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Old 16th August 2014, 12:29   #46
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Lightbulb Nostalgia: Bajaj Tempo Matador / Volkswagen Vans

The Matador always fills me with nostalgia (Maybe the mods might want to start a new section on Nostalgia and a lot of vehicles including Amby, Matador will find their way there).. I feel so lucky to find this thread here and hoping to revive this for some interesting discussion on this wonderful vehicle.

This was a very versatile vehicle built along the lines of the Volkswagon Van (See Pics: courtesy google).. The vehicle had so many applications and could have been a truly versatile and life-style vehicle. You can fit in a double-bed in the vehicle and also convert it into a Mini RV, with sliding doors and stuff.. With endless possibilities for customization..

I always wonder what went wrong with this vehicle, branding, Service, etc?? Just how could Bajaj Auto and later Firodia's mess-up/ goof-up with this wonderful product..

I understand that at the time in late eighties and ninety's, lifestyle vehicles were probably unthinkable in India... But do you think the market is ready for it today...

Why do you think this wonderful product failed in the market?

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Last edited by man23ish : 16th August 2014 at 12:31. Reason: Changed the Title to a more appropriate one for discussion..
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Old 16th August 2014, 19:42   #47
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

Quote:
Why do you think this wonderful product failed in the market?
-It was very badly assembled, even for its era. Rattled loudly(especially the rear door), shook your bones.
-Broke down frequently. Front axle/CV joint breakage or failure was common. However most of these vehicles were running overloaded and poorly maintained.
-It was more suited to be a load carrier than a people carrier. Eventually better load carriers in its weight range came along.
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Old 17th August 2014, 00:16   #48
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

I'm focusing on non-commercial usage, particularly as a Family or a People mover...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gkrishk View Post
-It was very badly assembled, even for its era. Rattled loudly(especially the rear door), shook your bones.
-Broke down frequently. Front axle/CV joint breakage or failure was common. However most of these vehicles were running overloaded and poorly maintained.
-It was more suited to be a load carrier than a people carrier. Eventually better load carriers in its weight range came along.
I don't deny the things you've mentioned above, but except for the Front-Axle problems, the others should have been relatively minor issues and could have been handled better by Bajaj and Firodia's by putting in proper quality control mechanisms... Doesn't justify killing a product...

I'm told that the engine was well insulated in the centre and the vehicle was very sturdy.. Meaning unlike the Omni, which has the engine right under the Drivers Seat, for the Matador there was a proper Insulated Engine Bay.. Further refinements of the Engine in terms of power and efficiency could also have enabled AC fittings in the Matador..

I understand that the Tempo Traveller came along with a refined OM616 engine.. and effectively cannibalised the Matador. And the Tata's came in with the Sumo and Later Toyota launched the Qualis... All this while, Mahindra had its own range of Jeeps as people movers..

But Bajaj/Firodia's could have plonked the OM611 engine in the Matador and try to keep the brand alive by putting smart features like A/C, sliding doors a-la Omni.. For joint families going out on travels / pilgrimages, matador used to be the vehicle with its easy access and comfortable ride quality... Infact, ride quality in Matador was only second to Amby...

I was too young those days to remember the finer technical elements in terms of engine refinement and other things but i do remember that we had great times in that vehicle..

Last edited by moralfibre : 13th July 2015 at 08:31. Reason: OM616 engine non 611
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Old 18th August 2014, 09:45   #49
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by man23ish View Post
I'm focusing on non-commercial usage, particularly as a Family or a People mover...
I think it was a case of timing. Matador as a personal vehicle mover would not have had garnered enough numbers when Tempo Traveler was there and that too happened only after the onset of IT / BPO / Industrialization boom after the turn of this century.

Before that even Tempo Traveler was a niche product not available with every tour operator when compared with Mahindra Van (based on Jeep FC) / Standard 20 Van or even converted Tata 607
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Old 23rd August 2014, 18:35   #50
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Default Re: Nostalgia: Bajaj Tempo Matador / Volkswagen Vans

Quote:
Originally Posted by man23ish View Post
I always wonder what went wrong with this vehicle, branding, Service, etc?? Just how could Bajaj Auto and later Firodia's mess-up/ goof-up with this wonderful product..

I understand that at the time in late eighties and ninety's, lifestyle vehicles were probably unthinkable in India... But do you think the market is ready for it today...

