What makes these cars unique is that they were made to order for then wealthiest man in the world, the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, in 1906

The modern lean mean machines are no match for them. The timeless classics of the Nizam are a cut above the rest. Two Napier cars, which were recently restored, will be unveiled at the picturesque Chowmahalla Palace here on Tuesday. Along with the already restored Rolls Royce, they are set to bewitch visitors.

No wonder, the royal Napiers, made 107 years ago, stole the show at the Cartier Travel with Style De Elegance event held in Mumbai on February 10. They bagged the “Best of class Edwardian in the Napiers class”.

What is unique about these cars is that they were made to order for then wealthiest man in the world, the sixth Nizam, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, in 1906. The order was placed after Napier owner S.F. Edge managed to get an audience with the Nizam with great difficulty. Though six Napiers were ordered, only five were delivered and of them only two remain now.

Both cars are 1906 L76 40hp models, featuring larger radiators to cope with the Indian heat. They come with a distinctly different bodywork. Interestingly, both cars carry Urdu names painted under the windscreens in English. One is an enclosed limousine named ‘Mojil’ that has vents built into the raised central section of the roof for ventilation. The other, named ‘Ajeil’, is a more ornate open tourer, used for ceremonial purposes with a central seat for the Nizam. The seating was so positioned that all occupants faced the Nizam since it was considered impolite to show backs to the ruler. The car could also be turned into a convertible by dismantling the roof section.

Both the Napiers were in a pretty bad shape – dumped and neglected. Thanks to the keen interest taken by Princess Esra Jah, the former wife of Prince Mukarram Jah Bahadur, they now sport a new look.

Interestingly, it took a royal scion to restore them. Manvendra Singh, the son of Raja Bharvani, restored the Napiers at his workshop in Indore. He took six months to bring back the original form. Mr. Singh has taken pains to give the original colour to the Napiers. Well, how much did the restoration cost? “I have no idea. It was all handled by the Princess,” says G. Kishan Rao, director, Chowmahalla Palace. But he is sure the Napiers will add to the automobile heritage and pride of Hyderabad. There are still four royal cars that remain to be restored. Palace authorities hope to refurbish them one by one.

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