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Old 17th April 2014, 20:25   #46
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Default Re: Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene

Texmonster, the pic you've put up is that of a Landmaster, not Amby.

Early in my childhood, we had a Standard 10 for family use, and a couple of Vanguards for use by my dad's business.

The Standard 10 was a dinky little sedan with serious gearbox problems; I believe it was not synchromesh. Most people who drove it had problems changing gears.

The Vanguards were seldom used for personal use, but had electrical and gearbox problems.

The mainstay was Ambys.

These came with dynamos, not alternators, and long distance travel was a problem, especially in summer. Dynamos put out more current at higher speeds (direct relationship), and at constant high speed cruising at triple digits, the battery would be overcharged and die. After this happened a couple of times, Chennai's then premier auto electrical shop, Automark, suggested we drive with the headlights on. This caused villagers to step in our path to wave to us that we idiots were driving with headlights on during the day! This didn't fix the problem though, so Automark took to the practice of adjusting the "cut-out" so that the battery would be charged less at higher speeds. So the car had to go to them before the trip, and again later to reset the cut-out back to normal for city use.

Another issue back then was that coolant was unknown in India; tap water was routinely used. The minerals in the tap water created their own problems in the radiator. On long trips, whenever we stopped for a break, the engine would be so overheated we couldn't switch it off; the engine would "diesel on", so hot that it would ignite the fuel-air misture in the cylinders on its own and continue running. The only way to kill it was to put it in gear and pop the clutch out without any accelerator input. Then pop the hood open, wait for a while, then risk opening the radiator cap with a very large cloth folded multiple times to protect yourself from the hot water spray. Wait a bit and then add more water from a jerry can. Then wait again for the water temps to stabilize. If you were hasty with this, the sudden influx of cold water into the engine would crack the cast-iron cylinder head.

No a/cs or radios in cars. One just kept the windows down and sweated it. All tyres were bias-belted tube-type. As someone pointed out, tyres were so expensive one just got them "remoulded" - a new tread would be heat/compression stuck to the basic carcass of the tyre. With certain brands (Ceat, if I remember), this could be done 4 or 5 times. These were mainly for city use; for long distance, one tried to use new tyres or first time remoulded ones.

Roads those days were scientifically built and had proper banking, both on highways and on ghat sections! Potholes were rare.

Our very first Fiat was obtained in 1970 (after waiting several years after the booking). It went to my eldest brother, and was the first car in the family to have a radio. It was a British brand called "Pye", and used vacuum tubes. It had a large box in the front passenger footwell that was the inverter, and another smaller box which contained the tuner and amp. These were connected to the head unit that was in the dash. Prolonged use at low speed or when parked ran the battery down!
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Old 17th April 2014, 20:33   #47
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Default Re: Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene

Great, interesting thread. Thanks GTO!

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Originally Posted by directinjection View Post
Permission was earlier refused to Tata for foreign collaboration for the proposed LCV foray. So, TM launched its ambitious "Project Jupiter" whereunder the company was to create an indigenous LCV within 18 months flat! The end result was Tata 407. The 18 month deadline was also met although the product was developed from scratch! That's how the famous Sumant Moolgaonkar ran Tata Motors! In contrast, the Tata Motors of 21st century takes 4 years to launch Safari 18!
I have heard a story about Mr. Sumant Moolgaonkar: He had come for a job interview at Mr. JRD Tata's office. When the interview was midway, Mr. Tata had to go out for some time for an urgent meeting. The meeting went on for quite some time and the scene what Mr. Tata saw when he came back is: Mr. Sumant is comfortably sleeping on his chair with his legs on the table! Mr. Tata was angry and asked for an explanation. The reply from Mr. Sumant was enough for his immediate placement in the Tata's: "I felt at home", he said.

