Happy Independence Day Folks
On the 15th of August 1947, India became an independent country and the mega event, in the words of the first PM of India Jawaharlal Nehru, took place ‘At the stroke of the midnight hour’. Nehru welcomed the country’s independence with the famous Tryst with Destiny Speech and India thus became a free nation from being a British colony.
As an ode to the glorious 73 years that have passed till date, we at Cartoq take a look at the vehicles that have transported our Prime Ministers and the President, to these historic parades over the years.
The Early Years
The Presidential Car – Cadillac Country
Though India gained its freedom in 1947, it was only in 1950 that a constitution was adopted and the Governor-General was replaced by the President. As one might know, Rajendra Prasad became the first President of free India, or better say the Republic of India. At that time, the President rode on a convertible Cadillac Country. Over the years, several other cars by Cadillac have been a part of the President’s convoy but it was ultimately replaced by the humble Hindustan Ambassador.
The Prime Minister’s car – Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru moved around in various American and British car marques while travelling the nation before and after independence. Among them, the best-known car he used was a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. The story behind the Wraith is a fascinating one, as it was gifted to Nehru for use as the state car by none other than Lord Mountbatten himself. However, with Jawahar Lal Nehru’s socialistic approach to the economy, cars becam more expensive – a commodity than a necessity – and nearly kicked the car scene in India back into the stone age.
The 80’s Wild Child
During his prime, Rajiv Gandhi was the flagbearer of bringing modernity to India and hence the man drove a Maruti 1000 (later called the Esteem) despite the Ambassador being the quintessential neta car. Later, he switched to a Range Rover Vogue which was given to him as a gift by the King of Jordan.
The 90s saw a change in the cars of the President and Prime Minister of India. this was after India opened up its borders to global brands. With Nehru’s India a thing of the past, cars have undergone a rather tectonic change with robust design and features involved.
The President’s Cars – The Armoured Three-Pointer
Shankar Dayal Sharma, K.R. Narayanan & APJ Abdul Kalam – W124 Mercedes S-Class
Shankar Dayal Sharma became the first Indian President to use an armoured version of the S-Class limousine. The President used a W140 S-class which was best known for its reliability and exemplary build quality among other things.
Due to its reliability and impressive functionality, the W140 generation armoured S-Class was passed onto the next two presidents, who were KR Narayanan and APJ Abdul Kalam.
Pratibha Patil, Pranab Mukherjee & Ramnath Kovind – W221 Mercedes S600 Pullman Guard
Pratibha Patil will always be remembered as the first female President of India. At the time she occupied the President’s chair, the Presidential Limousine was given an upgrade to the W221 generation Mercedes S600 Pullman Guard armoured limosine.
The exact details and information regarding this car are considered a state secret. However, the civilian versions of the Pullman Guard can withstand machine gun fire, grenades and bombs. Later on, the same car was used by Pranab Mukherjee and is currently serving as the official ride of Ramnath Kovind.
The PM’s car – From Ambassador to the UK’s finest SUV.
Narasimha Rao, IK Gujaral, Dewe Gowda – Ambassador
After India opened up for foreign trade and exchange, the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao retained his ambassador despite the entry of various big foreign carmakers in India. The later PMs like IK Gujaral and Dewe Gowda did the same and proudly went around in their HM Ambassador.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee – Ambassador to Armoured BMW 7 Series
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was one of the most respected figures in Indian politics and the first PM from the Bharatiya Janata Party. After the terrorist attack on the Parliament House in 2001, he was forced to ditch the typical ‘for-Netaji’ Ambassador for an armoured BMW 7 Series for better security.
Dr. Manmohan Singh – Armoured BMW 7 Series
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was succeeded in the Parliament by Dr Manmohan Singh. A world-renowned economist and responsible for many grace saving economic manoeuvres for India, Dr Manmohan Singh was the first Indian Prime Minister to exclusively use the armoured bomb-proof car.
Narendra Modi – Armoured BMW 7 Series to Armoured Range Rover SUV
The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi uses an armoured Range Rover SUV and has ditched the BMW limo in favour of the big SUV. However, the BMW 760Li High Security still remains his official car.