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Regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 July 2024

The Great Escape car story

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Great Escape car, the 1937 Wanderer, was taken apart - on slides - and its restoration story told at the Calcutta Club on Saturday.

TT Bureau Published 06.12.17, 12:00 AM
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's Great Escape car, the 1937 Wanderer, was taken apart - on slides - and its restoration story told at the Calcutta Club on Saturday. Restorer Pallab Ray (right in picture by Sanat Kr Sinha) gave an audiovisual presentation on how he was picked to restore the vintage car that was part of "such a thrilling history". In fact, the Bose family had two cars - a Studebaker President and the Wanderer. Apparently, Netaji wanted to escape in the Studebaker. But the Wanderer was chosen as everyone thought people would easily recognise the Studebaker. Netaji's nephew Sisir Bose ran an endurance test with the Wanderer till Burdwan. On the night of the Escape, the Wanderer made a noisy start as it moved out of the Elgin Road house, turned right and then again right to get on to Allenby Road. Netaji held on to his door tightly without closing it so that anyone who was awake would hear only one door being shut. He shut the door after the car had crossed Allenby Road. On the 75th anniversary of the Great Escape, the restored Wanderer (top in picture by Pradip Sanyal) was unveiled by then President Pranab Mukherjee. The car had been on display at the Netaji Research Bureau (NRB) since 1970. The NRB director appointed Audi Calcutta for its restoration. As Wanderer was built by Auto Union, which Audi bought later, they had been contracted to do the job. The Audi Calcutta CEO zeroed in on Ray who had restored his family's Studebaker President. Ray said he found the car in a shambles. He was asked to do just a visual restoration, but he decided to make it run again. And he did that with the help of his team. From overhauling the engine to working on the transmission and unique Wanderer suspensions, rebuilding the dashboard and stitching the upholstery, Ray restored the vehicle completely. Reporting by Anasuya Basu
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