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Old 8th May 2008, 10:37   #46
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So much has already been said on this superb thread, Im left with nothing to contribute but a 5 star rating from my side

Behram, you remember BMF 7649 (now owned by Fiat India) very well. Was it also belonging to Premier earlier? Plus I this spotted this intact 850 lying sorry in a corner. I presume it was part of Premier as well? I presume it was under consideration when India's big 3 were asked to submit prototypes for a small car.

The Premier Automobiles Ltd - The Remembrances Thread-50005.jpg

The Premier Automobiles Ltd - The Remembrances Thread-85001.jpg
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Old 8th May 2008, 10:40   #47
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Originally Posted by ram View Post
The company was SAB (for Starline Auto Builders). They were located at Tardeo, Bombay. The estate car was called the Premier Safari.
You got it right. SAB it was!
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Old 8th May 2008, 11:32   #48
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Very interesting thread Mr Dhabhar,

I remember that my dad was doing some work for the PAL plant and he wanted to take me there to see everything - but i was too young at the time since the minimum age for visitors was 12 years of age IIRC. I never did get to see the plant.

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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Premier Padmini 137D (with the 1366 cc FNM derived diesel engine - origins in the VW Golf)
At the time when i was still fairly young and deeply and utterly in love with the Tata Sierra, we purchased a 137D.
It was white. I think that was the only color option at that time.
I think the only legal way to own this car at the time was to have red circles saying "TOURIST TAXI" - on each of the front doors. (embarrasing!)
We had to be very careful not to take the car out if it was a Bombay bandh that day.

The car was stolen from outside our house a few months after we got it. I cant say i was very dissapointed at the time.

cya
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Old 8th May 2008, 11:59   #49
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Dear Karl - thanks a million, no thanks 100 million to you. What recognition I could not get at PAL for 10 long years, you gave me in one minute. This was one of the underlying reasons why I have now restored 3 cars the way they ought to have been in the first place and also why I love the Fiat Classic Car Club so much, I can tell you today. You have made my day. On BMF7649, yes, the car aways belonged to PAL. I saw it first inside the service station in December 1976 when I joined as a college trainee. It was white in colour and Mr.Nariman would start it once a month, take a small round and park it. Incidentally, your photograph is taken after 1994, originally there used to be a model of the Kurla plant where BMF7649 is standing. The staircase was classic wooden railings, not modern as in the photograph. On the 850 MRZ1675, it was with a rear engine. I never saw it running. It was always like this. There were 2 more, MRJ381 was a white Fiat 124 which was running and MRJ382 was a light green Fiat 128 front wheel drive which I serviced once, got royally smeared with grease doing so and got fired by my mother for spoiling one set of clothes (but I learnt what it takes to service a car). There were a lot of other cars, I will give details in this thread shortly.

Dear GTO - thank you and God bless you and your fantastic team of moderators for starting teamBHP. You have fulfilled one of my life's ambitions today.

Dear all teamBHPians - there is nothing more to say. When I saw the 5 stars next to the thread heading, I was like knocked over for sometime. You all are a fantastic bunch of enthusiasts and it would be my pleasure to help you all in any which way I can. You only have to ask.

Please accept my best personal regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 8th May 2008, 12:08   #50
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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
I was supposed to write letters to "all concerned" having coded designations like SREXICASS (Senior Executive Incharge After Sales Service), DDM (Design and Development Manager), PTM (Product Testing Manager), MVP (Manager Vehicle Proving), SVP (Superintendent Vehicle Proving) etc etc. and the mighty heavens would crush me if the seniority sequence was not followed to the tee. The funniest part was that I was supposed to mention all past references to this topic with the earliest reference put on top (the heavens would again ---- if I deviated). The content of the letter had to go like this without exception, otherwise the heavens ----- "Vide our letter ref 2 above, we had -----. Vide your letter ref 4 above, you have -----. Further to your reply, vide our letter ref 5 above, we had given our comments -----. My the then boss (no names) edited my complete letter and fired the hell out of me for not writing "vide our letter ref" etc etc.
.. Sounds like PAL India management consisted of Vogans from the movie "The hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy".
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Old 8th May 2008, 12:11   #51
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Dhabar-ji,

You've revived some very fond memories of my Dad's cars in me. He was an avid car guy himself, and I grew up working alongside him on his cars..

We used to stay in Gandhidham - Kutch, where new cars were a rarity in the early 70s.. My Dad had a midas touch to find some really good cars and restore them.

In his list of cars were 3 fiats.

