Republic Day 2018: Here’s a look back at cars used by Indian Prime Ministers and Presidents


  • Republic Day 2018 marks the 69th year of the formulation of the Indian Constitution - of Democracy. While Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar will have his name etched in history books for eternity, sadly we can't be sure of the cars he drove or was driven in. However, we can talk about the motorcade of the Indian Prime Minister and President. Find here the cars that are designated to the two very important Indian citizens:

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  • Rajiv Gandhi was perhaps the only prime minister who had an inclination towards fast cars. While in his time and for a long time, the Hindustan Ambassador was the preferred car for most Prime Ministers, Rajiv Gandhi was seen driving about in faster, more luxurious cars. The King of Jordan gifted Gandhi a Range Rover Vogue, a year after he gifted him a Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL. (Images: Cartoq)

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  • India's Prime Minister from 1991-96, P V Narasimha Rao is rememered as the PM under whom economic liberalisation was made possible. Back then, the royal steed of all important diginitaries used to be the trusty ol' Hindustan Ambassador. (Image: Cartoq)

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  • Hindustan Ambassador continued to the first choice for ferrying the Primi Minister of India. Inder Kumar Gujral's tenure ended in under two years and he inherited former PM Rao's white Ambassador. Even shorter a time spent in India's top office was for H D Deve Gowda, whose official set of wheels was also the Ambassador. And then came Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is one of the longest serving parliamentarians and also a Bharat Ratna awardee. Vajpayee settled for the white Amabassador, but eventually the Special Protection Group upgraded his the PM to a heavily armoured BMW 7-Series. (Images: top left - AP, below - Cartoq)

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  • Manmohan Singh succeeded Atal Bihari Vajpayee and remained in Prime Minister's office for two terms. In Singh's term, the prime minister's motorcade was added with BMW 7-Series sedans and also BMW X5 SUVs. (Images: Cartoq)

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  • After Singh, current Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office and is driven in a heavily fortified, petrol powered BMW 7-Series 760 Li luxury sedan, commissioned specially for him. However, Modi switched his official state car to an armoured Range Rover Sport.

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  • Before we begin the Indian President car slide show, let's focus on a few facts about presidential cars. For starters, the Home Ministry clearly states that the make, model and registration numbers of the cars used by the President of India is a state secret and the disclosure of such details will jeopardise the first citizen's security. The following details are only based on what we can see. Another fact is that these cars do not bear a licence plate, instead it has the national emblem - the Ashoka Pillar.

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  • The official set of wheels for the President of India is the Mercedes-Benz S Class (S600) Pullman Guard. It is the flagship model from Mercedes-Maybach, which went on to become the official car for head of state and individuals who are particularly at high risk. A stretch limo, the S600 Pullman Guard is also armoured, we're talking real bullet resistance here!

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  • Over the past couple of decades, Mercedes Benz limousines have been the name to go to for moving persons of heavy importance in India. Shankar Dayal Sharma was the first Indian president to use the Mercedes Benz S-Class limousine, which was bullet and grenade proofed. The W140 limousine that was used by Shankar Dayal Sharma was later passed on to his successor, KR Narayanan. (Above image: Cartoq)

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  • The most adored and respected President of India has by far been Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The car that ferried Kalam was also a Mercedes Benz S-Class W140. And like other previous presidents, he too switched back to Hindustan Ambassador, which is the official car allotted to former presidents after completion of their term.

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  • Pratibha Patil, The first ever female President that India has seen, was upgraded from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140 to W221 S-Class S600 Pullman limousine. It was with Patil, the next generation of the S600 was employed for use by the head of state.

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  • Pratibha Patil, The first ever female President that India has seen, was upgraded from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140 to W221 S-Class S600 Pullman limousine. It was with Patil, the next generation of the S600 was employed for use by the head of state.

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  • Mercedes Benz wasn't always the first choice for a presidential car. India’s first president Rajendra Prasad’s official car was a Cadillac convertible imported from the US. (Image: Cartoq)

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