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Indian Collector’s Rolls-Royce 17EX Makes Unprecedented Win at Valletta Concours

In a landmark achievement for India, billionaire industrialist and philanthropist Yohan Poonawalla’s Rolls-Royce 17EX has become the first car owned by an Indian to secure a Best in Show award on foreign soil. The prestigious accolade was awarded earlier this month at the Valletta Concours held in the scenic European city of Valletta, Malta. Competing against a myriad of impressive vehicles across various classes, Poonawalla’s 1928 Rolls-Royce Experimental Sports Phantom, 17EX, emerged victorious, capturing the admiration of judges and spectators alike. Unique in its lineage, this 17EX is the only known model with coachwork by Jarvis of Wimbledon.

Recently acquired and swiftly refurbished in Austria, the vintage car made an immediate impression in its competition debut. Considered one of the greatest coachbuilt cars and among the most historically significant Rolls-Royces in existence today, 17EX embodies a rich narrative steeped in history. Its design is distinctive, character unmatched, and provenance unparalleled. Originally conceived and developed under the keen supervision of Sir Henry Royce, 17EX served as a prototype aimed at challenging Bentley’s dominance at Le Mans. The objective was to develop a sports car capable of reaching a top speed of 100 MPH, a lofty goal at the time.

Expressing his elation at the monumental victory, Yohan Poonawalla stated, “I am thrilled to see 17EX win the top prize in its first outing with me, and the win is even sweeter coming in this milestone anniversary year as Rolls-Royce celebrates 120 years. The extraordinary car embodies the company’s quest for excellence and innovation to remain at the forefront. I want to congratulate all entrants and thank the organisers, and the Maltese crowd who were warm and hospitable.”

John Saliba, chairman of the Valletta Concours, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the uniqueness and historical significance of the car.

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. “We feel privileged to have hosted a truly historic car like Rolls-Royce 17EX. It proved to be the star car of the show, and therefore a worthy winner. Valletta Concours is an inclusive event; we welcome cars of all ages, shapes, and sizes for an annual celebration of our love for classic automobiles.”

Poonawalla’s 1928 Phantom 1 now joins an illustrious roster of remarkable Phantoms in the Yohan Poonawalla Collection. This includes the 1933 Phantom II, originally owned by Sir Malcolm Campbell, the 1937 Phantom III of the Maharaja of Panchkote, the 1962 Phantom V that belonged to the Emir of Qatar, the 1979 Phantom VI previously owned by HM Queen Elizabeth II, and the 2005 Goodwood Phantom VII, notable as the first car delivered in India following Rolls-Royce’s 50-year hiatus in the country.

Based in Pune, India, the Yohan Poonawalla Collection is renowned for its eclectic mix of pre-war, post-war, and modern classics. The collection is curated with a meticulous focus on provenance and pedigree, ensuring each vehicle’s historical significance and condition are preserved. Alongside these gems, the collection also boasts an assortment of high-performance supercars, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis, adding a contemporary flair to the historic lineup.

Yohan Poonawalla’s passion and dedication to the world of classic cars have earned him global recognition. In 2023, he became the first Indian to be featured in the global ranking of ‘Top 100 Classic Car Collectors of the World,’ published by The Classic Car Trust. Adding to his accolades, he was also the recipient of several prestigious awards including ‘Classic Car Ambassador of the Year’ at the Historic Motoring Awards presented by Octane in the UK, and ‘Collector of the Year’ by the Geneva International Motor Show Qatar.

The success of Yohan Poonawalla and his Rolls-Royce 17EX at the Valletta Concours highlights not only his personal achievements but also brings international recognition to India’s growing presence in the world of classic car collecting. The win signifies a new era for Indian collectors on the global stage, setting a precedent for future participation and success in prestigious automotive events around the world.