The cars of the newly independent India

The cars of the newly independent India

On the occasion of this Independence Day, we bring you pics of cars and streets from the 1930s, 1940s and later

There was always a privileged class in India, British or no British. Even as motor cars began changing the way the world moved in the West, royalty in India adapted quickly. From Rolls Royces to Cadillacs, India’s Maharanis and Maharajas had them all.

A Series I Land Rover in Darjeeling

Horse carts outside the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Bombay, in the 1940s

Royalty and Its Cars

Maharaja Vijaysinhji of Rajpipli in his Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.  The country’s leading political figures, as always, had access to nice automobiles.

Here’s Mahatma Gandhi entering a Packard owned by freedom fighter and industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla

Business and Freedom Struggle

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Lord Mountbatten touring Simla in the Sunbeam Talbot

Car Rides on the Hills

India's first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad in the Cadillac convertible state car.

Presidential Ride

Queen Elizabeth gifted Viceroy Mountbatten a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, which was later passed on to Pt. Nehru, and that served as India’s state car for a few years after Independence.

A Repurposed Gift

The British expatriates working in India before and after independence had their Rovers and Land Rovers and Willys.

A Rover P2 sports saloon in Calcutta

Ashok Motors built and sold the Austin A40, which was also used as a cab in metro cities. Ashok Motors went on to become Ashok Leyland. 

Austin, Ford and Chevrolet taxis at Bombay’s Flora Fountain

A scene outside Bombay’s Churchgate railway terminus

Mahindra got into the automobile business by building Willy’s Jeeps licensed from Willy’s USA.

Jeep's Indian Beginnings