On a warm November morning, Mumbai’s residents were treated to the sight of a convoy of Mercedes-Benzes encompassing all eras of the brand’s history. The 'rolling museum' was part of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally 2019 (MBCCR) and it saw over 130 three-pointed stars wow automotive enthusiasts. Now in its sixth edition, the rally has grown to become one of the biggest and most prestigious events of its kind in Asia.
What really did it for MBCCR 2019 showgoers was the sheer variety of cars on display, including a running replica of the Patent-MotorWagen. The phone cameras were out in full force as visitors got to see some gems like a 1938 230L Pullman, and the rare sight of the 170V in nearly all body styles, including Abbas Jasdanwalla’s uber-rare roadster. Also in attendance were two 300 Adenauers, one owned by Jasdanwalla, and the other by the Dubash family, along with models from every generation of the S-class and E-class. Merc’s illustrious family of SLs was there in all its glory, with every model part of the line-up at MBCCR 2019. Sam Katgara’s 190SL shared space with Nirmal Bhogilal’s 190SL that, interestingly, once belonged to actor Shashi Kapoor. The Maharaja of Gondal’s immaculate 300SL roadster (one of few single-owner 300SLs in the world) was the cynosure of all eyes. Hormusji Cama’s very rare 500K (believed to have once belonged to Heinrich Himmler), and Viveck Goenka’s 1929 W08 Nurburg, and pristine, Cartier Concours-winning 220SE were some of the other stars of the show.
The static display held at the Sofitel hotel was followed by a 25km leisurely drive to Worli Seaface via the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, and back. The route was lined by enthusiasts of all ages. Smiles and thumbs-ups shared between participants and spectators made this a Sunday drive to remember.
What was also remarkable was that all the cars that took part were in a drivable condition, with some even being driven down from other cities. Rajkot resident and MBCCR regular Vipul Lathia drove down in his Estate W124 and SLK (R170), while Vivek Lathia came in his W123. Dhrupad Shah drove down from Ahmedabad in his 300CE W124. Goa’s Pradeep Naik and Audith Timbo made a drive of the event coming in the W123 limousine and W114 220, respectively. The contingent from Pune included Shrinivas Thakur’s W110 190D and W108 250 and Dhananjay Badamikar’s W123 estate and sedan. Hormusji Cama’s 230 Pullman also made the journey by road from Pune; incredible for an 81-year-old car. The youngest collector at the show – 17-year-old Arihant Talera – brought his 300D V123 limousine down from Pune too.
“This event has become the most awaited of its kind for automotive enthusiasts. Apart from being the single largest gathering of timeless creations from Mercedes-Benz, what impresses me the most is the love of the owners in keeping these cars in immaculate condition,” said Martin Schwenk, managing director and CEO of Mercedes-Benz India.
“The variety this year was stunning. It was a veritable museum on wheels. Most of the cars on display could have easily taken part in a Concours anywhere in the world. The cars on display range from the Benz Patent-Motorwagen to the Maybach 62, so that's a century of cars from Mercedes-Benz. But, as importantly, the rally also represents the evolution of the motor car over the last 100 years," said Autocar India’s Perseus Bandrawala, who curated the event.
The 2019 edition also coincided with Mercedes’ 25th anniversary in India. To celebrate the occasion, iconic models like the Maybach 62 and the W124, the first made-in-India Mercedes, were also on display. It was also quite a sight to see the iconic 300SL flanked by its new-age descendants – the SLS AMG Gullwing (belonging to Jagdish Thackersey) and SLS AMG Roadster (owned by Siddharth Rawal). Industrialist and renowned car enthusiast Gautam Singhania was also a participant at the MBCCR 2019.
The day culminated with a felicitation ceremony where participants were awarded certificates, goodies and memorabilia.
If you missed MBCCR 2019, stay tuned for the full report and pictures in the December 2019 issue of Autocar India.
2019 Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally image gallery