The 1928 belonging to the royal Family of cossimbazar, is not just a vintage car but only one of its kind in world. A fine example of the American expertise in automobile Engineering, the car also boasts of an American history. This car was top of the line, as evident from the Term ‘President’ and sent to India For promotional purpose. Later, it was bought by Raja Kamalranjan Roy after procuring special approval from the dealer of the Studebaker Corporation in 1928
The 1928 Studebaker is a custom-made car with eight cylinders, considered to be quite luxurious at its time. Owning a 1928 President 8 State Limousine from Studebaker was quite a thing during the Raj era. The interiors of the car is also custom-made according to royal taste. There is a glass partition between the driver’s seat and passengers at the back because it was meant to be a chauffeur driven limousine. If you think that car phones are comparatively a newer technology, then you would be surprised to know that the car has an ‘auto phone’- an electrically operated one-way communication system of that time. In addition to that it has window shades made of silk, bud flower vases of Belgium glass, a vanity case and a smoking set. The foot rest is fitted with Wilton weave carpets, considered to be quite expensive. In the passenger compartment, the car was fitted with lamps and fans that were vacuum operated on both sides. The door panels have American walnut finish and hand painted with silver engraved medallions on both the doors. There is a clock fitted in the passenger’s cabin as well. The car also came with foot warmers made by Lehman’s Heater The driver’s cabin, on the other hand, has a map reading light on the dash board and a cigar lighter. The entire compartment has been upholstered in genuine leather. The interesting thing about this car is its horn- a brass ball horn that was made by CICCA Marque Deposee Paris was used along with the Sparton Chime Horn, that drew more people than it dispelled. The mascot or the hood ornament has the Greek goddess Atalanta. The mascot featuring Atalanta was used by Studebaker between 1926-1930. Hence, this car of 1928, has the mascot featuring Atalanta as well, leaping towards the sky.
The car had cost $2450 at the time it was purchased. In India it was priced at Rs 12000 in 1928. This
opulent car was used by the Raja of Cossimbazar only during ceremonial occasions.“Three generations of our family have got married in this car for their wedding” said, Mr Pallab Roy, the current heir of the royal family, an entrepreneur on his own right and a connoisseur of vintage cars.
The car was restored recently. It took Pallab Roy almost four years to complete the restoration work. The photograph in the sales brochure was used as a reference point. It took many visits to USA and to different auctions and also some luck to restore the original look of the car. The vanity case and the smoking set that had gone missing, were restored. The sales brochure had gone missing too, a replacement copy was received and the restoration work was done using, the coloured photograph of the car in the brochure as a reference. Without the brochure it would have been very difficult to restore the car back to its original shape, since no other photograph of the Studebaker President 8 State Limousine (FA) was available. The paint and even the interiors were done according to the brochure. The ‘Stadium’ branded shoes scrapers with aluminium cast on the running board had been damaged. They were recast in aluminium. To keep it as close to the original as possible, efforts were made to retain the brand name ‘Stadium’ as it was in the original. The wooden running boards were also re-made. A damaged emblem of the digit ‘8’ placed between the headlights was restored. The car also had a robe rail that had gone missing but this too was replaced during the restoration.
This car was recognized as a full classic by all Antiques Automobile Clubs in the United States. “I would like to retain this car in our family” said Mr Roy, who takes the car out for a drive twice a week despite the difficulties in finding a parking spot and the huge crowd that gathers around the car. He confided: “I actually take it out very early in the morning to the club.” The car, a legacy of the past, is truly majestic and its beauty is beyond praise. The plush interiors with arm rests, the silk window shades, the bud flower vases are all testimony of a time when luxurious was spelled with a capital ‘L’.