GJX 6358 / APV 7997 - a Fiat 1100. I suspect this was a 1967-68 model. Lovingly restored to its pristine glory and painted a Krilo Olive Green. This was by far the best car he owned.

A White Premier President. Suspect it to be a import from Mumbai.. I dont have many memories of this, as I had moved to Vadodara for studies.

GTU 595 - Premier President. White color. Another gem of a car. I used to have a blast driving this around.

All cars were stock, with no modifications.

A distinct feature of cars in the 70's and 80's I remember was the typical sunshade ? attached to the windscreen.. was suppose to be for aesthetic purpose and also gave protection against glare from the sun!

Question for you: Some fiats had a tendency to 'sit' or 'incline towards the back without any load.. I always used to wonder why.. Is this the suspension/leaf spring issue or something else.. I remember this distinctly because both GJX6358 and GTU 595 did not have this, whereas the other fiat did slouch to the back.. ( one of the reasons I didn't like it , and dont have many memories ! )
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Old 8th May 2008, 12:17   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
On BMF7649, yes, the car aways belonged to PAL. I saw it first inside the service station in December 1976 when I joined as a college trainee. It was white in colour and Mr.Nariman would start it once a month, take a small round and park it. Incidentally, your photograph is taken after 1994, originally there used to be a model of the Kurla plant where BMF7649 is standing. The staircase was classic wooden railings, not modern as in the photograph. On the 850 MRZ1675, it was with a rear engine. I never saw it running. It was always like this. There were 2 more, MRJ381 was a white Fiat 124 which was running and MRJ382 was a light green Fiat 128 front wheel drive which I serviced once, got royally smeared with grease doing so and got fired by my mother for spoiling one set of clothes (but I learnt what it takes to service a car). There were a lot of other cars, I will give details in this thread shortly.
I had taken these pictures a couple of years ago, when we at the Club had visited MD Giovanni dPhillipis at Kurla. Im glad I got to visit the plant just before it was demolished. Im told the 600 has been moved to Ranjangaon, and I was also told it was submerged in the 06 floods. I dread to think what happened to the 850 and others, I assume they have been scrapped, as I doubt they were shifted to Ranjangaon.
Looking forward to details on the cars they owned.
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Old 8th May 2008, 12:37   #53
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Thank you Mr. Dhabar for starting this thread, and thanks for the detailed list of Padmini models. I still drive my MZV 5214 as a second car. In fact, I just took it out this morning to drop the family (5+1 people in the car and 4 suitcases + 3 handbags in the boot!) to the railway station, as my Zen VXi cannot take more than 5 persons and a suitcase.

My dad bought the Padmini second-hand in '94, but I still cannot figure out which model mine is. It is an '87 production, has bench seats, chrome bumpers, reverse lights (though they are operated by a switch under the dash, so may be an after-market fitment), white indicator covers in the front, chrome beading on the front windshield and aluminum beading on the rear glass. The lettering on the boot lid just says Premier Padmini on the left side and no monogram on the left side of the boot lid. I have a hunch that it is a PP Economy. Any ideas?

I had it repainted and re-upholstered 4 years ago, but I want to do it again, this time to its original specs. I need the steering combination switch (the one with chrome stalks, both on the right side. If anyone has one, please let me know. I also had a second-hand AC fitted in it last year, with a Sanden 507 compressor and a Palm Air?? blower, and the cooling is chilling! I had to shift the battery to the other side to accommodate the compressor and had to fit a larger radiator from a diesel Padmini to compensate for the extra heat.

That said, the Padmini is a work horse and very simple and cheap to maintain. I love the exhaust note and the fact that it can go as slow as you want and pull any load in 3rd gear. I have taken the car off-road on my countless birdwatching trips and countless trips to Pench Tiger reserve and have touched 120 kmph (speedo reading) in it on quite a few occasions. It still gives me 11 kmpl.

