Maharajah Holker of Indore, and his fabulous cars

Mercedes Benz owned by the Holkar Family.akshay-chavan.blogspot

For the rich and famous world over with lots of money at their disposal, as it was their wont, a life of pomp and show was part of their life - style to get recognition in the society. In the case of Indian Maharajahs, they have to maintain their respectability, their royal tradition and legacy. Retaining  some kind of aura about them  is a must to maintain their status in the society. 

Ford models, mass production, Ford Motor co, USA.

Since the introduction of automobiles, which were a novelty in those days  in the west, especially in the USA, the rich  Indian rulers, having lost their  taste in  conventional, mundane  stuff like jewellery, antiques, etc., turned their attention to  trendy stuff such as expensive, flashy cars which the automobile companies had begun to produce for the super rich people.

Alpha Romeo owned by Maharaja Holkar, Indore.akshay-chavan.blogspot

The Rolls-Royce 10 hp car  en.wikipedia. org  

 Above image: The Rolls-Royce 10 hp, which was the first car to be produced as a result of the agreement between Charles Rolls and Henry Royce- the family surname. Holker's favorite car..........

 The maharajahs loved the automobiles very much because it was fun to own them and was useful to go around the place quickly in grand style. Automobiles became handy for them when they went hunting wild animals along with British higher ups. Most importantly they had the money to order a fleet of cars at a time.

Many of the Maharajahs  had a big garage  built for the safe custody of  their large collection of  expensive cars,  employed  numerous people to take care of the daily choirs - cleaning, washing, changing  tires, etc. They also employed knowledgeable  car mechanics to keep their cars in good conditions. Some careful rulers took extra care and  had kept  enough  spares ready to replace the worn-out parts and to get the car going, because  initially it was difficult to get the spares from parent companies abroad. As the demand for cars  increased, many companies had a sales depot with spares and service facilities opened in India in the late 1930s and 1940s. 

The Holkar owned Lagonda car (Note the "sun-glow" saffron and black design)

Duesenberg owned by Maharajah Holker. akshay-chavan.blogspot  

 Above image: he “Maharajah Duesenberg”, the largest, the last and the most expensive Duesenberg ever made............

The Holkar dynasty  founded by Malhar Rao, ruled as  Maratha Rajas  and later Maharajahs of  Central India as an independent member of the Maratha Empire until 1818. Later it was a  princely state with capital at Indore, now a big city in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Malhar Rao, who was in the service of  Baji Rao I, the peshwa (prime minister) of the Maratha state, in early1720s, proved his loyalty,  and  became  a Subedar. Subsequently the dynasty became rulers known as  Holkar dynasty over Indore. Because of his success in the Malwa region, he was granted nine parghanas in the vicinity of Indore by the Peshwa.

Sir Yeshwant Rao Holkar, Maharaja of

Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar, son and successor of  Maharajah Tukojirao Holkar, who was a true lover  of automobiles and took so much pain to  build up the most stunning   collection of cars in India. Not even the Maharaja of Mysore or of Patiala or even the Nizam of Hyderabad had a comparable collection of cars. For Maharaja Yeshwantrao Holkar to order a fine and stunning car,“cost was not an issue”

The Holkar family took the credit of being  among the earliest  royal families to drive cars in a time, when cars were considered as great novelty.  In their family even female members took interest in fancy cars and competed with the males. Maharani Chandravatibai Holkar, the wife of Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar, son of Yasvant Rao
was one of the first woman drivers among the rich and royals.

Yeshwantrao Holkar's obsession with automobiles was such that he had developed good technical knowledge  about the cars and the way the various mechanical parts were functioning and how to troubleshoot in case the car developed some problems. Mostly he preferred custom made cars and paid minute attention to every detail, design of car handle, impressive interior, good upholstery, the shape and design of car for better petrol consumption , design of front grill, foot rest, etc. No doubt his impressively designed, chic cars were famous in the USA and other foreign countries. he had a large number of well trained people in his employ just to take care of his vast, fascinating collection of impressive, and very costly cars such Bentleys, Alpha Romeos and Rolls Royces. He was so fabulously rich he had a wonderful residence with huge space for his  cars in Beverly Hills ,California  (where the Hollywood stars and studio Moguls have lavish residences). He also had residences in Paris and the French Riviera. The ruler of Indore and his wife had close contacts with the elite of Europe and America .

 Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar had 3 superb cars, a 4.5 litre Lagonda, an open two seater sports body  and an aerofoil coupe Bentley.He also had seven passenger 1931 type 41B Pierce Arrow with a phaeton body, a Bugatti in blue, a Delahaye, a J12 Hispano Suiza and three Alfa Romeos.  In 1954, Maharaja ordered a 2-door teardrop sports Bentley R type continental, which sported all Holkar features and was used only in USA. His favorite car was 4.5 liter 1936 Bentley. In all, Maharaja owned six  Bentleys. Overall, he owned around 40 to 60. All Holkar cars including the Duesenberg had “HSC” number plates e.g “HSC-1” “HSC-3” etc which stood for “Holkar State Car”.

Of all the cars in the Holkar collection, the most famous and   expensive one was the fabled Maharajah Duesenberg made by US Car company that was active rom 1913 to 1937.  This Duesenberg was the largest, the most expensive as well as the last Duesenberg ever made. The ruler was just 28 and had been on the throne when he bought the Duesenberg in 1931.

This car used to be called ''Speedster Roadster" built on the model JN's 11-inch longer 153.5-inch wheelbase with 265 horsepower.It price tag was $9,500 for the chassis alone in 1931. With the same money you could buy 20 brand-new Model A Fords! The specially made car was supposed to be delivered to the ruler at his Santa Ana mansion, California. With impeding dangers of Japanese invasion, it at last reached Indore via Singapore.

Jay Leno, the American celebrity TV show host and the current owner of the Maharajah Duesenberg. He bought it in 2005.

Stepping into the shoes of his father, successor Maharaja Tukojirao Holkar took no less interest in cars  and became a true patron of cars and gathered over a period of time the best collection of cars that became envy of other royals.