Everyone looks on with amazement when his 1971 DS21 Pallas is out on the streets of
Hyderabad, in the State of Andhra Pradesh, central India. But Janardhana just smiles and
says "no one here can understand the real value of this car". At least he knows: for he put
his heart into it, and restored it entirely by himself, close to its original condition.
A family business
To start with, Yalamanchili Janardhana
Rao, in his 70s now, is not exactly the
owner of the car: it belongs to one of his
four sons, Y. S. Chowdary, a mechanical
engineer like him, and like most men in this
big family. But the ownership question is
quickly brushed aside: it is the family as a
whole who collects vintage cars, and it just
happened that it was that particular son
that found that particular car back in 1991,
in Chennai (formerly Madras, state of Tamil
Nadu, on the Coromandel Coast in
south-east India). Vanku, the old garage
owner, gave it saying "I know your father,
only he can make something out of it".
The car could barely be driven; it took two
full days and a wide array of problems to
cover the 500 km to Hyderabad: spheres
broken, tires exploded, bonnet not locked
properly and opening suddenly...
Janardhana has had a long career in
engineering, and nurtures a passion for
classic cars. As of today, the family has
gathered "about" fifty of them, mostly from
the '40s and '50s, resting peacefully in one
of their stockyards. Janardhana warned me
not to be deceived by the dust: all of them
have a perfectly sound engine and can be
started rightaway. All of them ? I enquire.
May I try one ? Of course, he replies. And
the car's engine starts like a brand new
Toyota. I try another one; same result.
The A to Z of vintage car
restoration on a desert island
The family actually employs full-time a
small teams of mechanics to take care of
their cars (now, that's a good idea, I should
do that someday too). Janardhana
introduces me to the two men especially in
charge of the DS; he says they can entirely
disassemble and re-assemble it over 48
hours without the help of a single sheet of
instructions. After the engine-starting test,
I am ready to believe him.
It took only two years to restore the DS.
Janardhana has had to find out by himself
everything about the car. He has gathered
over the years an impressive collection of
original owners' or repair shops' manuals in
English, and has enjoyed the support of
several fans overseas, some of them
becoming life-time friends in the process.
He has had to build himself some tooling,
and some parts too. He has managed to
import some other parts through a
The rear lights covers
do not look original ?
Of course they're not.
using bits of plastic
and a picture from a
book as a reference...
Janardhana shows the
apparatus he built himself in
order to fill the spheres.
The two mechanics in charge of the DS.
The engine is very close to its original condition. But
the water tank on top is hand-made, and a 2nd fan
has been added behind the radiator.
A unique car
The car itself is a 1971 DS21 Pallas ie
(eletronic injection). Nothing is known
about is history, when it was brought into
India, by whom and why etc. As it is a
left-hand model, not suited to a country
where one drives on the left, it may have
been imported by an expatriate.
Janardhana does not know any other DS
in India, and it is by no means a small
country... Only once, another DS has been
spotted in Hyderabad, by one of his
grandsons. Sometimes people call to
enquire about his car, which has featured
in a couple of local movies, and which has
also won the 1st prize in a local vintage car
Janardhana wants to bring his car as close
as possible to its original condition. His
face quickly became very serious when I
pointed to the small metallic plate inside
the engine room, showing the original body
paint colour: AC095, i.e. gris nacre
(litterally, mother-of-pearl grey). I bet the
car will bear that beautiful mother-of-pearl
grey before the end of the year, and
Janardhana will be fully entitled to be even
prouder of his beautiful, close-to-perfection
Page creation 02/07/2006, revision 05/07/2015
Janardhana (right) and two of his sons
Top: Y. S. Chowdary at the wheel; below: the car
All rights reserved DSinAsia 2006-2016, except otherwise indicated
Update ! (July 2015) I have finally found the 1991 local movie in which this
DS makes a guest-star appearance. More about it