Fan of the Republic Day parade? Wondering what kind of car the President of India drives? Look no further. On the eve of our 73rd Republic Day, we take a look at some of the most iconic official state vehicles.
Rajendra Prasad And His Cadillac Country Convertible
Rajendra Prasad’s name will forever be part of history books as the first President of independent India. With the country still reeling from the 200 years of colonization, there weren’t many homegrown manufacturers who could provide our leaders with made-in-India wheels. Hence, the first official car which ferried around Rajendra Prasad was a Cadillac Country convertible. The car would be the first of many which would be imported from America to join the official convoy of the young nation. However, over the years it was replaced by the Hindustan Ambassador.
Shankar Dayal Sharma, K. R. Narayan and APJ Abdul Kalam and their armoured Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The late ’80s and early ’90s saw a slew of assassinations of top Indian officials. The royal motorcade needed a safer upgrade. The answer came in the form of a Mercedes-Benz W124 armoured S-Class, which became the official car of Shankar Dayal Sharma, the ninth president of India. While the exact security features of the car are still guarded, considering the aspect of National Security, the W124 was said to be bullet- and grenade- proof. After Dayal, the car remained in service for 15 years, and was the official ride of K. R. Narayan. During his tenure, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam upgraded the ride from a W124 to a Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140.
Pratibha Patil, Pranab Mukherjee and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Pullman
With the appointment of India’s first female president, Pratibha Patil, came a change of guard. Her official ride, the armoured Mercedes-Benz S-Class was replaced with the W221 Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard armoured limousine. While the exact specifications are shrouded in mystery, it is said that the limousine can save occupants from machine-gun fire, direct grenade explosions and even IED explosives. After serving her term, the car was passed on to Pranab Mukherjee.
Ram Nath Kovind and his newer Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman Guard
The 14th president of India, Ram Nath Kovind, upgraded his ride just before last year’s Independence Day. The S600 Guard is more than 6 metres long and comes with an improved VR9 level of protection, which means it is resistant against an AK47 assault rifle and a 15kg TNT blast from a distance of two metres. Additionally, the vehicle also gets strobes, sirens, two-way radio and a long list of impressive features.
Image credit: Cartoq