There are easier ways to get the feel of an Italian Job than joining the Mafioso. As epitomised by Michael Caine in his classic caper flick in 1969, sometimes, it can just be a matter of getting behind the wheel of a Mini Cooper. And the latter might not be as difficult as one might think. Rahul Tuljapurkar, with his luxury car rental service, Red and Blue Car Travels, is bringing the British Motor Corporation’s pint-sized powerhouse, to Indian shores. Hiring the Mini Cooper will cost you anything between Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000.
Tuljapurkar, an out-and-out Bandra boy, started R&B Car Travels last year in June 2011. His inherent passion for cars and gadgets fueled his drive to provide an option for a travel experience within Mumbai which met “international standards.” Within a little over a year he has amassed a fleet that comprises luxury behemoths such as the Mercedes E class, BMW 5 series, Audi A6 and Toyota Etios. The Mini, according to Tuljapurkar, is the most obvious addition for his company. “We saw the need to provide more unusual luxury cars to our clients that went beyond the usual symbols of auto luxury such as the big three — BMW, Audi, and Mercedes,” says Tuljapurkar.
There are also fringe benefits which have been embedded into the car which make the drive in the Cooper much more luxuriant. The car is stacked with Indian and international magazines, an iPad available for the customer’s benefit and in-car Wi-Fi.
Tuljapurkar says the customer profile is diverse. “Corporate executives, ad agency professionals, and the regular person — our customer could be anyone. Other than regular hires, we were surprised that families from Mumbai hired our high-end cars to travel outstation to places like Pune, Lonavla, and Surat.”
Over the course of his journey Tuljapurkar has also developed a keen understanding of his customer’s tastes. In fact, this most recent acquisition of the Mini Cooper reflects just that. “People hire cars to go on dates, weddings, anniversaries and so on. Instead of taking the same old BMW or Mercedes why not a Mini Cooper, right? We have the Countryman version which seats five people.”
Potholes are worn like proud badges of honour by our streets. Would a Mini, which is used to more congenial environs, be able to cope with the horrors of our roads?
Tuljapurkar’s quip is more personal, revealing to a great extent, that the Mini Cooper’s inclusion is as much an act of faith from an avid car lover, as it is a calculated business decision. “It is a superb car for the city and very much capable of doing outstation runs. The Mini Countryman is a crossover and also has a good height clearance and four wheel drive if you are stuck in a messy situation on the roads. However, honestly, to get the Mini Cooper is a decision more from the heart than the mind.”