South Asia

Indian tiger hunting Rolls Royce is for sale

The 1925 customised Rolls Royce
Image caption The car was designed more for show than for hunting

A 1925 Rolls Royce car customised with mounted guns and searchlights to hunt for tigers is to be sold in the US next month by Bonhams auction house.

The car was used by an Indian maharaja during the days of the British Raj, and is expected to sell for up to $1.6m (£1m).

It was commissioned by Umed Singh II, the maharaja of Kotah, when tiger hunting was hugely popular in India.

Maharajas were known for their high living and extravagant spending.

Many had customised cars - usually made in the US - for hunting tigers, leopards and Asiatic lions in India's forests.

Bonhams say that the car's eight-litre, six-cylinder engine with a low gearing ratio allowed "it to creep powerfully through the roughshod jungles of Rajasthan".

Correspondents say that while most tiger hunting was carried out on elephant-back, some Indian maharajahs, or "great kings" of princely states took things to the extreme.

"It was more for a show but everything would be ready and then they would then go and take this Rolls Royce up to a point or the hills and from there shoot the tiger that was already captured by their servants," Pran Nevile, a writer and expert on India's colonial history, told the Reuters news agency.

Indiscriminate hunting over the centuries has decimated India's tiger population from an estimated 40,000 animals 100 ago to about 1,700 today.

The vehicle is due to be sold in mid-August in Carmel, California.

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