As an Indian, I had heard of Vijay Mallya long before he hit the Formula 1 spotlight as the owner of the Force India F1 team. A true captain of Indian industry, his other hats include accomplished businessman (chairman of United Breweries group and Kingfisher airlines), former politician and enthusiastic sports fan (owns the Bangalore Royal Challengers cricket team, the East Bengal football team and the URB Breeders). While I always knew that he was fond of cars, I did not know that he was in fact a serious car collector and his Mallya Collection includes nearly 300 vehicles spread through 4 locations around the world. SFF1 recently organized a tour of his Sausalito warehouse that contains about 30 vehicles and I jumped at the chance to join the tour. I also have to thank the curator, Malcolm Page, who gave us access to this fantastic collection and was at hand to answer all our questions.
The first thing that struck me about the collection was just how many cars are crammed into such a small space (larger panoramic shot). The cars are so tightly packed in that it was actually quite difficult to get photographs that show the whole car. Every time you try to step back you would find your way blocked by another piece of classic motoring history :-). Unlike most other museums there are no glass screens or velvet ropes, the cars are essentially just parked on the garage floor and you can walk all around the cars and look at them from any angle you wish. In fact you were even allowed to open up the cars and sit in them if you wished. The picture below is the drivers eye view of the dash of a Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing.
The other striking thing is that many of the cars are in unrestored condition and have license plates which allow them to be street driven (imagine this Le-Mans veteran D-Type Jaguar as a street car :)). These cars are actually driven around and are not the usual “concourse quality frame-off restoration” cars you usually see at Pebble Beach.
The collection is a very eclectic mix and goes all the way from bicycles to some very pedigreed racecars including an OSCA Tipo S driven by the Rodriguez brothers at LeMans and an Ensign F1 car driven by Patrick Tombay, Jackie Ickx, Nelson Piquet (his first F1 drive) and Derick Daly before being campaigned by Mallya himself in the 1980-81 races at Sholavaram. One highlight is the 1913 Silver Ghost that the Rolls Royce Owners club describes as “the most original mechanically correct veteran ghost we know of”. The following picture shows the engine controls on the steering wheel from the days where the driver served as the cars “ECU” and had to manually adjust things like the fuel mixture and the timing.
Apart from cars, the collection also houses some very nice memorabilia with paintings, a land speed record timeline, a DFV engine block coffee table, model cars etc… My favourite piece would have to be the letter below in which the FIA grants the Force India team its official F1 Super-License for 2008.
As you would expect I did take a lot of pictures and captured most of the cars. The collection is so incredible that I actually forgot to photograph some pretty significant cars like the Jaguar XJ220, Ferrari 365 Spyder and Jaguar E-type.
Click here to view all the pictures as a single collection. You can also use the following links to directly view pictures of a specific car (opens in a new window):
- 1913 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
- 1947 Schwinn Black Phantom
- 1949 Auto Shippers Special (Indy roadster)
- 1953 Alfa Romeo 2500S (Bucci Special)
- 1954 Jaguar D Type (short nose)
- 1955 Allard JR
- 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing
- 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
- 1959 OSCA Tipo S
- 1960 Mercedes Benz 300 SL Roadster
- 1965 Shelby Cobra 427
- 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4
- 1969 McLaren M10A/B
- 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS Spyder
- 1973 March 73A
- 1974 All American Racing F5000
- 1977 Ensign F1
- 1980 BMW M1
- 1990 Jaguarsport XJR 15
While the current location of the Mallay Collection is a temporary warehouse, they are looking to build an official museum in the city of Sausalito. Please join their Facebook Group to show your support and convince Sausalito to give them the appropriate permissions.
P.S.: I did ask about Lotus content in the collection and was told that as of now it is limited to a Seven and a Europa, both of which are in India. They may in future add an F1 car to go with the F1 exhibit he is building in the UK.