Desi Firang – Early Years

It did not take long for Indians to take to the automobile. Soon after commercial production of the automobile began in Europe in the 1890s, several motor cars found their way to India. By the beginning of the 20th century, there were several automobiles in the cities of Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Bombay (now Mumbai). Most of the cars that came to India were French, as at the turn of the century France was the number one nation when it came to the production of automobiles. But soon there were cars from the United States (the Oldsmobile Curved Dash amongst others), United Kingdom as well as other European nations.

Oldsmobile Curved Dash was imported in India, in 1901


JRD Tata's mother Suzanne (Sooni) Briere was the first female to drive in 1905.

By 1910, it was estimated that there were over a thousand cars plying in the city of Bombay alone. Bengal Presidency boasted of a car park of over three thousand, most of which were in Calcutta. As more and more cars were imported into India, several European and American firms set up their offices in India over the next two decades. Firms such as De Dion-Bouton, Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Chrysler, Fiat, and others either had offices or a representative in India.

Rolls-Royce cars were the favorite of the Maharajas for hunting