Passions. They are those incredibly volatile whims of the mind that take the form of a mere ‘phase’, sometimes blossoming into hobbies one escapes into, and more rarely into a full-blown profession. Many in the world of automotive have found their passions confined to wishlists and endless scrolling on the entrancing spec sheets of their dream automobiles. But some, like Gautam Hari Singhania, truly define the ‘motive’ in automotive. Industrialist, icon, and a puritan motorhead, Singhania is known for his undiluted passion for cars, especially supers and vintages, and on other occasions, he heads the prestigious Raymond Group — the world’s largest producer of suiting fabric.
With an entire fold of incredible supercars and vintages in his opulent fleet, Singhania has been the pinnacle of achievement for any child who’s spent his younger days flipping through the pages of an auto magazine, wide-eyed and dazed. Born into the world of industry and textiles, he has gone on to develop a net worth of nearly $1.4 billion, constructed among the world’s tallest private buildings, used to own a private jet, and has tastefully christened his magnificent yacht.
Also read: Pratik Gandhi: Banking on a bull run
From pure passion to unmatched professionalism
Gautam’s love for exclusive automobiles led him to set up the Super Car Club Garage or SCCG in Thane, Maharashtra. The motivation to create this ambitious project was simple — there is a massive demand for supercar and antique restoration and repairs, but the choices are few and clumsy. Independent garages aren’t trustworthy to look at, let alone leaving your car behind. They’re unhygienic, the staff isn’t always thoroughly trained, and the experience lacks the professional touch that SCCG aims to offer. “We have lots of customers who come and say that you have done a better job than the manufacturers,” says Singhania. The business started with work being focussed on regular cars and soon extended to supercars and the restoration of vintage cars. With Singhania as the face of the brand, owners naturally build more trust towards the garage’s understanding of all things automobile.
The garage spans 35,000 square feet with in-house expertise and equipment to restore and modify special cars as well as a racetrack facility to test the work done. It promises the fastest vintage car restoration and complete peace of mind to owners, with 24x7 security and CCTV surveillance.
SCCG recently flexed its restomods and hotrods prowess by introducing a superbike division, something that’s even rarer to easily find, for owners. The easy availability of parts and after-sales service gives customers what they expect from smaller garages. The access to resources and expertise leads to the restoration work done faster and more reasonably by the SCCG team.
Car restoration needn’t bleed you dry
The usual pillar-to-post rigmarole is something supercar and vintage car owners want to avoid. Especially in the case of the latter, there seems to be more discernment while taking such decisions because their automobiles are worth a resource that even the richest couldn’t control – time. Singhania always imagined his own garage to be more than just a workshop. “It is a lifestyle place,” he says. “You can come here, enjoy a cup of coffee, beckon the workshop guys and discuss what you want to do or you can just pick your mug of coffee from the cafe and walk around the workshop to see the work that is going on with various cars.”
The idea of a supercar and vintage car restoration studio being a lounge is exciting in itself. Visitors and owners enjoy complete transparency of the process, where they can witness what’s going on with their vehicles and other vehicles that are under the team’s care.
SCCG also brags about its nine-car lifts and India’s largest car paint shop, an exclusive upholstery shop, bespoke Turner machines, a carpentry setup, and its own Chrome facility that aspires to one day become the best in the world.
Singhania has made it clear that he doesn’t want to be associated with any single brand, but the entire category. And he’s come a long way, from a fascinated child of 4 to one of India’s most notable names when it comes to supercar collections.
Drifting in the backyard
One exciting aspect of SCCG is the space at the back of the setup that serves as a drifting track. Singhania himself has expressed and often demonstrated his adeptness and love for drifting. He agrees that it is more than just about pulling the handbrake. With enough practice, it can become as easy as driving a car on the road. “Drifting is all about burning the spot,” he says.
However, his favourite proving grounds or circuits to race his cars include Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Stavelot, Belgium and the Budh Intercontinental Circuit in Noida. Both are stellar venues with fine straights and bends.
