A recent Bloomberg report stated that luxury cars, Bentley and Rolls Royce were planning to increase their presence in India considerably.
While the former may seem relatively new, we know that Rolls Royce and India go back when Maharaja’s would play polo and order the luxury car by the dozens.
Here we take a look at the regal car’s royal Indian history.
The very first Rolls-Royce bought by an Indian prince was the 'Pearl of the East'. The prize-winning car was bought by the Maharaja of Mysore after he saw it at the Bombay - Kolhapur Motor Trial in 1908.
To suit Indian preferences, Rolls-Royce developed a 'colonial' model, which was well-suited to the rougher roads and conditions of remote regions, and a popular choice for many maharajas. They were fitted with a wide variety of coachwork for entertainment, hunting, ceremony and transportation.
In 2011, a pimped-out version of a Rolls-Royce, owned by a maharaja went on sale for a cool $1.4 million. With the number plate 'Cexi', the super car is the only one of its kind in the world. It was customised from a 2005 Rolls-Royce, and is now a four-seater Phantom DC Concept with gull-wing doors.
Another Indian royal who owned an opulent RR was Umed Singh II, the erstwhile Maharaja of Kota. He used the bright red and chrome Rolls-Royce, customised with a machine gun, for hunting tigers. It has tall tyres that were designed to cross rough terrain and the low-gearing ratio that allowed the huge vehicle to creep through mud and bush.
For King George V's coronation, held at the Delhi Darbar and attended by many maharajas and princes, eight Rolls-Royces were commissioned. This Rolls-Royce is one of eight Silver Ghosts with identical landaulette bodies that were used for this event. After the coronation, this car was presented to Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Maharaja of Mysore. The car returned to England in the 1950s, was restored and later sold off to another owner.
Yohan Poonawalla, scion of the Poonawala family (their business encompasses pharmaceuticals, hotels and horse breeding) bought the first Rolls-Royce in India two years after test driving it in London. It was the first Rolls-Royce sold through a local dealer in 50 years, and included 103 per cent local luxury tax. His garage houses eight Rolls-Royces.
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