The fabulously wealthy royal families of India, those who ruled the scattered provinces of the subcontinent during the British reign that ended in 1947, had a special affinity for Rolls-Royce automobiles.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance celebrated the Motor Cars of Raj with a special class in 2018, with most of them being lavishly equipped Rolls-Royce automobiles from the early part of the 20th Century.
The Pick of the Day is a 1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost touring phaeton that was “originally supplied to Maharajah Sir Manmathanath Roy Choudhary of Santosh,” according to the Astoria, New York, dealer advertising the British classic on ClassicCars.com.
This Rolls, chassis number 47AG, was delivered by the automaker’s Calcutta agent, G. Mein Austin, when new but apparently without the coachwork. It was then bodied by a specialist in India, although the factory records are unclear, the seller says.
“Interestingly, this car is listed on its order document as ‘Body to be built in India’ – the maker is not listed, though, it is aptly described as ‘sporty open touring’ and has long been thought to be the work of Steuart & Co. of Calcutta,” the ad description says.
“Mr. Austin’s order was on behalf of His Highness, the Raja of Santosh, another serial Rolls-Royce customer, who had bought a Ghost in 1921 and would succeed this car with a Phantom 1. He was based in a smaller princely state in the former East Bengal.
“The factory records note the correct ownership of the Raja of Santosh in 1927, and on his being knighted in 1930, this is then crossed out and corrected to his new title of ‘The Hon. Raja Sir Manmath Roy Chowdhury (sic) of Santosh,’ written in.”
His Highness died in 1939, the seller says, and by 1969, the Rolls was known to have been shipped to the US, according to the factory records.
The current owner has enjoyed the Rolls for the past 16 years, the seller notes, mainly as a driver rather than a show car. “The car has recently been checked over and is reported to be running nicely,” the seller adds.
This Rolls seems like a wonderful historic treasure, originally owned by Indian royalty and presented in good condition with what looks like appropriate patina. While it seems hard to value such an unusual piece, the asking price is $229,500.
To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.