Also read: Krishna Jackie Shroff: This girl is on fire
A collection of kings
Spotting Gautam Hari Singhania at any high-profile event, stepping out of a Ferrari is not news anymore. His name has been synonymic with these grand arrivals. As a true puritan, he often chooses to drive his cars himself. “Among my oldest cars is a 1902 Oldsmobile and among the newest is the latest Ferrari. I have everything in between vintage cars to supercars, from hotrods to retro mods, from modified cars to race cars. From 2 horsepower, all the way up to 1700 horsepower.” When asked about which one was the 1700 horsepower machine he simply says, “It’s a Gallardo”.
The love of car-collectors for their wheels is a thing of legend. However, Singhania hasn’t named his cars, like he did his yachts. When we prodded him to let us in on which is that one car he would love to have in his garage that isn’t there yet, he said, “Maybe at some point in time, I will look at the Ferrari SF 90, But I am not yet convinced about it. I want to know what it feels like.”
Customisation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It could be cosmetic, performance, or comfort, Singhania believes, “Customisation is a very large word. A lot of people do a performance upgrade that improves driving. The performance upgrade can range from 1 to 10. But a lot of people also make aesthetic upgrades like special paint jobs to make the car look nice. It’s often about aesthetic modification. For example, if you put carbon fibre inside, the look feels great. The touch of a good carbon fibre steering wheel tends to feel great. If you add (external) body parts, it makes the car look more aggressive. If you put a body kit in an M3, the car looks completely different. In the end, it is eventually about looks.” Singhania chooses to stay clear from the business of racing, however, he is passionate about it. He found success in the Ferrari Challenge Europe Series in 2015.
Also read: Sunil Grover: Never a day without laughter
Is the future electric?
It is common knowledge that we are already at the gates of an electric future. However, Gautam Hari Singhania would prefer to choose a petrol car over an electric one, always. When asked about why the deterrence to electric cars he says, “I have a lot of reservations on battery technology. Firstly, the batteries are very, very heavy. Secondly, their life is not that great. Batteries are continuously failing, and the replacement cost is phenomenal.”
He also points out that the number of hybrid cars is on the rise. His views extend to electric supercars, “All the batteries, whether it’s of a 918, or a LAFerrari, or even the new SF 90, are continuously a problem and bear a high weight and high cost. Electric cars are good for green energy, but they don’t have a soul in them.”
Singhania would rather prefer being driven around in the silent rear seats of a chauffeur-driven electric car, rather than drive one himself. When it comes to driving, it's always petrol. So pure is his love for the purest driving pleasure.
Supercars and vintage cars
With a collection of incredible cars to his name, ranging from the 1902 Oldsmobile to the latest Ferrari, his garage is brimming with some of the finest wheels created through the decades. Also in his collection is a private jet and a couple of helicopters under the aviation division of the Raymond group
To burn rubber
Gautam Hari Singhania has made it clear that he isn’t one to showcase any business interest in the world of racing. But that isn’t to say that he doesn’t love racing. He absolutely loves the track. His favourite circuits include the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Stavelot, Belguim and the Budh Intercontinental Circuit in Noida. He does possess quite the penchant and skill for drifting as well, and what better track than the testing ground of his very own supercar and vintage restoration garage in Thane?
Next in his garage?
He always has his sights fixed on the next best car out there and the Ferrari SF 90 is under his radar. This powerfully sporty 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine beast will fit perfectly well into his growing legion of supercars.
A treat for supercar owners
The Super Car Club Garage is a work of labour and love by Gautam Hari Singhania. It isn’t what you may have now come to expect from a bustling city garage for luxury vehicles, but one that enjoys the art of restoration and customisation. This is reflected in the way the garage is designed, with unique break-out areas and a testing ground like never before.
The state-of-the-art facility is set up in Thane, Maharashtra, and spans an incredible 45,000 square feet. It is equipped with the finest cutting-edge technology and innovative tools that enable the highly-skilled staff to work their magic. The Super Car Club Garage prides itself for being one of the fastest places to restore vintage cars to their erstwhile condition.
Mingle with other petrolheads
The garage can easily be mistaken for a café, because of the way it is designed. There are areas where you could settle down with a mug of coffee and an expert from the workshop to learn more about how they’re going to deliver just what you expect. At the back of the facility, you will find an exclusive racetrack and testing ground. After conquering the world of supercars and vintage restorations, the Super Car Club Garage has now extended its services to superbikes to cater to the growing number of superbike owners.