Thiruvananthapuram: This could make any car enthusiast turn green with envy. It has so far covered 23 lakh miles - or 3,701,491.2 km - and could still go strong.
The 1955-model Mercedes-Benz 180 T takes the pride of place in the garage of late Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the former Maharaja of the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore.
The vintage Merc will soon end up in the collection of LuLu Group's managing director M A Yusuffali.
The Karnataka-registered car bearing the registration plate “CAN 42” is now parked at the sprawling Kowdiar Palace. The royals have decided to gift the vehicle, which Uthradom Thirunal had used in Bangalore (now Bengaluru), to his close friend Yousuffali.
The car was bought for Rs 12,000 in the 1950s. According to palace estimates, Uthradom Thirunal had travelled 40 lakh kilometres - as driver and as passenger - since the age of 38. Of the total distance travelled, 24 miles was in “CAN 42.”
The car proudly displays a medal presented by Mercedes-Benz, certifying the distance it had covered. Uthradom Thirunal had even driven the car, at the age of 85.
Several prominent personalities had approached him offering handsome prices for the car. Benz too approached him with an offer: two brand new cars in exchange for the workhorse, which epitomised the company's slogan, "Das Beste oder Nichts (The best or nothing)," or as fans would call it, "Built like a tank."
The lucrative offers - from the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer to others - did not move Uthradom Thirunal, who had an impressive collection of antique watches, cars and even a Rolleiflex camera purchased in 1936, three years before the the maker, Franke & Heidecke, introduced the 'new standard' camera in 1939. He kept the car, which he called "mile a minute" - referring to the speeds it could touch - with himself.
Uthradom Thirunals' decision was to hand over the car to Yousuffali. During a visit to Yusuffali's Dubai residence, Uthradom Thirunal invited him to his palace. Accepting the invitation, Yusuffali visited Pattom Palace, and Uthradom Thirunal informed him of his desire to gift the car.
After Uthradom Thirunal's death in December 2013, the car has been under the care of his son Padmanabha Varma and Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma Foundation. The royals and the foundation have decided to gift the car to Yusuffali as per the wish of the former king.