Bits and pieces of India’s most iconic naval ship will now be found on a new range of motorcycles.
Bajaj Auto, India’s second-largest motorcycle maker, is launching a bike made of steel wrenched out of the legendary INS Vikrant, India’s decommissioned aircraft carrier that was scrapped a few years ago.
“We purchased the Vikrant metal and processed it to be a part of our new brand being unveiled on Feb. 1,” Bajaj Auto said in a press release. ”The new bike will, therefore, preserve a significant piece of Indian military history.” The company has decided to name the bike Bajaj V—an obvious inference to Vikrant—and it is expected to have a 150cc petrol engine.
INS Vikrant, the country’s first aircraft carrier, holds an unparalleled place in the history of the India Navy. The 19,500-tonne aircraft carrier played a pivotal role in the 1971 Indo-Pak war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Earlier, in 1961—the year it was commissioned into the Indian Navy—the ship was pressed into action when Indian troops took over Goa, then a Portuguese colony, on India’s western coast.
The British-built INS Vikrant was finally decommissioned in 1997 and sent to the scrapyard in 2014.
“For decades, the INS Vikrant has been celebrated as the pride of our country and is synonymous with Indian military capabilities and power projection. We are proud that Bajaj Auto is playing a role in keeping the legacy of India’s first aircraft carrier alive,” Eric Vas, president of Bajaj Auto’s motorcycle business, said in the press release.
In an emailed response to Quartz, Bajaj Auto declined to divulge any further details about the motorcycle until Feb. 1.
Interestingly, one of the company’s earlier vehicles was named after another battlefield icon—Chetak, the steed of Rajput king Maharana Pratap. The Bajaj Chetak, a scooter powered by a 145cc petrol engine, was a household name in India at a time when the company held a near monopoly in the Indian two-wheeler market.
Bajaj Auto’s fortunes dwindled after the Indian economy opened up in 1991, losing ground to a number of homegrown and foreign bike makers. It stopped making Chetak in 2005, as motorcycles became the Indian two-wheeler market’s mainstay.
Bajaj currently holds a 19% share in the Indian two-wheeler market, which is led by Hero Motors and Japan’s Honda.