Why do you think this wonderful product failed in the market?

Cheers,
If you consider Matador's entire product cycle, it wasn't a failure. It was India's leading LCV in the 1970s and 1980s. Of course it had its shortcomings. It wasn't refined and the front wheel drive torsion bar suspension resulted in poor tyre life. The preference shifted to Standard when they introduced the new model in 1982 which had I beam axle at front. But it was really killed by Tata 407 which was much sturdier and carried a lot more load. In the passenger segment, Tata Sumo did the job. And of course, Firodia itself had come out with a much better product in Tempo Traveller.

Last edited by directinjection : 23rd August 2014 at 18:36.
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Old 26th August 2014, 13:00   #51
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Default Re: Nostalgia: Bajaj Tempo Matador / Volkswagen Vans

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In the passenger segment, Tata Sumo did the job. And of course, Firodia itself had come out with a much better product in Tempo Traveller.
I beg to disagree, Tata Sumo and Tempo Traveller were different sub-segments in the overall mass-mover segment. No offense, but I think most people today would prefer a Swaraj Mazda bus to a tempo traveller in that sub-segment.. The closest competition to Matador today would be the Tata Winger (which itself is not doing so well).

There still exists tremendous potential in the passenger segment, especially as a school van or a private family outdoors vehicle due to its sheer space and luggage carrying capacity and this was a front wheel drive, so had better control and ease of steering as compared to RWD.

Bajaj and Firodia's did the cardinal mistake of not upgrading the vehicle along with the times..

If VW can re-package the beetle into a nice new bottle, its time now for Firodia's to think positive and re-package the Matador into a new package with better muscles...
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Old 26th August 2014, 18:59   #52
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Default Re: Nostalgia: Bajaj Tempo Matador / Volkswagen Vans

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Originally Posted by man23ish View Post
If VW can re-package the beetle into a nice new bottle, its time now for Firodia's to think positive and re-package the Matador into a new package with better muscles...
Are'nt you expecting a bit too much from a company which

1. is still unable to supply in decent numbers the Force 1 and fix issues
2. produces the mythical Gurkha in BS4 avatar
3. delivers its vehicle by driving them from the factory instead of using delivery trucks
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Old 26th August 2014, 19:26   #53
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Default Re: Nostalgia: Bajaj Tempo Matador / Volkswagen Vans

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Originally Posted by man23ish View Post
If VW can re-package the beetle into a nice new bottle, its time now for Firodia's to think positive and re-package the Matador into a new package with better muscles...
The only thing the "re-packaged" Beetle shares with the original is the name and logo, otherwise not a single nut or bolt is common. You are suggesting that Firodia should carry out a similar exercise with the Matador. But they have already done that - by launching the Tempo Traveller, a superior product that also comes in 7-9 seat versions (Matador segment). The only difference is that they didn't name it Matador nor followed its styling cues.
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Old 28th July 2016, 19:38   #54
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Some information on the Bajaj Tempo Minidor (the big rikshaw):

...
I know all this as I have studied the Minidor in complete detail. Its transversely mounted torsion bar rear suspension is also derived from the front wheel drive Matador.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
Was it around the time when the Champion was being developed?


I always wondered how the Champ rear suspension was so much better than the Minidor. Can you throw some light on the differences?
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Old 29th July 2016, 14:19   #55
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by fighterace View Post
Was it around the time when the Champion was being developed? I always wondered how the Champion rear suspension was so much better than the Minidor. Can you throw some light on the differences?
Dear Fighterace - hello to you. Thank you for asking me the question on Mahindra Champion. Yes, we had benchmarked the Minidor and the Vikram during Champion development. Our benchmark Minidor's registration number was MH15K7058. I used to drive it around Nasik city, with people waving to me to stop, they thought it was a taxi as it was black and yellow! .

Yes, Champion is my baby. We were a core team of 3 people, I was one of them. We did the project from nothing to launch in just 24 months. We sold 3000 vehicles every month, month after month for a very long time! The way we did this project at that time, if I mention the ridiculous timelines that we actually worked to and achieved when we made and tested the prototypes and made the drawings, you would never ever believe me, but we actually did it! I remember every activity, as if it happened yesterday. Therefore, this project had (and still has) many firsts to it's credit within the company. .

