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  Life   More Features  08 Mar 2018  Vroomful of vintage

Vroomful of vintage

THE ASIAN AGE. | KAVI BHANDARI
Published : Mar 8, 2018, 6:58 am IST
Updated : Mar 8, 2018, 6:58 am IST

Classic cars and so much more, this Delhi honcho is behind a historical automotive gallery that will open soon.

Madan Mohan
 Madan Mohan

It takes a true connoisseur to cultivate a classic passion. And Madan Mohan, managing trustee, 21 Gun Salute Heritage and Cultural Trust is a man who’s love for vintage cars and bikes has embellished that swanky and burgeoning garage of vintage. The managing director, Deneb and Pollux Group of Companies and founder gets candid on his tryst with yesteryear beauties and more.

It all started when he was younger. In the year 2000, he purchased his first vintage car — a Dodge Victory6 1928. Now, 18 years later, Mohan has an impressive collection, 320 vintage cars and 106 bikes. “Vintage cars were, and are my dream. I always wanted to own one, a passion that developed into reality when I bought my first vintage car, followed by seven more. My passion has grown ever since and today I own more than 300 vintage and classic cars and around 106 vintage and classic bikes, clocks, typewriters and other antiques” he enthuses.

“Each vintage beauty has set a benchmark in the automobile industry that will never be reached again, in our lifetimes; that is why these prized possessions are so precious,” Mohan states. A childhood spent observing the palace cars with unbridled delight, he recalls, “Our house was close to the palace of Raja Sahab Khetri in Rajasthan and I used to admire his car, a Dodge Victory6 1928 that he drove around. Whenever I was free, I would go see his car. I was in love with cars (even then). Now, I think of how to showcase antiques so people can understand the culinary culture of the Rajas and Maharajas who also loved art and culture. Culinary activities are also a form of art. The best of the best used to work for the Maharajas in those days and I had the opportunity of meeting many Maharajas. I got their best dishes (for our menu). There are photos of Maharajas and the things they used. The Maharajas of Gwalior were the ones I got to meet,” says the man behind The 21 Gun Salute restaurant which he owns, adding, “The luxury of the palaces is portrayed, gramophones are placed. During the British period, Maharajas’ armies, revenues generated and land marked their level of respect. Only five maharajas were given a 21 gun salute, the highest honour. The government of India gives this honour to any head of state from another country. Of the five places in five states, there were Gwalior, Baroda, Jammu and Kashmir, Mysoor and Nizam of Hyderabad,” says Mohan.  

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The restaurateur and vintage collector speaks of how the restaurant captures the regal heritage, rich food and unique recipes emerging from the Royal Rasois, and is an inspiration from the princely states of India that were ranked the highest in terms of honour.

“This unique place will also feature a vintage car museum; offering a royal rendezvous with more than 250 hand-picked, rare and premium cars of the bygone era ranging from 1886 to 1970. We plan to take the number forward to 500 in a few years, a huge collection of bicycles from the 16th century, locomotives from early 17th to late 19th century, trucks, buses, 100s of horse carriages and numerous bullock carts along with a rare assemblage of photographs from the different princely states of India, this would be one of Asia’s biggest and world best automotive galleries,” he goes on.

Recipes from the royal gharanas, royal interiors, charismatic charm and the grand maharaja style is what Mohan has imbued into this labour of love. But back to cars, “In 2011, we celebrated the kick off of the 1st Edition of the 21 Gun Salute Vintage rally. The rally is hosted by the 21 Gun Salute Heritage and Cultural Trust every year and aims at preserving and promoting our great cultural heritage. In the future, the rally route will be extended to various Northern cities,” he describes.

Now, Mohan can be seen diligently working towards creating a world-class restoration unit with his 47 technicians to showcase this historical automotive gallery with classic beauties.

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