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Old 1st April 2015, 13:37   #16
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Sipani has now moved on to real estate development (www.sipaniproperties.com). If their method of operation in the past is any indication, then it might be wise to stay away from them now too!
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Old 1st April 2015, 13:49   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FINTAIL View Post
The Montana D1: Supposedly, an 'improved' Montana. It had a body copied in plastic (or fibreglass. Whatever) from a second generation Daihatsu Charade but equipped with an Indian-built Mitsubishi-Shakti diesel engine intended for a mini-tractor. These cars were very small players; in the fiscal year 1989-90 a mere 290 automobiles were built by Sipani.
A generic press release pic:

Sipani took over Auto Tractors Limited in 1991 and manufactured diesel engines and tractors in the old ATL factory in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. The company had some Ashok Leyland connection- Hence, IIRC, it was also known as "Auto-Land".

A small diesel engine- meant for a mini tractor, was duly plopped into the Montana.. And voila!
From bad- to worse! First the Mitsubishi motor- and now this!

Suffice to say, I've written in detail about the Montana (and the D1 as well), in the previous post.
Deserved to be a failure, don't you think?

In essence, the Montana was a (poorly designed) enlarged Dolphin, with a Mitsubishi derived diesel, meant for a small tractor.

The Montana D1- was also an enlarged Dolphin FRP frame. But- With a Diahatsu derived outer body shell. And with an Auto-Land diesel- again meant for a small tractor.
AFAIK, the Autoland diesel was a 1400 cc diesel that also did duty in some Ambassadors, not a tractor engine. The Mitsubishi engine referred to in the paragraph belonged to the Mitsubishi Shakti from VST Tractors (Bangalore), but that engine was on the Montana, not the D1. The D1 only came with the Autoland diesel that was probably the "smoothest" diesel in the country at that time. The Autoland diesel was generally used for Amby dieselisation projects where the owner cared for comfort/NVH and not for 'power'.

Truth to be told, the D1 was a pretty good effort. It was a good looking car for that period of time, and since Sipani realised that they would never enjoy the economies of scale that the big manufacturers did, they simply used the parts bin of Maruti, Mahindra and PAL so that body component replacement would be easier for owners. Previous models including the Dolphin had issues with getting body components and spares shipped across from Bangalore, therefore using commonly available parts was probably a good idea. All the glass panels from existing vehicles, as were locks, plastics, et al. The engine was shared with the Ambys therefore independent maintenance was not going to be a problem. If am not mistaken the front glass was either from an SS80 or a Conti - even that was replaceable. The D1 was probably the first 'kit car' to be produced in the country.

The D1 actually moved quite well - with the torque of a diesel and about 36 bhp of power (not sure about actual output) on a fibreglass body, it could surprise quite a few wannabe racers on the roads.

Unfortunately fibreglass was not accepted by the market, despite Sipani resorting to desperate measures like exhibitions where members of the public were invited to whack a large hammer onto a Dolphin/D1 to prove how tough the material was.

Anyway, good ideas aside, Sipani was always known as an dodgy dealer for Hindustan Motors in Bangalore. Dad picked up our Ambassador from that dealership back in '72 or something.

I still love the Dolphin, and one particular example of the D1 belonging to a friend in Cochin who used to take pleasure in running down wannabe racers in their 'souped up' M800s, Padminis and 118s. Quite easily too - once the Petrols used up their initial acceleration advantage the lumbering Autoland would easily catch up with all of them and then put them behind.

Last edited by Steeroid : 1st April 2015 at 14:07.
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Old 1st April 2015, 14:00   #18
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Thanks FinTail for getting me nostalgic, so many memories. My dad used to own a dolphin during the late 80s and i learnt to drive all by myself when i was still in school. It was a beautiful car.
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Old 1st April 2015, 14:30   #19
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Thanks for refreshing the memory. I remember the ads in paper of a 800 look alike car and I was really impressed at that time.

