Saloon used as a trials car. Reg: EYX 362 and featured in The Autocar 22 September 1939. Sold in January 1940 to H.H. The Maharani.
- 1938 Wraith (WRB20) Binder Saloon for Princess Poniatowska, Paris. Sold second hand to H.H. the Maharaja of Baroda, The Dorchester Hotel, London, June 1945 - February 1946.
- 1946 Bentley Mk VI (B8AK) Vanden Plas Saloon in silver and blue grey for H.H. The Maharaja. Shipped to Bombay per S.S.'Nirvana' on 25 January 1947.
- 1946 Bentley Mk VI (B30AK) H J Mulliner Saloon in two shades of blue and grey, Perspex panel and sliding roof in rear. For H.H. the Maharani.
- 1946 Bentley Mk VI (B42AK) H J Mulliner Drop-Head Coupe in 'Belco' grey. Car handed over to H.H,'s chauffeur on 8 August 1947 for H,H. the Maharaja.
- 1946 Bentley Mk VI (B194AK) Bentley Motors Saloon in pearl grey and sold via Dadajee Dhackjee & Co., Bombay, for H.H. The Maharaja of Baroda.
- 1948 Bentley Mk VI (B273BG) H J Mulliner Drophead Coupe in red and black for H.H. The Maharani.
- 1951 Silver Wraith (ALW2) H J Milliner limousine with beige tapestry upholstery and gold fittings for H.H. The Dowager Maharani Chimnabai.
- 1956 Silver Wraith (LELW97) H J Mulliner Touring Limousine for H.H. The Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda and used in France.
- 1963 Phantom V (5-LPA-69) James Young touring limousine for H.H. The Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda and used in France.