On your query on the rear suspension ride comfort, when we demonstrated the prototypes to the senior management, this point came out loud and clear and was appreciated by all. I used to drive the vehicle at it's maximum speed of 54 kmph on gravel tracks inside the plant with the senior colleagues in the back seat. I still remember their comments!

Here are two photographs of the prototypes. Incidentally, the red load carrier is the same vehicle as the black and yellow passenger carrier (serial number 31). Please guess how much time we would have taken to convert the original passenger carrier to the load carrier. Please remember that when we received this instruction, we had nothing! Please post your reply here, let me see! . In the end, the load carrier outsold the passenger carrier by a huge margin!

Enjoy!

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
Attached Thumbnails
Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans-picture2.jpg  

Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans-picture1.jpg  


Last edited by DHABHAR.BEHRAM : 29th July 2016 at 14:27.
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Old 29th July 2016, 14:31   #56
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear Fighterace Yes, Champion is my baby. We were a core team of 3 people, I was one of them. We did the project from nothing to launch in just 24 months. We sold 3000 vehicles every month, month after month for a very long time! The way we did this project at that time, if I mention the ridiculous timelines that we actually worked to and achieved when we made and tested the prototypes and made the drawings, you would never ever believe me, but we actually did it! I remember every activity, as if it happened yesterday. Therefore, this project had (and still has) many firsts to it's credit within the company. .
Wow BD Sir, this is amazing stuff, I think this vehicle or derivatives still are the most popular people movers across India.
Just got a peek into its history.

Touted as a 6 seater, but driven with at least 12 people (including driver) plus cargo and the vehicle still runs.

I have travelled plenty of times in this.

Question: Are champion and Vikram one and the same? In north India this is still called Vikram.


Regards,
Salil
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Old 30th July 2016, 10:28   #57
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by Trojan View Post
Wow BD Sir, this is amazing stuff, I think this vehicle or derivatives still are the most popular people movers across India.
Just got a peek into its history. Touted as a 6 seater, but driven with at least 12 people (including driver) plus cargo and the vehicle still runs. I have travelled plenty of times in this. Are champion and Vikram one and the same? In north India this is still called Vikram. Regards, Salil
Dear Salil - hello after a very long time, it is really nice to hear from you. We must really catch up in Pune one of these days!

First and foremost, the strategic intent of doing the Champion project was to compliment the 650DI business of the company and not allow any competition to gain any sort of foothold in the core area of operation. The Champion is a 7 seater as defined by CMVR, and not a 6 seater. In Andhra Pradesh I have seen 17 people + 1 goat in it, and it still moved, albeit at a crawling 15 kmph, which was good enough, because that was exactly how the customer wanted it to run. I have spent 3 full days just sitting in a corner in the vehicle and observing its use pattern, in a place called Miryalguda in Andhra Pradesh (between Hyderabad and the east coast) and recorded it's performance against the benchmark Minidor. I remember, the archtypical operator speaking Andhra style Hindi was so happy that after a hard day's work ferrying passengers, he took home 100 rupees more than he would have had, if he had operated the Minidor, that he treated me to a local soft drink called "ice-cream soda" from a glass bottle where the rubber stopper (known as "buch") would go inside the bottle when opened, just like in the good old days! Fuel efficiency (operating dynamics) and load carrying capacity were the primary USPs to crack this market. Appearance and NVH were of no consequence at all. We gave exactly what this class of customers wanted, and flattened the competition. .

Champion and Vikram are completely different. Champion has a rear mounted 30 degrees to the horizontal water cooled engine with a 4 speed transaxle. Vikram has a front mounted vertical air cooled engine with a conventional transmission, propeller shaft and rear axle. Except for lower unladen weight, the Vikram had absolutely no advantage. The operators in Lucknow had told me that if you want to lose your cool, drive a Vikram! The engine is exactly under the seat, it becomes scalding hot and makes a hell of a racket, the NVH is terrible! . Incidentally, the Vikram was manufactured in Lucknow itself!

You have not replied to my question, can you guess the time we took to convert the "kaali peeli" in the photograph above to the red load carrier? Hazard a guess. Remember, we had nothing on the day we were told that it was required to be done and showcased to the senior management.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar

Last edited by DHABHAR.BEHRAM : 30th July 2016 at 10:31.
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Old 30th July 2016, 13:19   #58
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear Fighterace - hello to you. Thank you for asking me the question on Mahindra Champion. ...



