They borrowed it from a barber here, who had only recently imported it from Germany. You read that right. We’re talking about the legendary barber Ramesh Babu, who gives haircuts for Rs 75 and collects luxury cars that he rents out too.
Ramesh’s latest acquisition, the Mercedes-Maybach arrived last month. After Vijay Mallya and a builder, he is the only other person in the city known to have imported this car. The other standouts in his fleet include a Rolls Royce, 11 Mercedes, 10 BMWs, three Audis, and two Jaguars.
Ramesh’s journey is as awe-inspiring as his cars are. Like he has been doing every day for the last 30 years, Ramesh, owner of Ramesh Tours and Travels, spends at least five hours daily in his salon at Bowring Institute. He personally styles the hair of his regular customers. As a professional barber, he doesn’t want to forget his roots. But unlike others, he can be spotted driving to work in his egg-white Rolls Royce Ghost.
The 45-year-old bought his Mercedes-Maybach last month with his own money, supplemented by a huge bank loan. His earnings from the salon are modest, but Ramesh, who networks well with the rich clientele, has built a lucrative luxury car rental business.
Vijay Mallya has the same car but in a golden colour and after he went to London, his car was never seen in Bengaluru. Some say it has been sold, others claim it has been parked in UB City.
“It gives me a high to know that I’m the only other person after Mallya and a builder to own a Mercedes-Maybach,” beams Ramesh.
“God is with me and I have worked hard to reach here. My dream is to buy every luxurious car there is. And after Rolls Royce, now it’s the Mercedes-Maybach. Driving this is a thrill,” he says. But he is quick to add that he doesn’t want to forget where he has come from. “I don’t want to forget the suffering… the way my mother brought me up in poverty after my father’s death. So, I will continue to work in the salon. I can afford this luxury because of my profession. I plan to have more such cars,” he told BM.
When his father died in 1979, Ramesh was nine and very poor. After completing SSLC, he quit studies and, like his father, became a full-time barber.
He became a hair stylist, subsequently. His fortunes changed in 1994, when he bought a Maruti Omni van and started renting it out. From there began Ramesh’s tryst with cars.
As of now, he has around 150 luxury cars, some of which he drives to work, or rents out if he can find good clients. He gained international attention in 2011 when he bought the Rolls Royce.