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Old 11th June 2020, 10:52   #1
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Default Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Related Thread = The Cars of Rashtrapati Bhavan

The cars used by the heads of state of any country are carefully considered, keeping their security & image in mind. Many are custom-built for the purpose as they need to be fast, reliable and attack-proof. In India, over the years, various cars from an Ambassador to the Mercedes S600 Pullman have been used.

The detailed specifications of these Presidential cars are kept a closed secret. So we may never know what exact features each of these cars have. The President and Governor's cars also do not have a number plate for security reasons. Instead, they have the State Emblem of India in place of the number plate.

Here are a few cars used by our Presidents and Prime Ministers. Please share any more pictures that you may know of.

Hindustan Ambassador
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One of the most ubiquitous cars used by the heads of state in India, including various prime ministers. The humble Ambassador remained the choice of wheels for decades.

BMW 7 Series (E67)
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Due to growing security concerns, Atal Bihari Vajpayee moved from the popular Ambassador to a safer E67 BMW High Security 7 Series.

BMW 7 Series (F03)
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The fourth-generation 7 Series was replaced by a fifth-generation model. The 760Li High Security comes with BRV 2009 and VR7 ballistics protection ratings. The car was chosen over a Mahindra Scorpio.

Range Rover HSE
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Along with the 7 Series, Narendra Modi initially used an armored third-generation Range Rover.

Range Rover Sentinel
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The third-generation Range Rover was replaced by a purpose-built fourth-generation Range Rover Sentinel. It comes with armoured glass, fully-certified protection cell, roof and under-floor blast protection, fragmentation protection, run-flat tyres and an emergency escape system.

Toyota Land Cruiser
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Along with the Range Rover Sentinel, Modi sometimes uses a Toyota Land Cruiser LC200.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W140)
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Who said only enthusiasts have taste? Shankar Dayal Sharma was the first Indian president to use an S-Class limousine. The car was also used by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman (W220)
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The W140 S-Class limousine was replaced by the W220 S-Class. The wheelbase of the Pullman is 1 metre more than the standard car!

Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard (W221)
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This is the current presidential car, powered by a V12 no less ! The production launch of this car marked the 80th anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz special-protection unit. The president wanted to replace it with the W222 version, but shelved the plan after the Covid-19 outbreak and resulting economic slowdown.

Maruti 1000
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Rajiv Gandhi is one of the few Prime Ministers who enjoyed cars and preferred driving himself. He had a Maruti 1000 which was the "fast car" of its time.

Range Rover Vogue
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He moved from the Esteem to a Range Rover Vogue that was gifted to him by the King of Jordan.

Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL
Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister-500sel.jpg
Just like the Vogue, this Mercedes 500 SEL was also gifted to Rajiv Gandhi by the King of Jordan. The car served 5 presidents between 1990 - 2012 and now resides in the Rashtrapati Bhavan museum.

Jeep SWB
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Rajiv Gandhi also had an American-built right-hand drive SWB Jeep that was bulletproof and tailor-made for him.

Mercedes-Benz W123
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This Mercedes-Benz W123 belonged to Giani Zail Singh. This picture was taken when he was attacked by a mob, after Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He escaped because the car was armoured.

Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman
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The 600 was called the Grosser (Grand Mercedes) and was one of the most luxurious cars you could buy at the time. It was used by the heads of many countries and also by many celebrities.

Cadillacs!
Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister-pres-cadillac.jpg
India's first president, Rajendra Prasad, had a convertible Cadillac as his official car. The car was also used when the heads of other countries visited India. The government had one more Cadillac at the same time. The picture of the hardtop was taken in 1963.

Mercedes-Benz 300D Adenauer Cabriolet
Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister-mercedes-300.jpg
After serving dignitaries for many years, this ex-presidential car was sold off in an auction. It has been restored and is now in the hands of a private collector from the UAE.

Chevrolet Impala
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Indira Gandhi is known to have traveled in an Impala a few times. A red Impala convertible once used by her now survives in a private collection.

Rolls Royce Wraith
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This Rolls-Royce Wraith was one of India's first state cars and was used by several state heads including Jawaharlal Nehru. The car was originally gifted by Queen Elizabeth to the Viceroy of India, Louis Mountbatten, who passed it down to Nehru post-Independence.

Willys Jeep
Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister-willys-jeep.jpg
The Indian president once had a Willys Jeep. This picture was taken in the mid-fifties and shows Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Fiat 1100 Super Select
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Believe it or not, Lal Bahadur Shastri bought this 1964 Fiat 1100 after taking a loan of Rs. 5,000 from Punjab National Bank, but sadly died soon after. The loan was repaid by his wife, who used her pension money to clear the automotive debt.

