Heritage building renews romance with Mercedes-Benz

Updated - March 29, 2016 05:39 pm IST

Published - August 27, 2015 12:00 am IST - Chennai:

A view of Gove Building, the heritage building housing Mercedes-Benz showroom, on Mount Road. —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

A view of Gove Building, the heritage building housing Mercedes-Benz showroom, on Mount Road. —Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Gove Building on Mount Road is fast approaching its hundredth birthday. When it crosses the milestone in 2016, grand festivities can be expected. That event will be the culminating point of a celebration that is already under way.

VST Group has given the history-rich Gove Building a memorable gift – machines from Mercedes-Benz. Through its subsidiary, VST Titanium Motors, which has a Mercedes-Benz dealership, the Group has now turned the building into a showroom for these luxury cars. If walls could speak, this building would resonate with the sounds of nostalgia, recounting how its heritage walls had earlier romanced Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

For, this new development signals a reunion between Gove Building and Mercedes-Benz. In the 1950s and 1960s, VST sold what were called Tata Mercedes-Benz trucks. These machines were the result of Tata and Daimler-Benz teaming up in 1954 to manufacture medium commercial vehicles.

From commercial vehicles to luxury cars, the relationship between Gove Building and Mercedes-Benz has noticeably changed. However, it has always been a relationship that has evoked considerable public interest. Whenever an exciting Tata Mercedes- Benz truck model arrived at the building, the news would be proclaimed, and people would respond enthusiastically. To give one instance, in 1964, the arrival of a

handsome 7-tonner Tata Mercedes-Benz was announced with great excitement, and people were invited to have a look at it.

While renewing its relationship with Mercedes-Benz, Gove Building seems to have shed a part of its character without however giving up its soul. Arun Surendra, managing director, VST Titanium Motors, says the external part of the structure has been left untouched. Its stone columns continue to define its unique character. Changes have been carried out only on the inside.

As it owns the building, considered one of the finest structures from colonial Madras, for seven decades, the VST Group has reasons to be proud of it.

Built in 1916, when it was known as Cuddon Building, the edifice was bought and renamed in 1943 by the Group’s founder V.S. Thiruvengadaswamy Mudaliar. On Wednesday, when the 15,000 sq.ft Mercedes-Benz showroom at Gove Building saw the light, VST Titanium Motors launched two other Mercedes-Benz facilities in the city, a 25,000 sq.ft. showroom in Okkiyam-Thoraipakkam and a 45,000 sq.ft. service centre at the Perungudi Industrial Estate.

In look and focus, the Thoraipakkam showroom seems to be in great contrast to the Gove Building showroom.

The former seeks to tap into the massive market offered by the IT corridor and the developments in its vicinity, says Mr. Surendra. One day; three facilities; a cumulative area of 85,000 sq.ft. — one of the remarks that were made during the launch.

“Full of interesting contrasts,” — an observation that could well be added to this remark.

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