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Madan Mohan lives up the royal passion, owns 200 vintage cars and 88 bikes
Madan Mohan's penchant for vintage cars dates back to his childhood days when as an 11-year-old kid, he would watch the Maharaja of Khetri leaving his palace in his stunning royal cars. Born in Rajasthan's Khetri town and now settled in Gurgaon, Mohan, who is also managing director of Deneb & Pollux group of companies, owns 200 vintage cars and 88 bikes, which are still a symbol of the golden era of automotive industry. He speaks to citizen journalist Rajat Bhatia and tells him more about his passion for vintage cars.

Is there any special reason behind your interest in collecting vintage cars?

I was born in Khetri, Rajasthan and our home was very near to the palace of Maharaja of Khetri. Every day I would watch the Maharaja leave in his royal car. That always fascinated me. The dream to own these cars started in those days only when I was just 11 or 12-years-old.

When and how did you start collecting cars?

When I came to Delhi and started earning I bought my first car in the year 2000. I started the travel company Deban & Pollux in 2000 and by the end of the year I bought my first vintage car - Dodge6 1928. I bought it from Khetri and it was the same Maharaja's car which I used to see in my young age.

Which are your favourite vintage models and why?

My favourite is 1927's Rolls Royce. It is very beautiful car and was previously owned by Maharaja of Darbhanga. It attracted me because this was the most expensive and very rare car of its time. That's why it is very special to me.

What other cars and brands you possess in your collection?

I have cars manufactured by Ford, Chrysler, Buick, Packard, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Bentley.

How do you manage to maintain these cars as it might be difficult to find spare parts?

We import all these parts. Like this part has come from US (showing one spare part lying beside him). This is a timing gear of the car model of 1929.

In the US do they still have these spare parts?

In India, we have only 3000 cars but there are 23 million vintage cars in the US. There are lots of people who still make these parts or have old parts in stock already.

Do you receive any requests from potential buyers who want to purchase cars or bikes from your collection?

I am always a buyer for these cars but I never sell these cars. It’s my passion and right now I consider myself only a beginner as it is only 10-year-old passion and the collection too is only 10-year-old. I want to acquire more cars.

Do you have any target number of cars to acquire?

There are no such targets, and you can’t fix targets in this case. It is very hard to find these cars and one can’t know from where these precious cars emerge in front of you. Sometimes you find five cars in a year and sometimes you can’t find a single car in whole year.

How do you search, source and acquire vintage cars?

I have a huge network of people all over India - from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. So wherever and whenever someone is willing to sell his car I come to know about it. Generally nobody sells these precious cars until and unless they have some financial need. So people sell these things before selling their homes.

From which countries other than India do you source vintage cars?

Import or export of these cars is banned, so it’s not possible to buy cars from other countries. We can only imports spare parts, not cars.  

How frequently do you organize rallies involving these cars like "21 Guns Salute"?

Every year in December we organize this rally. This last one was the third edition of the rally.

How was the response in all previous editions?

It was very good. Overwhelming! This time there were almost more than 20,000 visitors to this rally.

What are the criteria to participate in the rally?

One should have vintage car that is all. No other special criteria.

Does your family encourage you to cultivate your vintage car collection? Did allocation of resources become an issue in your family when it came to building your car collection?

Yes, they always do. Though my wife never says anything or interferes in my passion but my kids like this very much. And thus I am not worried about these cars in future. I know after me my children will take care of these cars as they love them as much as I do. But my wife always supports me as without wife's support one can’t do anything and if you don’t have family support one day you will give up.

Since you also run a restaurant, '21 Guns Salute' - does it mean you have twin passions - cars and food?

I have no other habits but food. We opened this restaurant so that all special royal cuisines could reach to common man. Rate is Rs 750 per person so cost is also not very high for the people coming.

Is there a brand connect between 21 Guns Salute and your vintage car collection?

The only connection in both is that both are owned by me (laughs).

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