After a long struggle against the Britishers, India was finally declared independent on 15th August 1947. Since then, India has become one of the largest democracies in the world. Starting with Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the country to Narendra Modi, the current prime minister of India, all had their unique cars. On the occasion of 75th Independence Day, we take a look at all the cars used by the presidents and prime ministers of India.
Early years – After Independence
President Rajendra Prasad Cadillac Country
After the official independence of India on 15th August 1947, the constitution of India was finally adopted in 1950. After the constitution came into power, Dr Rajendra Prasad replaced the Governer-General to become independent India’s first president. Dr Rajendra Prasad used a convertible Cadilac Country for many years after he got the post.
Cadillac was imported for the president and over the years, many more cars from the same manufacturer joined the entourage. After a few years, the Hindustan Ambassador became the official car and replaced the Cadillac.
Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru – Rolls Royce Silver Wraith
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru was chosen as the first prime minister of independent India. Nehru was a car enthusiast and received quite a few vehicles as gifts from his friends. While Nehru owned a number of American and British made vehicles in India, his first official car was a Rolls Royce.
The Rolls Royce Silver Wraith was gifted to Nehru by Lord Mountbatten – the last viceroy and first Governer-General of India. Nehru used the Silver Wraith for several years and on many occasions, he drove the vehicle by himself.
The middle years – 80s
Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister of India in the 80s. Again, he was a mega car enthusiast and he is the reason for bringing Suzuki to India and create the Maruti Udyog, which is now known as Maruti Suzuki India.
Rajiv Gandhi himself drove around in a Maruti Suzuki 1000. Later, he swapped the humble Maruti Suzuki with a brand-new Land Rover Range Rover Vogue, which he received as a gift from King of Jordan. The President of India was still using imported Cadillacs around this time.
Modern Day armoured cars
After the assassination of two prime ministers of India, the security forces tightened the security around the president and prime minister of India. Special Protection Group was created in 1985 to provide security to the prime minister and president of the country. That is when the armoured vehicles came to the country to keep the prime minister and president safe in the future.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Guard
Indian government got the S-Class Guard for president Shankar Dayal Sharma. The same vehicle was used by K. R. Narayan and APJ Abdul Kalam during their terms. With the high-grade quality, the first armoured vehicle remained in service for around 15 years.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman Guard
The W221-based Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard came to India to serve India’s first female president – Pratibha Patil. We are not sure about the exact specifications of this vehicle due to security reasons. However, the vehicle can withstand direct grenade explosions, machine-gun fire and IED explosions. The car was passed on to Pranab Mukherjee and then to the current president – Ramnath Kovind. However, Kovind recently received an update.
Mercedes-Maybach S-Class S600 Pullman Guard
After delaying the upgrade for one year due to the pandemic, Kovind received the brand-new Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard. The new car costs more than Rs 10 crore.
The new Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard is more than 6 metres long, which makes it longer than most other cars on the roads. It is the flagship and most expensive vehicle from the Mercedes-Maybach.
Modern-day Prime Minister vehicles
After the imported vehicles used by the first few prime ministers, PV Narsimha Rao retained the Hindustan Ambassador. These were the days of the economy rising and the country opening the doors to foreign trade and exchange. A lot of international car manufacturers also entered the country. However, Narsimha Rao, IK Gujral and even Dewe Gowda chose the Ambassador over other vehicles.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee
While Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee started using the Ambassador after getting elected as the prime minister of India, the SPG upgraded his car to a brand-new BMW 7-Series Hi-Security. The move came after the 2001 attack on the Parliament House. He was the Indian prime minister to use an imported armoured vehicle.
Dr Manmohan Singh
Dr Manmohan did not upgrade the BMW 7-Series that he received from Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He continued using the vehicle for the entirety of his tenure as the prime minister of India. The cars in the convoy used by the SPG were upgraded though.
The current prime minister of India – Narendra Modi is not restricted to use only one car. Modi uses several vehicles. Even though his official vehicle is the BMW 7-Series Hi-Security, the prime minister uses cars like armoured Range Rover and armoured Toyota Land Cruiser.