Presidential Buggy
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This gold-plated buggy was used by the Viceroy of India. Post independence, it came to India's hands, and was used by our Presidents. But the buggy was kept away due to security reasons after Indira Gandhi's assassination. It is now back in duty during ceremonies. Read more on the interesting story of this buggy here.

Last edited by GTO : 11th June 2020 at 18:25. Reason: Maruti 1000, not Esteem
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Old 11th June 2020, 11:00   #2
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!

It's fantastic to see that our leaders have good taste in cars . Question = How come we don't see any Audis?

Meanwhile, our neighbour's PM Imran Khan recently held a fire sale:
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Quote:
Bullet-proof jeeps and helicopters drew hundreds of bidders to a Pakistani government "austerity-drive" auction aimed at cutting vehicle costs.

But the heavily publicised sale - held on the lawns of Prime Minister House - failed to live up to its billing and even drew laughter from buyers.

Auctioneers said the government hoped to net at least $16m (£12m), but just $600,000 was made from Monday's sale.

More than 100 cars - half of them billed as luxury vehicles - were up for auction on Monday. However only 62 went under the hammer.

Of those, the crown jewels were two Mercedes Maybach S-600s, purchased under former PM Nawaz Sharif in 2016. However, when an asking price of almost $1.3m was announced for each car, there was a huge roar of laughter among the almost 500 bidders present - and no takers.

In addition seven BMWs, and all 14 Mercedes Benz S-300s from 1993 went unsold.

The most expensive car that did sell was a bullet-proof 2015 Toyota Land Cruiser, which netted almost $200,000. Four bullet-proof 2005 Mercedes jeeps also found buyers.
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Old 11th June 2020, 16:09   #3
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiragM View Post
Rajiv Gandhi is one of the few Prime Ministers who enjoyed cars and preferred driving himself. He had a Maruti Esteem which was the "fast car" of its time.
That's a Maruti 1000. The Esteem was launched 3 years after he died.
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Old 11th June 2020, 16:24   #4
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Prior to the E67 they also had a fleet Armored E38 750 Li's, E70 X5 Security (Not-armored). Rarely seen are a few armored Land Cruisers used in extreme conditions.

A super rare and exclusive pic.
Attached Thumbnails
Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister-123.png  


Last edited by Maverick5490 : 11th June 2020 at 16:37.
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Old 11th June 2020, 19:56   #5
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Had posted the below video on another thread, anyways posting it here again since this is the appropriate thread.

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Old 11th June 2020, 20:20   #6
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Cool thread since this isn't very common info, compared to how widely "The Beast" is reported!

Quick questions:

1) What vehicles do the PM and President use when they travel within the country? Do they borrow the respective CM's vehicle or do they rely only on helicopter travel or does Raj Bhavan have a spare lying around

2) Do these vehicles travel abroad with the dignitaries, as the American does

3) Do they have protocol on ferrying foreign dignitaries, esp. when the dignitary is traveling with a spouse

Also, was curious about this King of Jordan connection:

Quote:
King Hussein of Jordan has presented a bullet-proof Mercedes to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the United News of India reported today.

Gandhi was the object of an unsuccessful assassination attempt Oct. 2.

King Hussein and Queen Noor brought the car with them when they visited India last month shortly after the failed attempt on Gandhi’s life.

Gandhi often drives himself to work and to his farmhouse on the outskirts of New Delhi in his U.S.-built Jeep. Both Gandhi and Hussein are also aircraft pilots.
https://apnews.com/e59bf0e0b43b59ca786d659a4a1cdc28

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Question = How come we don't see any Audis?
Perhaps because Audi's been busy selling the Q7 to celebs.

Quote:
Meanwhile, our neighbour's PM Imran Khan recently held a fire sale
The PM/President cars obviously have a lot of tech in them; wonder how easy it was for them to strip all the attack/defense equipment. This would be mostly classified technology so I'd imagine they can't just sell the car as-is to civilians.
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Old 11th June 2020, 21:11   #7
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Quote:
Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post

Quick questions:

1) What vehicles do the PM and President use when they travel within the country? Do they borrow the respective CM's vehicle or do they rely only on helicopter travel or does Raj Bhavan have a spare lying around
In the case of the PM, the older BMW's / Land Cruisers are flown out in advance. Perhaps there is a pool of such vehicles in strategic locations. In Bangalore, a E350 Guard is used by the President and other visiting heads of state (not the PM)

Quote:
2) Do these vehicles travel abroad with the dignitaries, as the American does
Normally, the host government provides cars unless we consider them not good enough or not upto our specification
Quote:
3) Do they have protocol on ferrying foreign dignitaries, esp. when the dignitary is traveling with a spouse
There is a sort of protocol. Sometimes the spouse transport is handled by the local embassy.


