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Old 7th April 2015, 09:41   #61
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Originally Posted by Cooltronics View Post
Wow ! Not many of this generation remember the Dolphin.. I was a kid back then who use to like this car for its button like tail lamps
How I wish some of such brands could have survived the changing times and kept producing newer generation cars.

By the way, it seems Sipani factory was in Whitefield. I daily see its board at ABB junction. Will take a picture today and share it across
The Dolphin was built in Peenya, the Montego in Attibele. The Sipani's also speculated in land
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Old 7th April 2015, 20:38   #62
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Years back, a neighbour of my late grandmother owned a blue Dolphin. One day with their driver at the wheel, the car caught fire. It did not stand a chance with its fibreglass body and was completely burned down in a matter of minutes. The driver escaped unhurt.
Was this in Delhi? There used to be a blue Montana in our colony which caught fire and was turned into a mess of metal and glass fibres in a matter of minutes. The fire was not too far from the owner's home.

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Old 7th April 2015, 21:01   #63
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Some more memories of Sipani Automobiles :

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Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-picture-557.jpg

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 7th April 2015 at 21:05.
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Old 7th April 2015, 21:13   #64
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

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Originally Posted by no1lives4ever View Post
Was this in Delhi? There used to be a blue Montana in our colony which caught fire and was turned into a mess of metal and glass fibres in a matter of minutes. The fire was not too far from the owner's home.
No, this was in my hometown in Kerala. This too wasn't far from the owner's house (hardly half a km away) and I came to know about this when the fire engines came. I then saw it burning from my grandmother's house. By the time I reached it, it was completely burned down.
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Old 8th April 2015, 14:42   #65
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

If I remember correct, Sipani was about to launch a model named CELICA sometime in the final days of the company in the 90's after Rover Montego was launched.Correct me if I am wrong.

Thanking you,
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Old 18th May 2015, 01:07   #66
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Does that mean they had a weak R&D department?

What they really lacked was a service and spares network to make their cars run reliably. Even Maruti existed and dominated for over 10 years without any development on their 800/Omni/Gypsy.

For a small outfit restricted to manufacturing less than x hundred a month (I think they had a license to produce 6000 cars a year, but I could be wrong as its really old info) under the then Quota Raj, they did do a lot more than Maruti did in that space. You may call the D1 jugaad today, but in an era where everything had to be indigenously developed unless you were doing x 1000 sales a month (and of course Maruti was the only company allowed to produce such fancy numbers and therefore nobody else could 'innovate'), Sipani didn't do too badly given the resources they had. For what it was worth, the 'Montana' and the 'D1' did represent r&d even though the execution can be questioned.

I still maintain that the D1 with its studied use of common parts from other manufacturers to get around costly re-tooling, was quite a clever idea. You had a proper 4-seater, 1.5 litre diesel hatchback of quite generous proportions (for that day) for not too much money over an SS80 - less in reality if you considered the unofficial premium on Maruti 800s. The next one that came along several years later was called Indica.

They tried to make do with diesel engines from other local manufacturers (even though they were mini-tractor engines) and even bought over Autoland Diesel in an effort to dieselise their car. Something Maruti did after another 20 years, with a Fiat/GM engine - not their own.

Last edited by Steeroid : 18th May 2015 at 01:15.
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Old 20th August 2015, 06:39   #67
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@FINTAIL , great job on the research and thanks for the kind words on the car. I'm not too active on the board these days but since these are the only pictures I have of my Dolphin, I come here once in a while to remind myself of how much fun it really was, and to keep the spark of the hobby alive in my demanding life today.

CNA 7768 still very much exists and lives in a family member's home in Mysore. I haven't seen the car in probably 7 years since I live in the US but I'm confident that it is kept in shape very lovingly. It was my second car ever, but I consider it to be the first since the D1 I foolishly bought (mainly because I couldn't find a dolphin at the time) was barely used before it was thrown away.

