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The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

Last updated on: July 26, 2011 16:02 IST

The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

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A blazing red Rolls-Royce customised with a machine gun for Umed Singh II, the erstwhile Maharaja of Kota, who is said to have used the car for hunting tigers, is now up for auction.

Equipped with powerful brass searchlights that swing side to side and an arsenal of animal killing weaponry, the 1925 Torpedo Tourer or 'Tiger Car' will be among six pre-war Rolls Royce and Bentley cars up for grabs at the Bonhams annual auction in California on August 18-19.

TEXT: PTI and http://www.rollsroycetigercar.com/#

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Image: The majestic Rolls-Royce 'Tiger Car'.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The Maharaja, also known as Sahib Bahadur, contacted Barker and Co. Coachworks of London, (est. 1710), Rolls Royce's preferred coachbuilder at the time, to specifically outfit this chassis with many unique features to fulfil his passion for big game hunting on his family's private grounds.

His family's enthusiasm for hunting was known worldwide.

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Image: The 'Tiger Car' is estimated to fetch between $750,000 and $1 million in the sale.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

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The Rolls-Royce company employed London coach builders Barker & Company to craft the specialised touring body for the royal and then shipped it to Mumbai.

In addition to standard luxury fittings the motorcar contains a hidden safe, a nickel-plated hissing snake horn, mounted Howdah gun (double-barrel shotgun in pistol form), rifle stand in the rear passenger compartment.

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Image: In addition to standard luxury fittings the motorcar contains a hidden safe, a nickel-plated horn.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

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The 'Tiger Car' is estimated to fetch between $750,000 and $1 million in the sale, according to information released by London-based auction house Bonhams.

The handmade automobile commissioned by the Maharaja, is powered by an 8 litre, 6-cylinder engine with dual spark ignition set to a low gearing ratio that allowed it to creep powerfully through the jungles of Rajasthan.

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Image: The Rolls-Royce Tiger Car stayed in India until it was purchased by Christopher Renwick.
Photographs: www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

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The Phantom also featured a mountable Lantaka cannon, attached to the bumper and a machine gun mounted on an attached matching trailer.

The Rolls-Royce Tiger Car stayed in India until it was discovered and purchased by collector Christopher Renwick in 1971.

Renwick was among the earliest enthusiast to uncover the special treasures of the Maharaja era.

Upon the car's return to England it was immediately sold to Rolls-Royce expert Charles Howard.

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Image: The nickel-plated hissing snake horn.
Photographs: www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The STUNNING Rolls Royce 'Tiger car' up for auction

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Collectors in UK and US previously owned the marque Tourer,  that has undergone two restorations in the 1960s and 1980s, says the auction house.

It is said that India accounted for over one third of the Rolls Royce sales between the two world wars.

Erstwhile Indian royals from Patiala, Bharatpur, Alwar, Mysore, Travancore were among those who purchased the automobiles.

Bonhams conducts the Quail Lodge sale every year in August in Carmel, California during the famed Pebble Beach Car Week.

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Image: It is said that India accounted for over one third of Rolls Royce sales between the two world wars.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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Rolls Royce introduced the New Phantom or Phantom I in early 1925.

Although the chassis remained the same as the Silver Ghost, the power train was a vast improvement over the previous model.

Rolls Royce introduced an all new pushrod OHV straight six cylinder engine that displaced 7668cc. or 467 cubic inches.

It was designed to have three groups of two cylinders with detachable head and incorporated a dual ignition with a coil and magneto.

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Image: Rolls Royce introduced the New Phantom or Phantom I in early 1925.
Photographs: www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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It was mated to a four speed manual gearbox. Rolls Royce stated then, as now, the horsepower was 'sufficient'.

The original chassis order from Rolls-Royce was processed on May 1 1925.

The chassis was delivered to Barkers on August 8, 1925.

In addition to regular Rolls-Royce fitments such as steering wheel color and instruments with luminous dials, the Maharaja instructed Barker's to add hunting specific items such as waterproof upholstery covers to cloak the crocodile-grained leather seating areas, an ammunition box, and two extra large Stephen Grebel searchlights, one for the front and one for the rear of the car.

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Image: The original chassis order from Rolls-Royce was processed on May 1 1925.
Photographs: www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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These lights were designed to swivel left to right to locate and startle big game.

Both of these high powered searchlights were powered by a heavy duty 100 amp battery which cost all of pound 3.3s and monitored by an optional ammeter.

The car also features an inclinometer panel. The final touch is the nickel plated snake horn.

Also unique to 23RC is the special small Chubb safe fitted on the passenger's side.

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Image: The car also features an inclinometer panel.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The safe was installed in order for the Maharaja to carry enough money to compensate the families of his hunting assistants if killed during the stalking of big game.

His helpers from nearby villages would beat the surrounding bushes with sticks and make noise hoping to direct the animals into the Maharaja's range of fire.

 If a stickman was killed by the wild animal, the Maharaja would reach into his safe and compensate the family with rupees equal to one year's supply of rice.

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Image: The Rolls Royce 'Tiger Car'.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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Umed Singh II was the ruling Maharaja of Kotah from 1889 to 1940.

He was invested with full ruling power at the age of 23.

He was educated at Mayo College in Ajmer and was a leading advisor to the government and was bestowed with many honors and titles, including the King George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935 and the King George VI Coronation Medal in 1937.

He died in 1940.

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Image: The searchlight fitted to the front of the car.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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The 'Tiger Car' has won numerous awards, including the Rolls-Royce of Canada Award at the Rolls-Royce National Meet 1991.

It received a second place in class at Pebble Beach in 1992.

In 1997, 23RC participated in the world's largest parade of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys as recognised by The Guinness Book of World Records.


Image: The Tiger Car has won numerous awards.
Photographs: Courtesy, www.rollsroycetigercar.com
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