Connoisseur's Corner

“The Auburn was ours just for a pot of Raabri”

The gates of this mansion open to a majestic marquee. Antique is too less a word to describe Bose Nilay, its artefacts and its priceless anthology of legendary cars. The nine vintage and classic cars are the Bose family’s fetish. Partha Sadhan Bose, a champion rallyist and businessman, developed a passion for these wonder wheelies sometime in 1983. Rajeswari Sen spoke to his son Deborshi, also an avid rallyist and his wife Shinjini, about their most prized possession, the Auburn Tourer.

    • How did your procure the Auburn?

– The car was lying under the hot sun at the Sovabazar Rajbari. We got to know about it from a friend in 1996. It was waiting for us to rescue it. The erstwhile owners of the car were not willing to put a price to it, while we were not ready to take it without our show of gratitude. The cost of the car finally boiled down to a pot of Raabri (a famous Bengali sweet).

    • What was the condition of the car?

– It was a ghost of a car when we discovered it: rusty, damaged and with motorcycle rims. Thankfully, we got many spare parts from a garage that was a part of the Rajbari escapade.

    • How did you restore the car?

– The car came in bits and pieces in four trucks. It was put together like a jigsaw puzzle. We start the restoration after we get details about a car and its parts from reliable sources, preferably from the company if it exists or antique automobile clubs that we are members of. Same goes for the Auburn. Even the orange and black colour is from a reference sent to us from Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. In fact, after the restoration, my father was invited to Auburn for an honorary membership of the same museum.

    • What are the honours won by the Auburn?

– This car was first showcased in The Statesman Rally in 1998, when it won the Best Maintained and the Best Restored car awards. Since then it has never returned with anything less than two trophies. Car rallies are a greater occasion for us than the Durga Puja.

    • What does the Auburn mean to your family?

– Once a car enters our premises, it becomes a part of our family. We are almost sleepless till a car is restored. I start my day with a glance at my supercars from my balcony. I have a soft spot for the Auburn, nobody else drives it.

    • How would your vintage cars fare on Kolkata roads?

– Kolkata traffic is yet to accept vintage cars. I hardly take out the cars; I can’t see them get grazed or dented.

Shinjini says…
“I have a first love,” Deborshi said before marriage “my grand old ladies,” he chuckled, as he flaunted his collector cars. “Thank God, it’s not a woman I have to compete with.” I too love the cars. My father-in-law has given me an ultimatum to drive them by next year. As of now I navigate during rallies.

AUBURN TOURER 1926

This Auburn is a four-seater convertible with a big six engine. It is the only one in Asia. Even the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum showcases the salon but not the convertible.
A unique feature is the car fabric, which is a denim-like material called Mohair. It was preferred over conventional leather due to its insulation properties that kept passengers warm in the winters.
Other special features:
Glass-fitted windows that can be rolled up
A picnic box-cum-tool kit as the boot
Tail lights with Buicelite (brand name) etched on it
Number plate that reads BLB 1818, of undivided Bengal

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