Yohan Poonawalla’s exquisite vintage car collection: The highlights Yohan Poonawalla wins ‘Collector of the Year’ at the Geneva Motor Show in Doha. We look through his magnificent Rolls-Royce and bespoke limo collection.

Industrialist Yohan Poonawalla has been awarded the title of ‘Collector of the year’ at the inaugural Geneva International Motor Show in Qatar. Held at the same time as the Formula 1 race, the show had both new as well as classic cars on display.

Commenting on being selected as ‘Collector of the Year’, Poonawalla said, “I felt honoured to be recognised, and especially appreciated the attention the Indian historic cars drew.”

1927 Rolls-Royce 20 HP Tourer: This Barker-bodied Rolls-Royce 20 HP belonged to the Nawab of Sachin. It has three spare wheels specially designed for Indian conditions.

Of the magnificent seven that Yohan took to Doha, the 1927 Rolls-Royce 20HP Tourer stands out. Displayed in period-correct livery, along with an interesting collection of photographs from when the car was new, the Barker-bodied car belonged to the Nawab of Sachin. It uniquely has three spare wheels specially included for Indian conditions.

Also ex-Indian royalty, the ’49 Silver Wraith Drophead Foursome Coupe by James Young. This car was delivered to the Maharaja of Mysore in 1949, but was later acquired by the Maharaja of Bharatpur. The car was used by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh when he visited India in 1959.

1962 Rolls-Royce Phantom V: This seven-passenger limo by James Young was a star at the 1962 Geneva Show and belonged to the Ruler of Qatar, HH Sheikh Ahmad Bin Ali Al Thani.

Up next, the 1949 Bentley Mark VI 4-light Touring Saloon by Hooper and Co. Built for the Maharaja of Mysore, this famous Mark VI Bentley is known as the ‘Rhubarb & Custard car’ for its delicious colour scheme. Bought in Mumbai around 15 years ago, this car was restored to its former glory using details from factory build-sheets. It has won the Duke of Marlborough Award at Salon Prive in 2021 and the prestigious Rob Emberson trophy for its ‘Best in Class’ at the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club Concours d’Elegance in 2022.

Another of the stars of the show was the 1964 Lincoln Continental 4-door Convertible ‘Popemobile’. Imported for the use of Pope Paul VI in 1964, the car (incidentally similar to the ’61 that JFK was assassinated in) was later gifted to Mother Teresa. Poonawalla says he uses this car often at night with the top down. “It’s a practical, easy-to-use car with lots of creature comforts, so I tend to take it out a lot at night.”

1949 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith DH Foursome Coupe: Bought by the Maharaja of Mysore, it was used for HRH Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip’s visit to India in 1959.

Looking back, Poonawalla, also the first Indian to be included in the list of top 100 classic car collectors, seemed very pleased. “It was a memorable night, especially witnessing the world’s press and media appreciating my cars.” The event will return every alternate year to Doha.