That being said, the D1 donated it's beefed up wide track rear axle, entire front suspension, and disc brake system to the Dolphin, along with the ability to use the Maruti 12" tires. This fitted my intention of swapping in an Esteem g13b engine and gypsy king transmission perfectly, although that particular project never got past the mock-up and engine fitting phase (if anyone wants to know, yes the g13b fitted perfectly in the engine bay with minimal trimming to the firewall ).

My Dolphin is, I believe, a CKD from the UK judging from the quality of the GFRP bodywork and the engine castings etc., but of course I could be wrong about that. When I got the car, it had been lying in the owner's factory yard for many years, and understandably the interior and paint was in very rough shape. But mechanically the car was in good condition except for the brakes and the bodywork especially was pristine. The chassis had virtually zero rust. Instead of trying to source the difficult-to-find brakes, we simply swapped over the D1 parts and this allowed us to walk into any Maruti dealership and find brake parts for it. The D1 axle had a 3.23 ratio IIRC, and we swapped the 3.55 from the Dolphin to maintain driveability. I spent about a six months of my life working on this car, and it sure did teach me a lot!

The only things I didn't like about the car was the SU carb, the live axle leaf springs, and the lack of a 5 speed transmission. In the interim, we did change the carb to a Solex from a Fiat. And simply lived with the other shortcomings since it was such a fun car to drive. I have since driven a very wide variety of high performance vehicles in a professional capacity, but not one of them put as wide of a smile on my face as the first time driving the Dolphin. I would take it to the dirt track in Mysore and eventually learned how to drive it fast around the course. It was the first time I had ever driven something hard, and it was immensely rewarding in a way no other car at the time could've been (mainly due to the RWD and the low weight).

We also built another Dolphin as a low budget project for the Autocar Speedrun and Nandi hillclimbs with old Formula Indian parts that we had lying around. This was basically a Fiat 1100 race engine in which likely the only stock parts were the gaskets. Mated to a close ratio Standard Herald based transmission and stock rear axle. This car also never made it past the build stage although it might have been shockingly quick for its time, esp given its intentionally tattered appearance. It weighed only about 550kg after stripping all the unnecessary double wall fiberglass and street equipment away.

Anyway, that's my story for posterity .
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Old 20th August 2015, 07:25   #68
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Default Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

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Originally Posted by FINTAIL View Post
Thus ends the story of one of the lesser known Indian car makers.

They were wacky. Yes. They were weird. Yes. They were the best con-artists around. Yes. They could've taken on Maruti, but *chose* not to.

Ah! History would've been a lot different. A lot kinder, if you will............

But as they say- Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Let's quickly get over with the formalities:

A] All the opinions are of the author only. If found factually incorrect, they may be corrected. Particularly the HM R&D spend in the 'Sixties. I recall the amount to be ridiculously low- but cannot locate (or recall) the exact amount.

B] The facts have been presented on a as-is-best-known basis. Further points may be added, and discussed. No offence meant to anyone- or any party whomsoever.

C] All photo-credits- to the original authors. The pics were downloaded over a long period of time, and hence, recalling the original sources becomes difficult. In some areas- Text credits to Wikipedia and assorted websites.

D] I've tried to present authentic information, and to stay as neutral as possible. I haven't stated many points just to stay clear of unwanted controversy.

E] The forum rules have been complied.

F] If any bit of text or intellectual property is taken by any party for whatsoever purposes, due credits must be given to @FINTAIL/ www.Team-BHP.com

The last but definitely not the least - knowledge. Knowledge. Where would we all be without it?

After all, what is the use of knowledge if it cannot be shared?

And thus- The reason for making this thread.

