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Ressurection of a 1903 Renault

Here is a great story of a KVCCC member car restoration. This story is about the amazing guts shown by the owner to get into this project and the tenacity of the restorer to take up the project. This car significantly lifted the profile of the KVCCC member cars, beyond Bangalore.

In 1991-92, Mr. Papanna a successful business man had been bitten by the vintage car bug having witnessed the resurrection of his 1947 Riley car by Mr. Sripathi, which incidentally won an award in a KVCCC event for restoration. Knowing Mr. Sripathi's knowledge of cars and expertise he placed his confidence in his judgement and mandated him to find more rare cars. They were able to buy the 1934 Ex-Kolhapur Sunbeam.

Mr. Papanna expressed his desire to own a Veteran car. Hence when Mr. Sripathi went to Delhi to buy the 1937 Buick 8 of Purnea (now at the Manjusha Museum), he started to make enquiries for any artillery wheeled vehicle. One of their acquaintances informed them that there was a very old car in Bikaner, a 1903 Renault in dismantled condition and the owner was willing to sell if he got the right price. The owner of this car was a manganese mine owner at Bikaner. So from Delhi Mr. Sripathi went to Bikaner saw the car in completely dismantled condition. It was believed to have been dismantled more than 50 year before.

The car was orginally owned by the Maharaja of Bikaner, HRH Ganga Singhji. It was believed that he gifted this car to one of his ministers in the late 1920's after he acquired a period car. We do not know how the car came to the mine owner. Anyways, after he made his offer he returned to Bangalore as they could not settle on an acceptable price. However he left his correspondence address in case the owner changed his mind.

In early Jan 1992 they got a telegram from the owner that he was agreeable for the quoted price if they come and take the car before a certain date in Jan. Mr. Sripathi immediately left for Bikaner from Bangalore and acquired the car.

Since the car was in a completely dismantled condition, it was decided to hire a vehicle in Bikaner and drive through to Bangalore. Hence they hired a Willy's Wagoner and filled its rear with all the loose parts, engine, radiator and wheels! The chassis and bonnet were loaded on the roof!

Engine. Note the corroded aluminium shell. This was fixed, after the moulds were made of wood and a new aluminium shell was cast.

The completed engine

Sripathi exploring the gear box

The body style they decided to adopt was the Double Phaeton Body. To get the proportions right, the same made was made in paper and the measurement taken to finish in wood.

Paper to wood

One gets an idea on the shape of the car

The restored car

The proud owner Mr. M S Papanna (now late) and the restorer Mr. N Sripathi pose proudly with the car.

This restoration was very important as it significantly lifted the profile of KVCCC member cars. Other members understood that cars can be resuscitated. Papanna had some great cars in his stable including Sunbeam, Buick, Riley, Skoda and this wonder Renault with Bouton engine. Most of these cars are now at the Manjusha Museum and Riley is in Chennai. The Sunbeam went on the win awards when KVCCC members participated in a rally in Hyderabad.

The 1903 Renault now takes pride of place at the The Manjusha Museum, Dharmasthala

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