When Betty came home...

When Betty came home...

As a school-going boy, he saw the Mysuru Maharani’s Daimler pick his grandmother up from his house. Fascinated by the Daimler, the young boy came running out and sat on the compound wall staring at this royal beauty.

He had made up his mind. He was firm on owning this royal machine one day. Now a retired businessman, Ramanna is the enthusiastic owner of a 1951 Daimler Consort, which he has named — Betty.

“It is a Daimler passion rather than a vintage passion,” says Ramanna proudly. Recalling his school days, he says, “When I used to sit on the wall watching the Daimler, the driver of the car came up to me one day and said, ‘Boy...you will become a driver like me if you sit here and watch. Go inside and study,’ and these words thrilled me and I decided that I will own a Daimler one day, instead of sitting in my grandfather’s Austin 7.”

The original Daimler company closed down but Ramanna’s dream was still alive. Years passed, and one day, in 1998, his brother rang up saying, “There is a Daimler for sale, are you interested?” Without wasting a second, Ramanna said yes and there was his dream. “The car was in pieces. There was no wiring, no headlights. But she was a Daimler,” he says. She lay in their house in pieces for four years and the mission of fixing her began after Ramanna’s retirement.

 “There were hardly any mechanics who were ready to come and she would not go out of this house. Finally, I got my father’s mechanic, Murthy. He was old and we used to work from morning to noon and take a break,” he explains.

The slow process kickstarted again when Ramanna’s daughter went to London Business School. “I did not know the technicalities of the car. As my daughter was in London, I could get in touch with ‘Daimler and Lanchester Club’ and many other Daimler owners,”  he informs.

He wrote about his Daimler dream in the Club’s journal and it is then that he met a British guy who owned three Daimlers. He let Ramanna rip the parts of one of his spare Daimlers and Ramanna says, “He asked me to take all the parts I needed and I sat for four hours removing just four bolts! The British guy then came with a hammer and ripped all the parts and gave it to me,” he reminisces.

The parts were transported to India and he recalls, “My wife Mridula safely trolleyed the parts and no one questioned her at the customs.”

Ramanna’s Betty has undergone various stages of restoration and each part of hers has a story to tell. While Betty’s upholstery was done by a local sofa repairer riding a bicycle, her wiring was done by a mechanic who was a Dubai return.

 “I had to pick up this Dubai returned mechanic in my Mercedes car. But later he did not finish the work and I completed it referring to the book given to me by the Daimler Club,” he says. The book was given to him as an appreciation for his passion by one of the British guys.

His strong passion for Daimler has also taken him to Gujarat as he says, “One of the Daimler club members wrote to me to get the measurements of Maharaja’s Daimler in Gujarat, as he had the same model. I went till Gujarat and took the measurements and sent it to Britain. I did this, also because, I would get a ride in my dream car,” he explains.

Betty has rewarded Ramanna with a lot of new friends in the City and abroad. She has also let them be part of many vintage rallies including the ones in London.

Betty is taken out on Saturdays and Sundays on Sankey Tank Road or Cubbon Park. “We have three cars. One is Betty. The Mercedes we have is Veronica and the Esteem is Lucy. Veronica comes out for clubs and dinners and Lucy for all the regular work,” he says lovingly.

“Our children are abroad and now these three are our daughters,” the couple say. Ramanna adds that it has been a great journey with the Daimler and concludes, “Daimler was a dream and now it has become a reality after Betty came home.”   

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