A bright red 1959 Chevrolet Impala convertible is an eye-catching sight anywhere, it is safe to say, and one would be even more so wherever Detroit classics of the tailfin era are seldom seen. Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is one such place, so you can imagine the impact of this car as it drove down the street along the city’s historic waterfront. Its batwing tailfins and cat’s eye taillights are seen here cruising past the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the landmarks of Mumbai since its completion in 1903.
Although an unusual sight, this 1959 Chevy cruising past the Taj Mahal Palace and then turning left between it and the adjacent Gateway of India is appropriate in a way. America’s big and flamboyant cars of the late 1950s were coveted status symbols in India at the time, as they were in many parts of the world. Their owners were businessmen and other wealthy individuals, the sort of people who would have frequented the Taj Mahal Palace, and they appeared as symbols of affluence in many early Bollywood films, as proudly proclaimed by Chevrolet of India on its website.
The Taj Mahal Palace has its own connection to the automotive world: its was the creation of Jamsetji Tata, founder of the Tata Group, the massive industrial conglomerate that is the largest car and truck maker in India and since 2008 has owned Jaguar and Land Rover. So the appearance of this 1959 Chevrolet in this place was less an aberration than a nod to the past, perhaps even a return to a place where the car once frequently visited.