Quote:
The PM/President cars obviously have a lot of tech in them; wonder how easy it was for them to strip all the attack/defense equipment. This would be mostly classified technology so I'd imagine they can't just sell the car as-is to civilians.
In the case of Pakistan, I think a lot of those cars were normal government cars.
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Old 11th June 2020, 22:15   #8
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

More than the cars themselves, the politics of the era also reflects in them.

Open top Cadillacs, Impalas et al in the 50s, 60s.

Foreign government gifts in the 70s, 80s and the Prez in a 200D W123.

The socialist hangover and image politics that lasted till common sense prevailed when the 7series came into duty.

Read somewhere in TeamBHP itself, that a couple of W123s (don't know if armoured) was ordered for Indira Gandhi and specced by her, but the order was cancelled when she was assassinated.

Then for a long time, till the early 2000s, the Ambassador was used.
(read it in some magazine long ago, couldn't look it up anywhere else) Ambassadors used to be exported to U.K, made bullet proof and all related works, plonk in a Toyota or Nissan engine and reimported back. All done for twice or three times the cost of a bulletproof Mercedes (sigh)


Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post

It's fantastic to see that our leaders have good taste in cars . Question = How come we don't see any Audis?
Erm...except for Rajiv Gandhi, don't think any other head of state may have had any personal preference in cars. Maybe terribly wrong, but wager that most had only the average Indian's preference in cars.

The Audis a good question. Not that I want an Audi to ferry the President, but pretty curious about who decides the cars. Yes, the SPG ofcourse, but who?
A person or a committee?
Do they just look up brochures, or do they have any specific tests or parameters?

The Mercs is an easy answer. By virtue of tradition, or the fact that Merc has always been consistent with providing cars for heads of states with protection and Pullman versions, or just that Merc rocks as The car for head of states.

The 7series, I guess was choosen as it was the brand on a roll in the early 2000s, and also maybe seen as less ostentatious than a Merc. The X5s came as a package

Our current PM's SUV usage can be his personal preference, to be visible more and also for his favored place in the front passenger seat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maverick5490 View Post
Prior to the E67 they also had a fleet Armored E38 750 Li's, E70 X5 Security (Not-armored). Rarely seen are a few armored Land Cruisers used in extreme conditions.

A super rare and exclusive pic.
That is a rare peek into the place where these beasts rest.

The usage of LCs outside New Delhi, instead of the Range rovers, any specific reasons for that? pssstt...don't want to slip into Land Rover-Toyota fan fight.


Couldn't really digest the current Fortuners' front grille area when it was launched, but once seen in the PM's motorcade in gleaming black, kind of made it look real good.

N.B- Not to sound jingoistic, but it's a pity we don't have a desi State car. Atleast for ceremonial use, Republic day/Independence day. Any self respecting big nation with a fledgling home grown car industry should have one.
Even something like how the Chinese does can be emulated. Tata could use JLR underpinnings or Tata-Mahindra could collaborate for a one-off project.


Was there any 80s Caprice classics by any chance? Remember seeing in an early 2000s R-day parade with 2-3 Caprice Classics. Don't know if it is ours, or the visiting guests, or some consulate vehicles.
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Old 12th June 2020, 09:50   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DicKy View Post
The Audis a good question. Not that I want an Audi to ferry the President, but pretty curious about who decides the cars. Yes, the SPG ofcourse, but who?
A person or a committee?
Do they just look up brochures, or do they have any specific tests or parameters?

The 7series, I guess was choosen as it was the brand on a roll in the early 2000s, and also maybe seen as less ostentatious than a Merc. The X5s came as a package

Our current PM's SUV usage can be his personal preference, to be visible more and also for his favored place in the front passenger seat.



The usage of LCs outside New Delhi, instead of the Range rovers, any specific reasons for that? pssstt...don't want to slip into Land Rover-Toyota fan fight.


Couldn't really digest the current Fortuners' front grille area when it was launched, but once seen in the PM's motorcade in gleaming black, kind of made it look real good.

[/b]
The decision of selecting the cars is completely in SPG's hands. They do proper product testing at respective manufacturers' locations and undergo extensive training as well. The BMW's were chosen because of the availability of the product, and easy service capability plus massive support from BMW themselves. There is a dedicated team for SPG vehicles at the selected BMW dealership.