Sumo (Su-Mo) is believed to be a tribute to Mr Sumant Moolgaonkar.
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Old 17th April 2014, 20:48   #48
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Maruti 800 (14th December 1983 to 18 January 2014)

Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene-page3-044.jpg

(India Today photo)

Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene-scan-00012.jpg

The newly incorporated Maruti Udyog Ltd started production of its Maruti 800 (SS 80) on December 14, 1983 (founder Shri Sanjay Gandhi's birthday). This was based on 1979 Suzuki Fronte and had a 796 cc litre F8B engine. The SS80 rolled out of the Gurgaon assembly lines for nearly 2 years to be replaced by the new shape (SB 308) based on the Suzuki Alto.

Maruti Udyog had a majority stake holder in the Govt of India while Suzuki was a minority stake holder. Suzuki Motor Corporation increased its stake from 26% to 40% in 1987, and further to 50% in 1992.The first Chairman was Shri V.S. Krishnamurthy, IAS, who was the Secretary, Ministry of Heavy Industry, then. Mr R.C. Bhargava, (now Chairman) was the first Managing Director. The Maruti 800's transmissions were fully imported even till the late 1990's and the early part of this century. To indigenise the engine components, the Kirloskars took up the job of designing a similar crankshaft under licence. While their R & D was working full time, the crankshaft dimensions for the new engine were changed by a few millimeters by Suzuki. The Kirloskars for the very first time faced this kind of a quagmire. I am not so sure what transpired later on, but this fact was widely reported.

-The Maruti 800 had huge waiting lists and anyone with influence or money could get an allotment out of turn. The car was the cynosure of all eyes.

- The car was the darling of many and is still so for many, many enthusiasts like me, who till date own their first car - mine is a 1987 model that will be 27 years old on April 23, 2014.

-For the car costing Rs 55,000, in 1984, many owners squandered an equal amount to adorn their most loved set of wheels by fitting accessories.

- The spares would be so costly that buying all the parts to assemble the car with spares would amount to twice the cost price of a showroom car. The reason was the differential import duties on assembled cars from CKD kits and for the import of spares. Hence, many owners would be told to eject out and see what damage has been caused to his or her car, after any impact, as the other object (even an automobile) hit by the Maruti would have suffered minimal damages, if any, but not the Maruti.

- Lastly, an old Parsi gentleman driving his 1940's Buick, once in the mid 1980's yelled, "These days I find Marutis stuck on the radiator of my car, rather than flying insects and flies during the olden days."

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 17th April 2014 at 21:02.
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Old 17th April 2014, 21:07   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Coming from old school of driving

Many people who learnt in the era of Fiat/Padmini/ Ambys would be comfortable driving without the outer rear view mirrors. There was only an internal RVM for the job.
Saket, You are very correct. I had learnt driving on the 1989 Premier Padmini (One which had gear lever next to the steering wheel). Honestly, I find driving today's cars far easier. I always adjust the IRVM and just open the ORVM of my side for protection from minor nips and nudges by other cars.

During the period of 1990 to 1995 Maruti Udyog became the leading passenger car maker where as Hero Honda became the leader in the 2-wheeler segment in India in the same period.

Also, here is a small piece of info from the internet;

Quote:
It was in 1898 that the first motorcar rode down India’s roads. From then till the First World War, about 4,000 cars were directly imported to India from foreign manufacturers.
Read on: http://auto.indiamart.com/cars/advent.html

Last edited by ad3952n : 17th April 2014 at 21:09. Reason: quote tag aligned
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Old 17th April 2014, 21:21   #50
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Excellent trivia and a great trip down memory lane, GTO and everyone else who've contributed.

Petrol cost Rs.8.45 in Kolkata in December 1988, when we first drove from Kolkata to Delhi - and it cost Rs.7.56 in Delhi. Our petrol Amby returned an average of ~9 km/l, and it took us 37 hours of driving (between my brother and me) (this was comparable to the time taken by the Toofan Express to do the same journey on rails) apart from an overnight stop at Benaras. The total cost was less than the price of 4 (the total number of people who travelled in that car) Rajdhani Express chair car seats from Howrah to New Delhi.

When I bought my first diesel car (an Indica DLS) in 2000, diesel cost Rs.16.55 in Delhi, and petrol was Rs.28.70 per litre.

