Lately, videos and images of Maharashtra’s Chief Minister, Eknath Shinde, riding in a Toyota Land Cruiser LC300 have been circulating on the internet. Many have asserted that the Chief Minister has acquired a new Toyota Land Cruiser LC300 as part of his official vehicle fleet. However, our investigation into the vehicle’s details might come as a surprise to many, particularly those making such claims.
An Instagram video shared by “autofreaks_mumbai” features glimpses of Eknath Shinde’s “new” Toyota Land Cruiser LC300, showing the Chief Minister departing from a public event in the SUV. However, after scrutinizing the vehicle’s registration number, we discovered that it is, in fact, a 2011 Toyota Land Cruiser LC200, the previous-generation model of Toyota’s flagship SUV.
This revelation clarifies that rather than acquiring an all-new Toyota Land Cruiser LC300, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has added a pre-owned, second-hand, previous-generation Toyota Land Cruiser LC200. The vehicle has been modified with an aftermarket exterior body kit to mimic the appearance of the new-generation model. The modification, which involves the redesigned front and rear profiles on the white Land Cruiser LC200, was achieved using aftermarket kits available in the market, enabling the LC200 to closely resemble the LC300.
Altering the actual appearance of an older vehicle is typically against the law. However, in some rare instances, it may be permitted, albeit with extensive paperwork and the necessary permissions. It is presumed that the Chief Minister obtained the required approvals to carry out the modification and utilize the old SUV with the bodywork resembling the new version.
This particular modified Toyota Land Cruiser LC200 used by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde is a 2011 model, now in the possession of its second owner. It still retains the 4.5-liter diesel V8 engine with an automatic transmission, the same as when it was originally available for purchase in India.
In contrast, the all-new Toyota Land Cruiser LC300 was introduced at the start of 2023 and is being imported to India in limited quantities. The SUV currently comes with a single 3.3-liter twin-turbo V6 diesel engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission as standard. Positioned as Toyota’s flagship vehicle in India, the Land Cruiser LC300 carries a price tag of Rs 2.10 crore (ex-showroom, India).
Is it a legal conversion?
In accordance with Act 52, it is forbidden for any motor vehicle owner to alter the vehicle in a manner that deviates from the information stated in the registration certificate and varies from the original specifications provided by the manufacturer.
In simpler terms, this means that the fundamental shape and structure of the vehicle must remain unchanged and unaltered. This restriction also extends to the engine, disallowing modifications aimed at enhancing power, performance, or exhaust sound.
Each car introduced to the Indian market undergoes a series of comprehensive tests that cover diverse parameters, including safety. When we, as enthusiasts, make modifications to our vehicles, we inadvertently compromise these standards. This compromise affects the safety of the vehicle’s occupants and endangers the safety of others sharing the road.