by Shashi Sunny
An Indian beauty, the magnificent 1933 Minerva Type AL owned by Delhi based lawyer Diljeet Titus has won the First Place in the ‘People’s Vote’ in the “Cars of the Art Deco Era” category at the inaugural Concours Virtual. The online Concours d’Elegance, presented by Hagerty in aid of UNICEF, is a global competition of over 180 of the world’s most remarkable motor cars belonging to all eras. The contest is being judged by a panel of 44 leading experts which includes the who’s who of the automotive world. Founder of The Titus Museum and Member of the Heritage Motoring Club of India (HMCI), Diljeet Titus said “I am delighted to see the Minerva emerge victorious on the world stage. This is proof of India’s growing status as a heritage motoring destination and the ever-increasing popularity of the classic car movement”
The Minerva owned previously by the Raja of Mahmudabad, United Provinces was the only entrant from India, and it came on top against formidable opposition from 14 iconic cars in the “Cars of the Art Deco Era”. The Seven-passenger Landaulet de Ville Coachbuilt by Carrosserie Van Den Plas of Brussels proved hugely popular with voters across India and beyond.
Described as the “one of the most competitive classes in the whole Concours”, the Cars of the Art Deco Era, sponsored by Meguiar’s, included a number of previous Best in Class and Best in Shows winners from the world’s top Concours events. It also brought together some of the classic car market’s most significant collectors vying for the top spot.
It was not an easy decision for the judging panel, which included McLaren F1 designer Peter Stevens, Andrea Zagato, Ken Gross, Patrick Peter, Christoph Grohe, and John Mayston-Taylor.
Announcing the results of the ‘Cars of the Art Deco Era’ on 12 July 2020, Geoff Love, Co-Chairman of the Concours Virtual remarked ‘We were delighted with the quality of cars entered in the Art Deco Class. Between them, the fourteen cars had won multiple Class and Best in Show Awards from major Concours events around the world. The public really got behind the class too, with thousands of votes coming in for a number of the cars’.
David Lillywhite, Co-Chairman added ‘The Minerva was a popular winner of the People’s vote. India has a thriving Concours scene and it was great to see so many get behind the car and propel it to victory.’
S.B. Jatti Senior Vice President, HMCI said “This is a proud moment for all of us as at the HMCI in India the Minerva succeeded in showcasing India’s rich motoring heritage. The Minerva embodies the artistic flair of the art deco era. To transform a barn-find car into a Concours-winning car is truly gratifying and I want to thank the entire team headed by Mr. Manvendra Singh Barwani in India involved in its restoration”.
Diljeet Titus said “I wish to thank, author & motoring historian Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan, for his tireless efforts and end-to-end service which made the participation of the Minerva in the Concours appear so seamless. I am also thankful to each and everyone among the HMCI, friends, and family who voted for the Minerva in such large numbers across India which made this win possible’. We are grateful for the efforts of Manvendra Singh Barwani for rescuing and passionately restoring this remarkable automobile and we are pleased that the team has played a role in its success on the world stage”.
Commenting on Minerva’s success, UAE-based author of ‘Automobiles of the Nizams’ Mohammed Luqman Ali Khan added, “It is gladdening to witness the 1933 Minerva AL win the First Place by popular vote and succeed on a global stage. I was working on a veteran Napier’s entry for a UK-based collector, but as the deadline for participation approached, I strongly felt we must field a car from India too, but which car, was the main question. I had a very tough decision to select a car from the whole of India which has a large number of impressive automobiles. I chose the Minerva and contacted its owner Diljeet Titus who happily agreed to field his car. The Minerva was a last-minute entry in the real sense of the phrase, as we managed to enter it just two minutes before the deadline. Once the Minerva was nominated there was much to do, from writing the car’s history, arranging videography of the car, despite the lockdown – which the owner-managed with remarkable ingenuity, and then the launching of the vote campaign by Heritage Motoring Club of India. But as they say, when passion fuels a pursuit then it is bound to succeed. I am glad I chose the Minerva and it turned out a winner. Minerva incorporates the Art Deco design elements with great finesse, in particular its well-appointed interiors.”
Competing in this first-ever online Concours elegance are some of the world’s most historic and valuable motor cars. Participants include the 1907 Thomas Flyer which won the transcontinental New York to Paris Race in 1908, a 1904 Napier L49 of the Nizam of the Hyderabad which is the oldest known surviving six-cylinder car in the world being entered from the UK, the 1967 BMW 507 of Elvis Presley owned by BMW Classic, Steve Mc Queen’s Land Rover, and an 1893 Salvesen Steam Wagonette to name a few. Over 180 priceless automotive gems valued in excess of $420 million from the world’s most famous museums and collections are in the fray, locked in an intense battle to win top honors.
Conceived by the innovative motoring-duo Geoff Love and David Lillywhite, the six-week-long inaugural online Concours has come as a welcome distraction from the gloom & doom amidst the Covid-19 pandemic which has led to the cancellation of many major motor shows and Concours events across the world. The online event is a testament to the indomitable motoring spirit of automotive enthusiasts & collectors who are now able to enjoy virtual Concours from the comfort of their homes. For more visit.
The full results were as follows – Class C: Cars of the Art Deco Period
First Place: 1933 Minerva Type AL Landaulette (Diljeet Titus)
2nd Place: 1938 Delage D8-120 by De Villars (Fritz Burkard)
3rd Place: 1936 Chrysler C9 Airflow Coupe (Mark Becker)
Best in Class: 1939 Delahaye 165 by Figoni & Falaschi (Mullin Automotive Museum)
2nd Place: 1938 Delage D8-120 by De Villars (Fritz Burkard)
3rd Place: 1935 Hispano Suiza K6 Brandone (Richard Magides)