When radial tyres made their first appearance in the Indian market (IIRC early 1980s), no one wanted them because they were said to have too much rolling resistance and brought down fuel efficiency (they didn't). It was another matter that twirling the steering of an Amby or Fiat could help the driver develop better biceps when radial tyres were fitted.

Maruti introduced Stanley 'sealed beams' on their cars at launch. One blown filament meant the whole unit needed to be changed - the cost of a round 7" headlamp on the Omni / Gypsy was a whopping Rs.450.

A pair of wiper blades for the Maruti SS80B cost ~Rs.900 in 1985-86. Theft of wiper blades was common, as was theft of rubber window beads. Owner resorted to riveting the beads at multiple points to prevent them being stolen. Later on, theft of the Lancer and Honda City's ORVMs was a regular feature in some cities, even till very recently (ANHC ORVM Organized Theft Racket - Owners beware).
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Old 17th April 2014, 21:27   #51
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A very interesting thread and one due to which I learnt quite a lot of new things about Indian cars, today. Seeing the Peugeot 206 commercial; was this car ever sold in India? If yes when? If no, then why make such a commercial for a car that was never going to be sold in India?

Anyways, a full 5 * rating for this thread; and I am sharing the link with all my friends.
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:08   #52
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I don't have anything to add but would want to know why was Rx100 discontinued when it was enjoying all the success?

Oh and Peugeot 206 commercial, probably one of the best car commercials ever! Thanks a lot for this, one of the best threads ever!

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Old 17th April 2014, 22:13   #53
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I don't have anything to add but would want to know why was Rx100 discontinued when it was enjoying all the success?

Oh and Peugeot 206 commercial, probably one of the best car commercials ever! Thanks a lot for this, one of the best threads ever!
Rumour mill has that the RX100 caused too much pollution. Funny cause during that era there were vehicles that polluted more than the RX100.
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:39   #54
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Originally Posted by fine69 View Post
I don't have anything to add but would want to know why was Rx100 discontinued when it was enjoying all the success?

New emission norms, and the RX100 couldn't comply.


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Old 17th April 2014, 22:39   #55
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Originally Posted by fine69 View Post
I don't have anything to add but would want to know why was Rx100 discontinued when it was enjoying all the success?
The RX 100 could not cope up with the newly implemented emission norms. They introduced the RX 135 claiming its less polluting and later the RXG (G for Green according to Escorts). But the newer , more stringent norms sounded the death knell for the RX series and also the Bajaj (the KB 100 and KB 125 too) and LML two stroke scooters. Today only the TVS Teenz is the sole two wheeler with a two stroke engine in our market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texmonster View Post
Almost everybody born in 80s will have a relationship with Ambassador. When I was a kid, we used to fight to sit in the lap of the person at front corner seat! That was because of the 'cut-window' which will blow air at your face when the car is moving.

Air-condition was a luxury at that time and the 'cut-window' was a boon! This feature disappeared on future Ambassadors (BHPians-from which year/model ?)
The quarter glass of the Ambassador survives till today. It came with the Hindustan 14 design in 1949 (the Hindustan 10 did not have a pair) and has survived in the Landmaster years (1954-57) and the great ol' Ambassador Era (1958 - till today).

Fun & Interesting Trivia on the Indian Car Scene-a2014-087.jpg

In fact so many of the British components from the original Morris Oxford Series III were discontinued in a phased manner in the Ambassador. The clock on the dash, ventilation vent atop the dash, engine oil pressure gauge along with many more components disappeared. But surprisingly, the quarter glass has lived on.

The quarter glass on Premier Padminis disappeared in November 1987 as a cost cutting measure.

The thieves had also become very smart over the decades. This quarter glass by the late 1970's was a source of woe for many, as gaining entry either to steal the car in its totality or its music system became rampant.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 17th April 2014 at 22:44.
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:44   #56
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Is/was there any front-wheel drive commercial vehicle in India? I don't mean people movers like Tata Winger.

I remember there was a pickup truck based on Tempo Metador. But it quickly vanished after Tata introduced 407.

