An avid rallyist during his younger days, Subrata Sen learnt to drive at the tender at of 11. The 1934 Mercedes Benz 130 H is one of his most prized possessions.
How did you develop an interest in vintage cars?
My love affair with cars started from my childhood. We had several European and American cars during those days. Ford V8, Chevrolet Bellaire, Buick Super 8, Morris 1000 station wagon was some of the cars that we owned.
How did you acquire this car?
During the late seventies, I was on the look out for a good European car. One fine Sunday morning in 1979, I spotted a small advertisement in The Statesman that a 1934 Mercedes and a 1947 Willys Jeep were on sale. The owner (Mr. Arun De) wanted to sell both the cars to a single person. Somehow I convinced him to sell the Mercedes to me.
Tell us about the history of the car?
To the best of my knowledge, less then 10 such cars are in existence throughout the world. This car is the only one in South-East Asia. Mr. S. R. Sengupta, who later went on to become one of the directors of IIT, Kharagpur had gone to Germany to study engineering. When he came back to Kolkata after finishing his studies, he brought this car with him.
How did your wife react when you brought the car home for the first time?
I had kept my wife out of the loop while the deal was being struck. When I brought the car home for the first time, I parked it outside. Then I went to my wife and informed her about my latest acquisition. Her immediate reaction was “Oh my God! What have you done? What are we going to do with this car?” Thirty years down the line, I think she has made her peace with it.
How do you maintain this car?
Honestly, it takes very little to maintain this car. We dust it on a daily basis and avoid using water frequently to prevent rusting.
How often to do you drive the car?
I intend to drive the car at least once every week but it is not always possible.
What awards and trophies has this car won?
At The Statesman Vintage & Classic Car Rally 2009, the car won the A.A.E.I. Trophy for the best performance for the road section for cars built between 1930-35.
How special is this car to you?
I am extremely attached to it. It is like a member of the family. I hold this car close to my heart and never want to part with it.
How do you feel when you go out for drives in this car?
It feels wonderful whenever I take the car out for a drive. Quite naturally it attracts a lot of attention from the public.
Famous Bengali actor of yesteryears Pahari Sanyal, who was a friend of Mr. Arun De used to drive this car to the Tollygunge film studio regularly. After a point of time, a lot of people actually started to think that it belonged to Pahari Sanyal.