Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally 2019: A Convoy of Elegance
An insightful interview with Perseus Bandrawalla, the curator of the Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally
After an extended monsoon season, Mumbai was greeted with a pleasant sunny morning on the 10th of November. But that wasn’t the only treat for Mumbai’s residents. A convoy of immaculate and pristine Mercedes Benz cars of all shapes, sizes, makes, and colors elegantly rolled out on the streets of Mumbai as part of the Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally 2019.
Organized first in 2014, the Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally is a prestigious event and rightfully regarded as one of its kind in all of Asia. This edition, however, was a bit more special. Mercedes Benz commemorated their 25th year in the sub-continent and Autocar India celebrated their 20th anniversary.
This year’s Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally captured the very essence of the Mercedes Benz brand and its paramount legacy. Organized by Autocar India at the Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai, some of the most unique and finest Mercedes-Benz models in India were on display - and in graceful motion.
I had the wonderful opportunity to attend this year’s MBCCR, courtesy of Drivetribe’s Indian Ambassador, Shivaum Punjabi, along with some fellow DriveTribers Yash, AJ, and Kushan.
The event was a visual treat packed with some truly breathtaking stars including the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (one of the few single-owner cars of its kind in the world), the Nurburg, the 500K, Mercedes-Benz Adenauer limousines, a 1938 230L Pullman, all body styles of the 170V, among others.
Also present were W123’s, W124, two amazing 190E Cosworth tribute cars and a special W124 with a Toyota Supra 2JZ engine! There were several modern classics such as the Mercedes-Benz SECs and SLCs that turned heads as did the Maybach 62 and two SLS AMG’s.
The Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally is curated by Perseus Bandrawalla and although I couldn’t interview him at the event, he was kind enough to give me an email interview. Read on!
Can you tell us about your journey setting up the Mercedes classic car rally?
The Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Rally started in 2014 as a rally/event to celebrate 120 Years of Motorsport by Autocar and Mercedes-Benz. It’s grown significantly from then. This is the 6th edition of the show and I'm happy to say we've grown year on year in the number of entries and the quality of cars.
What qualifies as a classic Mercedes car?
All Mercedes-Benz passenger cars produced up to 1996 are eligible to participate in the 2019 iteration of the event. In addition, the following models produced until the end of their life cycle are eligible to participate:
• R129 SL Class (all years)
• R170 SLK Class (all years)
• W140 S Class (all years)
• W124 E Class (all years)
• W202 C Class (all years)
• W461 G Class (all years)
• W163 ML Class (up to 2001)
To celebrate 25 Years of Mercedes Benz in India, this year we had some modern classics at the show like the SLS AMG roadster and the SLS gullwing to compliment the 300SL. Similarly, we had the Maybach 62 to compliment the Adenauer Limousines.
Which is the best Mercedes to have ever been part of the classic car rally?
We have some pretty special cars participating year on year like the Maharaja of Gondal's 300SL roadster, the only one in the country and one of the few in the world still with the original owner.
Then you have a very rare 1929 Nurburg W08 with a touring body owned by Viveck Goenka one of few surviving in the world and Mr. Hormusji Cama's 500K roadster which is believed to be once owned by Heinrich Himmler.
These along with some rare Maharaja cars and every single body-style of the 170V model are some of the highlights of this year's show and some of my favorites.
How has the Mercedes classic car rally evolved during the years?
What makes this show unique is that you have cars from the 1885 Benz Patent Motorwagen replica to the Maybach 62 and SLS AMGs. That's over a century of cars from Mercedes-Benz which showcases not just the evolution of the Mercedes Brand but also the evolution of the motor car as a concept.
Also, most of the cars here today are good enough to be at any concurs. The quality of restoration on most cars is world class. Also, over the years the number of cars being prepared by renowned restorers and authorized workshops specifically for the event has grown too.