By the way, which manufacturer introduced automatic climate control in India?
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:48   #57
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post

Maruti introduced Stanley 'sealed beams' on their cars at launch.
I will have to disagree. Sealed beams were already in the market and I remember our 71 model Ambassador had sealed beams. Don't remember the brand though.
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:55   #58
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I will have to disagree. Sealed beams were already in the market and I remember our 71 model Ambassador had sealed beams. Don't remember the brand though.
1971 Ambassadors had "Lucas, Made in India" sealed beams. It later (I think it was in the 1990's) on became Lumax sealed beams as OE.

Before it became "Lucas, Made in India," there was a phase in the 1960's when it was labelled as Lucas, England Glass".

My Landmaster still has its original "Lucas, Made in England" sealed beams.
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Old 17th April 2014, 23:01   #59
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Wonderful thread. Takes you back in time.

Some ZEN trivia from my side.
While the Fiat Uno managed to get 3,00,000 bookings the humble Zen managed to get 2,80,000 booking. Not so far behind eh. Now due to the labor unrest at the FIAT -PAL plant things did not go well for Uno.Zen cashed in on that. Rest is history.

While the Zen was launched in 1993, The RC Bhargava of Maruti said in an interview there were a few minor niggles inthe current version like for example if the driver rolled down the windows then the seatbelt (if not fastened) used to hit the pillar and create a knocking 'tak' 'tak' noise.
Believe it or not in 2003-04 when I drove the Zen Diesel without fastening the seatbelts it still had the problem. But then Seatbelts became mandatory. and number of people who drove with their windows rolled down decreased dramatically.

Jellybean did not come with Android as a usage. It was first used by Maruti. Zen was marketed as (and probably was) the first jellybean shaped car in India.

Zen was claimed to have a 20+ mileage but most never got that. Coming from a 800/Padmini, most people never shifted to the 5th gear at all. My mom's uncle (in his 90s now) did not know his Aug1994 model zen had 5 gears until 1995 Feb. His mileages were pathetic at best.

Zen diesel used the Peugeot TUD5 Diesel 57 bhp engine. The suspension was changed to accommodate the additional weight and the engine was a tight fit. Not even a coin would fall through.

Zen Diesel initially came without a Power Steering and had Zen D (no LDi, VDi,ZDi then) as the nomenclature. Later Zen Di was launched with Power steering.

Maruti probably introduced the first electronic power steering in India.

Some other trivia.
Mahindra had a Peugeot XD3P for Commander and some other models till late 90s.
Maruti 800 had a Clarion headunit as standard equipment for the DX version.
There were families that would flip the rear seat of the M800 and seat 5 people in the back along with the luggage. Unthinkable now!!
When Ford Endeavor was launched the manufacturer launched an ad stating that they were manufacturing the largest radial in India. was it MRF or CEAT ? not sure
Ford Endeavor (5060mm) longer than a Force Traveller (4935mm) (refer http://www.forcemotors.com/vehicle/index/traveller_3050) and (http://www.india.ford.com/suv/endeav...ions/spec-data)

Last edited by figo_mba : 17th April 2014 at 23:26.
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Old 17th April 2014, 23:04   #60
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Superb & extremely fun & informative read.

Also, have read this many times, but somehow feel this is far from truth and sheer work of imagination.

How true is this story?

"One day during his visit to London, King Jai Singh was walking in casual dress in Bond Street. He saw a Rolls Royce showroom and went inside to inquire about the Price and Features etc of their cars......When King Jai Singh observed that Rolls Royce has learnt a lesson and they are sorry for their mistakes, king stopped using those cars for carrying wastes."
Though a nice story, it is a little over the top, just like the Vijay Mallya left his Ferrari in a NYC bank hoax. But yes, it does well serve the purpose of swelling up our Indian egos. A punch right on the face for the Brits.

This old thread seems to suggest that almost every king in India had a garbage-van fixation.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/pre-wa...maharajas.html (How rich were the Maharajas before Independence! Cars of the Maharajas)

True, the Maharajas did hoard all the wealth before Independence, but that so many of them donated to their RRs to the municipal dumps seems a tad unlikely.
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