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Time Machines. Part 1

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Diljeet Titus’ passion for historical cars has taken the shape of a museum that will enthrall generations of car freaks, as Shahwar Hussain found to his utter amazement one Sunday morning.

A large number of people who are interested in vintage and classic cars and bikes will surprise you, but unfortunately, very few have any access to these oldies other than at annual rallies. The people who own these precious motors are generally touchy and obsessive about their collection, and rightly so. It takes tremendous effort, both in terms of physical labour and finances, to restore a vintage car to its former glory. An enthusiast can drool over a vintage car for hours, soaking in the smooth flowing lines, the woodwork, the rich interiors and the intricate and sometimes weird engine.

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Now these enthusiasts can feast their eyes all day on these metal sculptures, and they have Diljeet Titus to thank for that. Titus has single-handedly built the first museum dedicated to vintage and classic cars in India. It is known as Pro Bono Publico, the Titus & Co. Museum for Vintage and Classic cars.

The pillarless structure built over an area of 6,000 sq. ft. houses 21 priceless cars, all under one roof. I am sure all car collectors secretly dream of building a structure where all their cars can be displayed but for most, that is exactly what it remains…a dream. Diljeet Titus has the dedication, passion and perseverance to pursue his dream, and it is no mean feat that he has managed to set up a museum all by himself. The museum will surely go a long way in preserving the fast dwindling motoring heritage of our country.

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Most cars in the museum come from the Land of Plenty. Buicks, Dodges, Chevrolets, Cadillacs and Jeeps take up a lion’s share of space. There is also a sprinkling of European cars. But the make of the car hardly matters.

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The car that undoubtedly takes centre stage is the Belgian Minerva Type AL. The massive car hits the visitors full in the face. Made in 1927, Minerva Type AL is a priceless gem, and only nine of them survive in the world. This one is the only such car you will ever get to see in the whole of Asia. The original owner, Raja Mohammed Amir Ahmed Khan of Mahmudabad in Uttar Pradesh, must have been a man of good taste for this is only one of two Type ALs that were ever built by the company with Variable Convertibility. The mechanically inclined will find this car rather interesting because of its sleeve valve engine and other unique features.

part 2

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