Yohan Poonawalla: A Passion For Classic Cars Fit for Royalty

It’s not every day that you meet someone with an awe-inspiring collection of classic cars, each with its own unique story and charm. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Yohan Poonawalla from India, a true connoisseur of classic and vintage automobiles, to hear the remarkable tale of his lifelong passion.

Yohan Poonawalla: A Passion For Classic Cars Fit for Royalty

A Royal Affection for Cars

Yohan Poonawalla’s journey into the world of classic cars is as regal as it gets. He inherited his love for cars from his family, where fascination with automobiles was ingrained from a young age. His family proudly passed down two cherished family cars – a 1931 Chevrolet and a 1964 Mercedes Benz 220 S. I can relate to this as I recall my first drive ever was proudly my dad’s Chevy.

In much the same way as my own, Yohan’s passion for classic cars didn’t stop there. With sheer determination and an unquenchable thirst for automotive history, he embarked on a journey of his own. Over the years, he painstakingly built a collection of classic automobiles that could make any enthusiast’s heart skip a beat.

Mr. Yohan Poonawalla at Salon Prive UK

A Remarkable Collection

Yohan’s collection is nothing short of spectacular, boasting as it does 23 Rolls Royces and a lineup of 8 Bentleys. But what truly sets his collection apart is the fascinating mix of old and modern cars, each with its own story to tell.

When asked about his selection process, Yohan shared his penchant for cars with special history and provenance. His collection includes many Maharaja cars, the kind that once graced the courts of royalty. Take, for instance, his majestic 1962 Phantom V Limousine, which participated in the iconic Mille Miglia, having once belonged to the Emir of Qatar.

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Mr. Yohan Poonawalla on the Formula One Yas Marina track UAE

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Notably, Yohan brought the ‘Popemobile’ a 1964 Lincoln Continental Convertible to the Mille Miglia in Dubai last year, showcasing his collection’s diversity and historical significance.

Impressive 2023 Achievements

2023 was a trailblazer of a year for Poonawalla, starting the year with being the first & only Indian to be inducted in the top 100 car collectors in the world by the Classic Car Trust (TCCT), followed by being declared as ‘India’s Motoring Ambassador to the World’ by the Vintage & Classic Car Club of India (VCCCI) India’s oldest and foremost car club.

Geneva International Motor Show Qatar (GIMSQ) October 2023 at Doha Qatar.

Later in the same year, his phenomenal 1949 Maharaja of Mysore Silver Wraith Drop Head Coupe by James Young won the ‘Trofeo BMW Group Classic Award’ at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este ‘for the most sensitive restoration by the jury’ across the entire Show.

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Mr. Yohan Poonawalla’s Daughter Ms. Tania Poonawalla with trophy at Villa D’Este Concorso 2023.

In October 2023, he was then declared as ‘Collector of the Year’ at the Geneva International Motor Show in Qatar. In November 2023, he won the prestigious ‘Classic Car Ambassador of the Year’ award at the Historic Motoring Awards by Octane in London, considered as the Oscar’s of the motoring world.

Geneva International Motor Show Qatar GIMSQ October 2023 at Doha Qatar. 2

A Grand Finale for 2023, Mille Miglia

Yohan finished his groundbreaking year by taking part in the 1000 Mille Miglia event in Dubai in December 2023. A regular entrant on the Concours circuit, he has won several Best in Class and Best in Show awards.

His participation is a testament to his love for classic cars and the thrill of experiencing them on the open road. When asked about his thoughts on this

year’s Mille Miglia, he spoke highly of the event, highlighting the camaraderie among fellow enthusiasts and the impressive array of cars.

He marvelled at the eclectic mix of classic cars, including Porsches and Dinos, that graced the event, a true testament to the passion that unites car enthusiasts from around the world. Yohan’s Rolls Royce Phantom, being the only one of its kind in the rally, added a touch of royal splendour to the road, drawing admiration from all who beheld it.

Mr.Yohan Poonawalla R with his son Master. Zayan Poonawalla L at the Mille Miglia Experience UAE 2023 scaled

The Road Ahead

Looking ahead to the future, Yohan expressed his enthusiasm for joining the Mille Miglia once again next year, and he encourages others to do the same. He believes that this event is a fantastic opportunity for people to showcase their special cars and share their passion with fellow enthusiasts.

As for his remarkable collection, Yohan revealed that he is in the process of building a private museum in India, where he plans to display his cherished automobiles. This museum promises to be a haven for classic car enthusiasts, a place where the stories of these timeless vehicles can be shared and celebrated.

Salon Prive UK


Yohan Poonawalla’s journey from inheriting only 2 family cars to amassing a collection fit for royalty is a testament to his unwavering passion for classic automobiles. His presence at the Mille Miglia and his future plans for a private museum demonstrate his commitment to preserving automotive history and sharing it with the world. We look forward to seeing more of Yohan’s exceptional cars at future events and in his upcoming museum, where the legacy of these remarkable automobiles will continue to captivate enthusiasts for generations to come.

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