I love my Premier Padmini!
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Old 8th May 2008, 13:24   #54
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Well Karl - let me see now - we had the following cars in R&D:
MMY2122 - yellow VW golf diesel, the original car from where FNM engine was derived
MMY2292 - white Fiat Ritmo
MMY2299 - white Peugeot 305 front wheel drive with a unique 90 degree turnaround cooling fan belt as there was no electric fan
MMY6234 - originally imported brand new, left hand drive yellow Seat 124 especialle with Italian Pirelli tyres - my favoutite to this day - not used for 9 years, all Pirelli tyres flat, eventually had a tree growing through it
MMY6092 - imported used, maroon with black vinyl top Seat 124 converted by us from LHD to RHD with a Padmini engine and transmission and link operated clutch floor shift
MMY4975 - imported used, dark blue Seat 124 converted by us from LHD to RHD fitted with the first ever Nissan A12 engine and Nissan f$w56A transmission, was our first prototype car which I tested extensively in VRDE. The original Nissan gear lever was chromeplated and the knob was in smooth polished finish. All subsequent gearboxes came from Nassan with the black gear lever.
MMY5219 - white Seat 124 converted by us from LHD to RHD, fitted with the Mazda engine and transmission, tested extensively by us to decide between Nissan, Mazda and Fiat 131 engines for the new car project, finally named as 118NE.
BMN110/C - unregistered. This was the trade plate (the red testing plate) - white Seat 124 converted from LHD to RHD fitted with a Fiat 131 especiale engine and transmission
Unregistered - originally imported brand new, left hand drive green Seat 124 especialle, parked inside the assembly line in Kalyan plant with strict instructions not to dismantle, only to be used as a master car.
MMY3304 - white Ambassador, purchased for comparison
MAS180 - white Maruti 800 (1984) purchased for comparison - a beauty - last seen in horrible condition lying on the road in Ghatkopar
MMY8054 - Maroon Nassan Sunny 1300 cc, imported in 1984 with standard trim. I adapted the fuel filter mounting bracket for the S1 from this car
MMY8055 - Light blue Nissan Sunny Station Wagon with DX trim
MAM5139 - white Nissan Sunny, used by directors
MAM817 - white Nissan Laurel 6 cylinder automatic used by MD. I drove it @ 160 kmph outside Konkan Bhavan, last seen lying as scrap outside Spectra Motors, Malad
MZM7245 - first Kalyan plant made 118NE in 1986 before the 118 name was given to the car, red colour, features on 118NE drivers' instruction books, brochures, used for advertisement in 1985, used
MZM7247 - 2nd 118NE, used for PAVE test at VRDE Ahmednagar
MZM7250 - 3rd 118NE, used for mixed circuit testing from Kurla to Wada and back (500 kms/day)
MZM7256 - 4t 118NE in a horrible popat green colour, used for highway endurance
MMY4842 - white PP Deluxe car 1089 cc 8:1 CR prototype
MMY5038 - white PP Deluxe 1221 cc prototype (this was a bomb but gave 7 kmpl)
MMY5039 - white first production FNM Diesel prototype
MMY6465 - cream PP with 995 cc engine prototype
MMY6058 - brown PP with 1089 cc prototype for LPG project (kit was never fitted)
MAM657 - cream PP standard
MAM4167 - PP convertible. Only one ever made. Very unique. My colleague Rajaram worked on it.
MAM2537 - white PP Deluxe BE first prototype with factory fitted AC
MAM5230 - white PP Deluxe BE second prototype with factory fitted AC
MAM9507 - white PP sent to AVL for S1 project
MAM9975 - Grey PP Deluxe BE AC. The first ever PPO car converted to run on CNG in India in February 1990 by yours truly in ONGC Baroda
MGQ8174 - my favourite - a brown 118NE used for the Himalayan Rally service in 1987, route survey in 1988 and service in 1988 with 4.3:1 axle ratio - last seen in white colour in scrap condition - how I wish I can buy it and restore it. I covered 1171 kms in one day in it (24 April 1988). All fuel system development was done on this car.
MH03A60 - blue PP first R&D car having MH03 serial number, first Nissan transmission column shift prototype
MH03A2197 - white PP - very unique - sent to AVL and recieved back, fitted with S2 engine. The only car ever to have the S2 engine in it. Beautifully made by AVL.
MH03B2917 - white PP standard, second CNG prototype
MH03A1041 - the very first white Uno Selecta imported for the project, with a vario drive.

Then I left the company. I don't know what was shifted to Ranjangaon. How' that ? More to come.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 8th May 2008, 13:50   #55
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Behram,

What is the S2 engine?? Pray tell

Vijay
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Old 8th May 2008, 15:00   #56
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Dhabar Saheb,

Do you remember Jasmine Industries which used to supply cast parts to PAL ? The door handles and things like that ?

Do revert.