The shift to Range Rovers is primarily because the F03`s are aging and of course the better visibility and ease of ingress/egress for the PM in an SUV.

Land Cruisers having better reliability are a safer option compared to the Range Rovers, all in all, seeing the motorcade waft by is a sight to behold!
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Old 12th June 2020, 12:47   #10
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

What happens to the older cars? Particularly the Mercedes Grosser. Do they return it back to the manufacturer or auction it off?
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Old 12th June 2020, 12:57   #11
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

As per news back in 2014, Prime Minister must use an armoured BMW due to protocol. Any idea what is this protocol? I don't see anything wrong in PM using a local car, provided that vehicle fulfils the security norms and requirements.

Quote:
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman Anand Mahindra has made a pitch for the decade-old Scorpio to be used as his official car. The PM currently uses two custom-built BMW 7 Series cars, one being a decoy vehicle.


Pawan Goenka, executive director, said, “Mahindra did write to the prime minister, requesting he continue to use the Scorpio as his official car. It is a matter of great pride and honour for us that the prime minister uses a vehicle designed, developed and built in India. We will be happy to further up-armour the Scorpio if required, to meet all the security requirements befitting our prime minister.”
Quote:
An industry official said, “The Special Protection Group (SPG) attached to the PM takes the call on the official vehicle. If the PM chooses to go for a particular vehicle of his own choice, it’s a different case; for the SPG they will go for what is required by the protocol and at present, it’s mostly the BMWs and Mercedes that meet the criteria.
Source
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Old 12th June 2020, 13:42   #12
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

After his victory in 2014, the current PM landed in Delhi and went to Lutyens in a scorpio. Anand Mahindra had tweeted then that he would be happy to have a scorpio built to required specs. (If memory serves me right)

The optics are all great. Considering the push for more 'Indian' stuff, it would be great PR to take Mr Mahindra up on his offer. But yeah, better the PM sits on the front seat. The back seat of the Scorpio is not a great place to be in

Would be surprising if protocol allows for the dignitary to sit in the front seat though.

Last edited by Mik : 12th June 2020 at 13:44.
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Old 12th June 2020, 15:45   #13
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

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Originally Posted by ron_9191 View Post
What happens to the older cars? Particularly the Mercedes Grosser. Do they return it back to the manufacturer or auction it off?
The car in the picture is the pulman version and Right hand drive which marks it as being one of very few ever built. The was only ever one right hand Pullman landau for instance,sold new to Australian Tyre magnate,Bob Jane, and is now in the collection of Lindsay Fox, The many leaders across the globe who had 600's would often get them shipped back to Stuttgart for extensive servicing,in true socialist fashion. But when these dictators died or were removed these beautiful machines would end up in the open market. A friend of mine was in London last month looking at a 600 for sale which was one several belonging to Mobutu which had been secreted across Europe.
A good friend of mine had 4 600's ,one of which was also a RHD version Pullman which he sold on the agreement that he could by it back,unfortunately the new owner quickly resold it to a Chinese buyer who has since abandoned it at a resto shop which appears to have bitten off more than they could chew,sadly .It didn't need any restoration being coddled from new.The First owners being Phillip Morris tobacco.

Last edited by Star man : 12th June 2020 at 15:50.
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Old 12th June 2020, 17:28   #14
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Default Re: Pics: Cars of the Indian President & Prime Minister

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiragM View Post

Presidential Buggy
Attachment 2013405

This gold-plated buggy was used by the Viceroy of India. Post independence, it came to India's hands, and was used by our Presidents.
Little Trivia: This buggy is from pre-independence era. Hence during the partition, both sides i.e. India and Pakistan laid claim over the buggy and eventually it's fate was decided by a coin toss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mik View Post
After his victory in 2014, the current PM landed in Delhi and went to Lutyens in a scorpio. Anand Mahindra had tweeted then that he would be happy to have a scorpio built to required specs.
Mr. Mahindra's offer was emboldened by the fact the Mr. Modi actually used to ferry around in a Scorpio during his Gujarat CM days.
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Old 12th June 2020, 18:14   #15
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Originally Posted by ChiragM View Post
Fiat 1100 Super Select
Attachment 2013408
Image Source
Believe it or not, Lal Bahadur Shastri bought this 1964 Fiat 1100 after taking a loan of Rs. 5,000 from Punjab National Bank, but sadly died soon after. The loan was repaid by his wife, who used her pension money to clear the automotive debt.
I have loads of respect to Shastri, and he once again proves that he was a gem of a minister and it's a pity that we lost him so fast, our country would have progressed much faster if he had been at the helm for his full term for sure.
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