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Business Standard

Toys of the tycoons

From custom-made luxury sedans to fast and furious supercars, India's billionaires rule the roads

Weekend Team 


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Vijay Mallya: Back in the days when the 'King of Good Times' was a legitimate description for him, Vijay Mallya's luxury toys were a byword in billionaire circles. Though banks have now taken possession of Kingfisher House, Mallya's legendary collection of vintage cars is pretty much intact, with “no noteworthy additions or subtractions”, according to the company spokesperson. While his collection, part of which is maintained as a private museum in the US, includes Ferraris, Porsches, Rolls-Royces and other marquee names, Mallya's regular commute in India is in a Mercedes S500. Mallya also owns the vintage motor yacht, Kalizma, and rents the Indian Empress. He no longer owns any corporate aircraft.

Adi Godrej: During the World Economic Forum in Davos some years ago, Audi was offering test drives to delegates. Among those who were impressed with the luxury sedans was Adi Godrej, chairman of the Godrej Group. “I tried out the Audi and then I heard very good reports about it, so I decided to get (it),” he told Michael Perschke, former Audi India head in an interview published in the German company’s magazine. Godrej owns an A8, known for its full aluminium chassis and understated design.

Mukesh Ambani: The famous crash last year of an Aston Martin Rapide, owned by Reliance Ports, made no dent in Mukesh Ambani’s car collection. The Reliance head is rumoured to have 168 vehicles, including a Maybach 62, which, at Rs. 5.25 crore, is the most expensive of the lot. The ultra-luxury sedan is highly customised with leather trims and is roomy enough to house fully reclining seats. His 27-storey home, Antilla, reportedly has six floors of parking space for these luxurious toys. He also owns several Mercedes cars, including a black SL500 and the popular S Class in white.

Anil Ambani: The younger Ambani owns at least seven super luxury cars from a variety of makers, according to reports. One of them, a Lamborghini Gallardo, made headlines in 2009 after its driver was arrested for rash driving. The Gallardo, which gets its name from a breed of fighting bull, is known to be his favourite. Equipped with a V10 engine, the flashy yellow car can accelerate from 0 to 100 kmph in 4.1 seconds. Like his elder brother, he too owns a Maybach, apart from a Mercedes S Class and a BMW 7 series. Also stationed in his driveway are an Audi Q7, a number of Porsches, a Lexus and a Rolls-Royce.

Kumar Mangalam Birla: The Aditya Birla Group chairman is a BMW person. He reportedly spent between Rs 1 crore and Rs 2 crore to bring home a heavily customized 5 Series Beemer straight from Germany. In 2010, he was granted permission by the government to have a BMW 760 Li bulletproof sedan shipped from Germany. Among his other toys are aircraft, including a Cessna Citation and a Gulf Stream G100.

Gautam Singhania: This dapper industrialist truly believes in living the good life, complete with fast cars, swanky yachts and personal jets. The CMD of Raymond Group has a personal collection of supercars that includes the biggies in the business such as Ferrari, Lotus Elise, Lamborghini Gallardo, Nissan Skyline GTR and Audi Q7. Equally enviable is his selection of other luxury toys -- a Challenger 604 business jet, three helicopters, two luxury yachts and speedboats named after various James Bond films.

Captain Nair: The nonagenarian hotelier possesses a unique assortment of cars, ranging from the luxurious to the basic. The Leela Hotels chairman's cars include three Rolls-Royces (Silver Shadow, Phantom and Ghost) and a Bentley. And yes, a Tata Nano too. Every evening, Nair can be seen going for a drive with his wife, Leela in the 1973 Silver Shadow or the new Phantom.

B K Modi: Hailed as one of the biggest telecom tycoons in the country, Modi has a fleet of cars located across the world. For instance, his gleaming Rolls Royce was flown to Singapore after he gained the country’s citizenship in 2011. The chairman of Spice Global has a penchant for Bentleys, with a yellow one in Mumbai and a Cola Bentley in London.

Bangalore's IT czars may be billionaires but when it comes to their set of wheels, they prefer to be discreet. Considering Wipro Chairman Aziz Premji reportedly prefers to travel in economy class, though, it might not come entirely as a surprise that he is driven around in a Toyota Corolla, according to a source in the company. Infosys' Narayana Murthy, again known to favour a simple lifestyle that even saw him cleaning his own bathroom, uses a Skoda, while 'Kris' Gopalakrishnan switches between a Toyota Altis and a Camry.

First Published: Fri, February 28 2014. 21:14 IST