Prime Minister Narendra Modi got himself a swanky, armoured Rs 12-crore Mercedes-Maybach S650 Guard last month and it is sure to be at the forefront of the upcoming Republic Day cavalcade in two days. This got us thinking about the cars our Prime Ministers relied on. We take a look: 

Jawahar Lal Nehru and his Rolls-Royce 

Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India was a car enthusiast. He initially used to journey in Cadillacs, but then later switched his official steed to a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith. It was gifted to him by Lord Mountbatten, the former Viceroy of India.

Rolls Royce Silver Wraith

 

Rajiv Gandhi and his Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillacs. 

Perhaps one of the most iconic Indian leaders of all time, Rajiv Gandhi was a man of many interests. A trained pilot, the sixth PM of India had an affinity towards fast cars as well. So when he got an opportunity, he often switched between the state-issued Hindustan Ambassador, a Range Rover Vogue and a Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL that was gifted to him by the King of Jordan. The youngest PM of India also had a couple of Cadillacs in his garage. 

 

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That said, Gandhi was also partly responsible for popularizing the concept of affordable cars for the middle class. He was often seen in a Maruti Suzuki Esteem, which helped in popularising the brand name as we know it today. 

 

Narasimha Rao, I.K. Gujral, Dewe Gowda and the Hindustan AmbassadorHindustan Ambassador

 

During the mid-’90s, India was going through a financial crisis. It was Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao, along with his minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who steadied the ship by opening the country to foreign trade and exchange. While the advent of foreign car manufacturers started flooding our streets with numerous options, Rao and his two successors decided to stick with the reliable, Indian-made Hindustan Ambassador. 

 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh and their BMW 7-Series Hi-SecurityBMW 7-Series Hi-Security

 

While Rao’s tenure helped India from drowning in financial crisis, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who set the country’s course to economical growth. While initially he too followed the tradition of using the Ambassador, the 2001 Parliament attack forced the security officials to switch the Prime Minister to a BMW 7-Series Hi-Security. The German car remained in employment for the entire tenure of Vajpayee and his successor, Dr Manmohan Singh. 

 

Narendra Modi and his Mercedes-Benz Maybach S650 GuardMercedes-Benz Maybach S650 Guard

 

After coming into power in 2014, the current PM of India continued using the BMW 7-Series Hi-Security for the majority of both his terms. He was also occasionally seen in an Armoured Toyota Land Cruiser and a Land Rover Range Rover, before upgrading to a Mercedes-Maybach S650 Guard in December 2021. 

The exact customisation of the official cars is never made public. However, what we do know is that the S650 Guard offers VR10-level protection. This includes bullets and explosion resistance, along with a separate air supply to the cabin, in case of a gas attack. 

Image Credit: Cartoq India