... Please guess how much time we would have taken to convert the original passenger carrier to the load carrier. Please remember that when we received this instruction, we had nothing! Please post your reply here, let me see! . In the end, the load carrier outsold the passenger carrier by a huge margin!

Enjoy!

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
Dear Sir,

It a honour to get such an enthusiastic response from you. I vividly remember the Minidor getting decimated once the Champ came to the scene. It was one of the rare occasions when the interests of the passengers and the operators were both served simultaneously. The Minidor's rear suspension was atrocious to say the least, but the drivers were least bothered. I remember being so much happier when we got a Champ instead of a Minidor. The fact that it still is the most popular three wheeled passenger and load carrier and still able to hold its own against the formidable Tata Ace on NCR streets is a testament to the soundness of the basic design.

About the conversion from the passenger to the load carrier, I would guess two days if you had on demand access to a fabrication and paint unit and the work was done for two shifts a day. This is assuming that no mechanical changes were made. How far off is my guess?

BTW, what is the 650DI? And what is the engine that you used in the Champ? AND you have not revealed the secrets of the rear suspension. Thinking of it, the Minidor was quite a welcome change, despite the harsh ride, till the Champion came about.

With regards,

Yours faithfully,
Fighterace

@Mods: Please create a separate thread if we are digressing from the core topic.
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Old 30th July 2016, 14:03   #59
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

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Dear Sir, about the conversion from the passenger to the load carrier, I would guess two days if you had on demand access to a fabrication and paint unit and the work was done for two shifts a day. This is assuming that no mechanical changes were made. How far off is my guess? BTW, what is the 650DI? And what is the engine that you used in the Champ? you have not revealed the secrets of the rear suspension. Thinking of it, the Minidor was quite a welcome change, despite the harsh ride, till the Champion came about. With regards, yours faithfully, Fighterace.
Dear Fighterace - have you seen both the vehicles? Please see them, then you will understand the quantum of work which was required. Of course there were major mechanical changes, oh come on now! . Our primary requirement was that the load body area should be completely flat (no wheel arch projections inside the load body), which required that all aggregates be packaged below the threshold dimension which was 740mm from ground (Minidor load carrier was 720 mm). There was no fuel pump, fuel feed was by gravity, so new fuel tank location was required, with new fuel lines with their mounts, as the tank had to be above the engine level which was not possible with the tank in its existing position in the passenger carrier. Then there were major changes with relocation of the radiator, with new mounts and hoses, a completely new cast exhaust manifold, a new battery location to minimize electrical losses, the new cab with superstructure and canopy, changed location of the cab mountings, new co-driver seat (there was no co-driver seat in the passenger carrier), new spare wheel position and a completely new 3 sides 180 degrees open-able load body.

We delivered the first vehicle which we call EP1 (Engineering Prototype 1) in 4 full working days, working upto late nights everyday. Incidentally, one of those days happened to be 15 August, Independence Day! I don't recall any other EP1 which has been delivered in 4 days! .

650DI is the name of the mainstream 10 seater soft top utility vehicle that the company made in Kandivli, mainly targeted at the point-to-point taxi segment market.

In Champion, we used a 510cc single cylinder water cooled diesel engine developing 10bhp power and 3kgm torque. We worked closely with Greaves to convert the original vertical aircooled engine to the 30 degrees to horizontal water cooled engine. We conducted the engine FTP (full throttle performance) and oil consumption tests during the Diwali holidays! This engine is still used in production in another vehicle application, even today.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 30th July 2016, 15:33   #60
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Default Re: Bajaj Tempo Matador F305,F307 and R307 vans

Okay, monocoque vs ladder frame. So essentially you developed a new vehicle in 4 days flat! Have you tried to get it into any of the record books?

But sir, I am still waiting for the details of the suspension. It could have been something very minor, so you may not find it worth mentioning. In that case I would like to know why BTL was conspiring to break everyone's back.

Are the Alfa and the Gio still using the same engine?

Talking about the 650DI, I believe it was popularly known as the Commander. They garnered such an I'll reputation for accidents in our area that my father, who is not cowardly by any yardstick, forbade me from travelling in them. I have seen them travelling with nearly 20 people on board with their luggage and the driver half outside the vehicle. Even then they would do close to 90 kmph. Needless to say, accidents were frequent and fatal.

Last edited by fighterace : 30th July 2016 at 15:44.
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