Ever wondered when Rolls Royce came to India? On doing some preliminary research, I found that Maharajas (these are “big stately” kings numbering about 225 at the time of our Independence) each on an average owned 3 Rolls Royce cars! Some Rajas also owned RR cars. So contrary to many of our beliefs, there were more families that could afford and own a RR way back in the1930s and 40s than we imagined.
After World War I, it was a status symbol of every Maharaja to own an imported car especially from the United States and of the most popular British cars was The Rolls. Cars that were bought from the US included Cadillacs, Chryslers, Lincoln, Buick, etc.
It is said that Maharaja Pratap Singh Gaekwar of Baroda bought the first RR built after WWII. The first to purchase a Rolls, in India however, was Maharaja of Gwalior.
From an article online “Maharajas Rendezvous with RollsRoyce” by K.R.N.Swamy, from which most of the information is taken from, the Maharaja of Mysore when he ordered for a Rolls it was always 7 in number. When the Maharaja of Bharatpur always bought 3 Rolls at a time.
Many of these Rolls were upholstered with silk brocade, had gold mouldings, some had diamonds and precious stones engraved, and hand crafted wooden panels. The paint used was such good quality that some still have the original paint.
The most favoured version of the Rolls was the Cabriolet. Unfortunately some of these cars are in bad condition for lack of love, money and care.
Those interested in Maharaja Rolls Royce cars, here is a list of Phantoms shipped to India from England between 1936 and 1939.
1) 3AZ 47 Limousine, Hooper, 1936 July, H.E Viceroy of India
2) 3AZ 198 Limousine, Hooper, 1936 Dec, Commander-in-Chief Delhi
3) 3AX 87 Saloon Limousine, Barker, 1937 June, Nawab of Bahawalpur
4) 3AX147 Limousine, Gurney Nutting, 1937 Feb, Mah. Holkar of Indore
5) 3AX201 Limousine, Hooper, 1937 Mar, Mah. Gaekwar of Baroda
6) 3BU 50 Landaulette, Thrupp and Maberley, 1937 Mar, Mah. Darbhanga
7) 3BU 76 Sedanca de Ville, Barker, 1937 June, Mah. of Jaipur
8) 3BU 82 Sedanca de Ville, Hooper, 1937 June, Maharani of Nabha
9) 3BU 86 Allweather, Thrupp and Maberley, 1937 April, Nawab of Bhopal
10) 3BU 102 Limousine, Hooper, 1937 April, Mah. of Jodhpur
11) 3BU 106 Limousine, Kellner, 1937 Feb, Maharani of Baroda
12) 3BU 134 Open Tourer, Barker, 1937 July, Mah. of Kolhapur
13) 3BU 198 Sedanca de Ville, Windovers, 1937 April, Mah. of Rajpipla
14) 3BT 75 Saloon, Windovers, 1937 July, Maharawal of Chhota Udaipur
15) 3BT 181 Allweather, Barker, 1937 Sept, Ruling Chief of Keonjhar State
16) 3CP 112 Saloon, Windovers, 1937 Nov, Prince of Baroda
17) 3CP 116 Cabriolet, Windovers, 1938 Feb, Prince of Berar
18) 3CM 37 Saloon, Park Ward, 1938 Jan, Mah. of Panchakote
19) 3DL 26 Cabriolet, Thrupp and Maberley, 1938 July, Raj. of Parlakimedi
20) 3DL 90 Limousine, Park Ward, 1938 Sept, Indian trials
21) 3DL 96 4 Seater Sports, Park Ward, 1938 Nov, Mah. Saheb of Morvi
22) 3DL 200 Drop Head coupe, Park Ward, 1939 Nov, India High Comm.