P.S : I hope you enjoyed reading this!
Mate, Thanx for sharing such wonderful memories. Now I shall share my experiences with these cars though my father did not purchase one. I remember traveled a lot in Sipani Badal from Railway station to Home back in early 1980's. It was used as an autorickshaw.
Back in those days there were sizable number of Badal's in city railway station.
My school friend's mom had a Sipani Dolphin in which I have travelled about once or twice. To be frank it was a peppy vehicle and it did give Maruti 800 a run for it's money. But somehow I did not like the 2 door concept. If only the govt had supported such private players in the automobile segment, probably by now India would have had it's own R&D centre for designing and manufacturing cars in house rather than banking on foreign players.
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Old 20th August 2015, 09:39   #69
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Ah Sipani! I went to primary school with the owner's son (I think his name was Sunil Sipani). At the time I had no idea his family owned an automobile company! Only found out years later.

Also, a good friend of mine (who now lives in Canada) had a yellow Dolphin. His mum used to pick us up from school almost everyday, as we lived quite close to each other. I loved riding in the Dolphin, it was such a "cool" car in our eyes. All our classmates used to look at us when we got picked up in such a cool car!

The good old days!
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Old 9th May 2018, 13:54   #70
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Nice threat that turned me nostalgic about my Rover Montego 2.0 DLX. I'm not sure whether today's generation kids would even know such a car existed in India.

I was very proud to own this car for 2 years in Bangalore between 2005 and 2007...an used Rover Montego 2.0 DLX with an electric sunroof! Under the hood was the legendary Perkins Prima diesel engine, 2000 cc that gave 18 kmpl mileage in city. It was perhaps 3rd hand but fun to drive with a very peppy engine.

Originally from the UK called as Austin Montego. Came as CKD kits and assembled in Bangalore by defunct Sipani Automobiles...miss the car now.

Back then I was 26, I was much young, brash and impulsive! Somewhere I read (I think in one of those Life's Little Instructions book - it was quite popular then), at least once in a lifetime you should buy a car with sunroof...I knew I cannot afford a Merc/BMW/Audi, so started looking around for a realistic alternative...my teenage crush called Rover Montego 2.0 DLX flashed before my mind. The idea of owning a sunroof car soon became an obssession and I went on to buy an used Rover Montego with all bells and whistles - power steering, power windows (front doors), A/c, central locking, sunroof, stereo, digital clock, leather seats.

IMHO, the car was quite a looker (never fancied the Estate version called Countryman) among contemporary cars and it always made heads turn when I drove across Whitefield area and was kind of celebrity within ITPL (Tech Park) campus where absolute strangers (mostly techies) used to walk up to me with a smile enquiring about the car. I remember a colleague who had a more newer Opel Astra with sunroof was cut up that his sunroof doesn't work while mine was fit as a fiddle. Worse he had stuck the misaligned sunroof glass with brown tape which was an eye sore!

The car's design wasn't curvy but the straight cuts didn't make it look boxy either. Somehow, the design appealed to me and I liked the way it looked.

Believe it or not, thanks to the 18 kmpl mileage it offered, my monthly fuel bill was hardly Rs.400 p.m. as my commute to my office & back was just 4 kms a day!

What more can a young bachelor ask for - creature comforts + easy on pocket + a looker!

I also believe in one of my job interviews during that time, my prospective boss asked me what car I drive around. On hearing Rover Montego his eyes popped out and I have reasons to believe that the car too played its part in the job offer he made!!!

But on the flip side only I know what it takes to keep it running - spares which were invariably expensive, were a pain to get hold of coupled with dearth of reliable mechanics. As long as the car ran without issues it was absolute fun. You must feel the Turbo kicking in after 60 kms speed...pure bliss. It felt like the car was levitating, gliding over the road.

Finally, the passion wore off and I neither had the money nor the time/patience to maintain this car. Lessons learnt - when it comes to buying cars use your head not your heart! In hindsight no regrets, at least I have the experience (both good & bad) rather than living with an unfulfilled dream!

Sold after 2 years for a song :( and I felt "been there done that" specially for the sunroof aspect!

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the car. It was the popular maroon color. Even now if I get to see a rare Montego in the roads, I get nostalgic.

Rover Montego 2.0 DLX - Sweet memories, simply unforgettable!

Last edited by grkonweb : 9th May 2018 at 13:58.
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