There was a Motego with Kids kemp owner I think which I could see a lot.
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Old 1st April 2015, 14:34   #20
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

My father-in-law had a Montana and he raves till date on how good the car was .

Unfortunately for him, the workshop (in Bangalore ) he had given the car for service was flooded (they kept the cars in the basement) and the car was totally gone. He pulled strings and got the dealer to give him a new car and later sold it .

Sipani did have the guts to do things differently. A pity the sales support wasn't that good. Same applies to Chamundi Mopeds, who made the Sportif (Licensed from Peugeot). These products should have succeeded.

A great thread - superb effort !!
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Old 1st April 2015, 15:49   #21
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

However ugly it was, still refreshing old memories makes you happy. I still remember the song in the movie "Ram-Balram" where the SAIL Badal was featured and they even pick it up and carry when it gets stuck. Below is a pic from the song. (Courtesy: memsaabstory.com)

Name:  Badal.JPG
Views: 3281
Size:  24.5 KB

Montana was almost bought by my dad to compliment our ageing Amby and the Fiat 1100 (which we still own) only to be changed (thankfully) to the SS80 at the last moment. I went on to learn driving in class 6th in our SS80.

Makes me nostalgic.
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Old 1st April 2015, 18:08   #22
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Sending my contribution to this thread, few pics of an immaculately restored Badal taken at Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-img-132.jpg

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-img-134.jpg

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-img-133.jpg
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Old 1st April 2015, 19:38   #23
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steeroid View Post
I still love the Dolphin, and one particular example of the D1 belonging to a friend in Cochin who used to take pleasure in running down wannabe racers in their 'souped up' M800s, Padminis and 118s. Quite easily too - once the Petrols used up their initial acceleration advantage the lumbering Autoland would easily catch up with all of them and then put them behind.
Steer- Thanks for your hugely informative reply! Particularly the 'hammering' part.

A small question- Did a *petrol* Montana ever exist?

And ummm...Since you mention that Sipani was *formerly* a HM dealer- on similar lines, how is your Landmaster doing?
Ex-Bombay car- and then ex-Poona, IIRC. She was registered BML something, no?
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugathan View Post
Thanks FinTail for getting me nostalgic, so many memories. My dad used to own a dolphin during the late 80s and i learnt to drive all by myself when i was still in school. It was a beautiful car.
Memories should be revisited. BTW- as it was RWD, did you ever drift?

That said- Any pics of the car in question? Or even any funny little anecdotes of the car- from the era gone by?

Would appreciate them!
Quote:
Originally Posted by srishiva View Post
Thanks for refreshing the memory. I remember the ads in paper of a 800 look alike car and I was really impressed at that time.
There was a Motego with Kids kemp owner I think which I could see a lot.
'Wonder where that car is now!
Quote:
Originally Posted by polopm View Post
A great thread - superb effort !!
Whoa- Thanks!
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinayrathore View Post
Montana was almost bought by my dad to compliment our ageing Amby and the Fiat 1100 (which we still own) only to be changed (thankfully) to the SS80 at the last moment. I went on to learn driving in class 6th in our SS80.
Makes me nostalgic.
Good that the Montana didn't come, wot?

Do write about your 1956 FIAT 1100, and the SS80, of course!
Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
Sending my contribution to this thread, few pics of an immaculately restored Badal taken at Heritage Transport Museum, Gurgaon.
May be immaculate- But the wiring is a mess. Perhaps- But knowing Sipani's awful build-

That's the way it was originally?


Yeah- Noticed a Sipani naming trend. Just like the Mahindra's have a penchant for the vehicle's name to end with an 'O'- as in Quanto, Verito, XUV 5OO et cetera, all of Sipani's four-wheelers had the second letter in their name as what?

An 'O'- of course!

Examples: Dolphin. Montana. Montego.

Of course- The D1 was an exception to this rule- The 'O'dd man out! XD

Last edited by FINTAIL : 1st April 2015 at 19:48.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:18   #24
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Ah yes happy memories. My grand father brought one of the 1st models in 84.
He was an industry guy of some repute. That car could fly.
Being fibre glass you could repair any body damage quickly. And totally rugged.

