Mercedes Benz limousines have been standard fixtures for transporting India’s presidents over the last couple of decades. Today, we take a look at India’s six last presidents’ official modes of transport, starting with Shankar Dayal Sharma, through to incumbent Ram Nath Kovind.
Shankar Dayal Sharma
Shankar Dayal Sharma was the first Indian president to use the Mercedes Benz S-Class limousine. This car has been bullet and grenade proofed to withstand small arms. The W140 iteration of the S-Class is acclaimed for its longevity and superb build quality. These aspects are taken to the next level by Mercedes Benz’s special division that builds vehicles for state heads, such as India’s President and Prime Minister. Notably, the W140 limousine that used to ferry Shankar Dayal Sharma was passed on to his successor, in this case K.R. Narayanan.
Did you know, India’s first president Rajendra Prasad’s official car was a Cadillac convertible imported from the United States of America.
K.R. Narayanan used the same W140 S-Class limousine that was allotted to Shankar Dayal Sharma. Upon succession, he returned to the state issue Hindustan Ambassador.
Did you know, the Indian president’s car does not carry a registration plate. Instead, it has India’s national symbol, the Ashoka Pillar in place of the number plate.
A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Probably the most loved president of India ever, Dr. Abdul Kalam was almost rockstar-like in terms of popular appeal. The W140 Mercedes Benz S-Class also ferried this humble man, who promptly switched back to his official issue Hindustan Ambassador upon completion of his 5 year term as India’s first citizen. Well, the Hindustan Ambassador is what presidents of India are allotted after their terms in office expire.
Pratibha Patil was India’s first woman president, and took office upon the completion of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s term. Pratibha Patil was also the president whose official car was upgraded from the W140 S-Class to the W221 S-Class S600 Pullman limousine. The W221 S-Class S600 represented the next generation of the luxury saloon, modified to a Pullman limousine for the use of the Indian president.
Pranab Mukherjee uses the Mercedes Benz S-Class S600 Pullman limousine that was also used by his predecessor, Pratibha Patil. The S-Class limousine in question is the S-Guard version, which means that it is heavily fortified to withstand fire from small arms and grenades.
The car also comes with an air intake system that seals the cabin and provides fresh air to escape chemical weapons. The car is powered by the 5.5 liter twin turbo petrol engine, and uses run flat tyres. Weighing over 3 tons, the car costs about 6 crore rupees.
Ram Nath Kovind
Ram Nath Kovind was elected as India’s 14th president, succeeding Pranab Mukherjee. Mr. Mukherjee’s Mercedes Benz S600 Guard was passed on to Mr. Kovind, and is now his official state car. The S-Class that President Kovind uses features the same level of security and sophistication, and is one of the most secure cars in India.