It's too bad it didn't do well. I will write a bit more later.
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Old 1st April 2015, 20:40   #25
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Good information and narration Fintail!

I was lucky enough to drive a Dolphin in my teens before they became just artifacts on the road . This was owned by my uncle in Chennai and the drive was just a couple of kms . Now I cannot recollect much except for how small and fragile it was.

Apart from the drive, I clearly remember the exhaust note of the Dolphins . Few of the audible ones like the Standard Herald .

The Sipani showroom and sales in Bangalore at the time was in Queens road towards the Indian Express junction.
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Old 1st April 2015, 22:15   #26
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Superb!!

I remember Montego ads that used to appear in the newspapers(I don't remember how old I was then, may be 10?) those days and was excited about a new car hitting the roads. I remember there were three variants - Montego Saloon, Montego Estate and another one. I still remember my first spotting of the Montego in front of my house one day. Pretty sharp memory .
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Old 1st April 2015, 23:13   #27
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There was a lot of hype and craze for the advance booking of Monatana diesel. My father booked one car. However we have cancelled the booking after seeing the demo car. The sad part is that the booking amount was never returned. It went through it own cycle of follow ups, post dated cheques and cheque bouncing.
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Old 1st April 2015, 23:24   #28
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Quote:
Originally Posted by FINTAIL View Post
Note the three spoke steering. Any other Indian car had it in 1994/95?
1993-94 Zen had a beautiful 3-spoke steering wheel - something that very few people know and even fewer who have actually seen it! The same design came back in the early 2000s for the Zen VXi Deluxe Edition.

EDIT:
Here is a sample pic from a VXi Deluxe Edition from internet. Same steering was present in the first few lots of the Zen.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-vxideluxemarutizen.jpg

Last edited by zenren : 1st April 2015 at 23:32.
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Old 2nd April 2015, 00:34   #29
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Wanted to add a bit more to my earlier reply. I don't see any edit option.

The dolphin was the car I learnt my driving in. At first I was only allowed to start it and warm the engine for a minute.

One day my grandfather was late coming out of the house and I somehow worked the courage to take it out of the gate. No scolding were received. A few days later while he was still finishing his Pooja I thought - let's go for a round. I somehow managed to take it for a spin around our area. This was back when there were almost no cars on the road. I got it back to the usual position.

Sill no scoldings. Hmm.. I thought. He has to have realized but didn't say anything.

And then on it was a regular. I would go for longer rounds and return the car before he came out.

By then my driving was pretty good.

One day to my bad luck I had a puncture about 100 m from the house.
I desperately tried to find the tools and figure out what to do with the jack.
At 8 am grandfather comes out and no car anywhere! And no grandson!

He looks around and sees me down the road turning the handle on the jack. Oh boy the punishment I got that day is still in my mind. First his blasting. Then grandma. Then dad and mom. 4x4 if you like.

Naturally he started keeping the keys with him then onwards.

But now I had been infected with the car bug and wanted my daily fix. So like great men before me I decided to worm my way back into his good books.

I then started washing the car each morning. A terrible job as I recollect now with the muck from the tyres getting evenly distributed onto the glass.

Finally after a month of selfless service he gave me my first official driving lesson. We'd go to a play ground and drive each day about half an hour until he had to go to the factory.

He taught me to how dismantle carbs, cleaning the plugs, cleaning distributor heads. And yes changing the tyres and wash the car well.

I felt I learnt more useful life skills at that point than all the algebra, differentiation and मुहावरे लोकोक्तियाँ school could ever teach.

So that was my story.

Next family car was a premier safari probably India's first station wagon. But about that, some other time.

Cheers.
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Old 2nd April 2015, 00:55   #30
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I always thought the Dolphin was infact a pre-800 model since it looked similar. This thread is a great addition to the forum. Thanks for the effort of putting this together.

And yes - the Montego is a beauty!
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