Cheers

Manish
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Old 8th May 2008, 15:02   #57
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Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Hello to all. It is after a lot of thought that I finally decided to start this thread. I was passing by Ghatkopar in suburban Mumbai when my driver took the road from Vidyavihar station coming out at Kurla due to chaotic traffic at Ghatkopar. This road passes next to the wall of the once existing Premier Automobiles Ltd. As I worked there for 10 years, old memories suddenly filled me and I told my driver to stop the car. I got down at the original main gate and I was not surprised (because I knew it had been sold), but I was saddened by what I saw. The dark blue metal gates still existed with PAL written on them but that's about all. Everything from there onwards has changed. I thought of taking a photograph of the gate with my mobile camera but then decided against it. The sales building and the staff colony are gone forever. I then took the car back on the same road and saw that the Walchand Hirachand Research Centre (which was the name of my department - R&D) was gone too. So was the service station where I learnt almost everything I know about cars. I could see the empty shells of the canteen building and the main building still standing, as well as some portion of the paint shop and the assembly line. I stood for 2 minutes and moved away. A glorious institutional legacy wasted away.

I request all team BHPians to please post any remembrances that they may like to share regarding PAL in this thread. I will share many of them.

I request the moderators to please put this thread in an appropriate section (maybe in the vintage and classic cars section) as I do not know how to do it. By chance it is in the travelogues section now.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar

DHABHAR.BEHRAM: Sir, I sense your nostalgia and loss over the place you called 'home' for that length of time, and entirely empathise.
Whatever PAL might have stood for, whatever they achieved (or didn't), however poorly they compared with a slew of manufacturers that overtook them, they have their place in our country's motoring history, as they do with stalwarts such as yourself who were joined at the hip with them and undoubtedly contributed in no small manner to helping them get as far as they did.

Memories are a strong thing and worth treasuring, and I admire -indeed, am blown away- by your words from the heart.
The Company might have fizzled out without any fanfare, but there are heaps of us still around not swayed by the dazzling hegemony of chrome Japs and Czechs and Swedes and whatnot who've invaded our motoring scene- and I'm in no way saying they aren't welcome, just that we need not wipe our history slates clean just because we have new visitors.

Our family owned a Fiat ages ago and we have happy memories attached too. Nice to know you might have been responsible via the R&D for some touches in her.

Thanks, Sir.

RG
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Old 8th May 2008, 18:57   #58
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Sweet thread.

We bought a brand new Premier Padmini S1 in 1996 and had it until 2007. This had the AVL tuned engine with a 48 bhp output and had an alternator (this was actually advertised as a feature). No A/C, no power steering, no bucket seats, no NE gearbox but was still a hoot to drive. The car also came with control stalks borrowed from the Maruti parts bin, I guess.

The car could touch 120 kph with ease (although it took some time getting there). Braking was good but not a patch on cars with front discs. Suspension was suspect.

Our car saw many trips on the highway - this used coolant so we didn't have to stock water for the radiator. Oh and by the way, the OEM Exide on this lasted until 2004. The only 'mods' on the car were seat covers and sun film. We did get an RHS ORVM but it got smashed in an accident.

One of the rare cars where you can see all the 4 ends of the car and park perfectly under any circumstance. And that exhaust note was to die for!

Let me check if I can scan and post photos of this Padmini - the queen of the road.

My father has a history of FIATS / Padminis - he owned one in the 70s as well. Will see if details are available with him.

Last edited by hrag : 8th May 2008 at 18:59.
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Old 9th May 2008, 23:22   #59
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Great thread behram sir!! Though my father never owned a fiat, My grandmothers sister used to own one. It was a 1967(?) 1100D. Was some sort of a grey if i remember correctly. I always thought it was PP with a funny grille!! It was sold in 1996 and she got a 118NE. the car lay idle after her death and was sold for a pittance around a year back.


In kerala, there used to be horrible delays for the fiats, and a story i've heard from many here is that when a girl child joined college, her parents would book a fiat, coz the car would arrive by the time she passes out and gets married, to be given as dowry!!

p.S: what was the S2 all about?
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Old 10th May 2008, 00:19   #60
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Awesome thread Behram sir. Your writing shows the love you had for the place which was like a second home to you. You brought back the memories of me learning to drive in the Premier Padmini when i was 16 years old. My dad even today swears by this car and he even likes the smaller version of the car with the rounded boot. Since the time i was born till i was close to 18 years, I have only been driven around in a Fiat car. First it was the old Fiat with the rounded boot(sorry, dont know the exact name) which had the front doors opening in the opposite direction to the ones we have now. Then the 1967 Premier Padmini which my grandfather passed onto my dad. My dad spent close to 1lakh to get the latest leather seats and upholstery and full tinkering and repainting, got rid of the cut glass and made it resemble the marutis of that time and also got the dynamo removed and got an alternator fitted, new tyres et all. The car was with us till the odo reading was 98k kms. This was after 1lakh kms that is. So it lasted us nearly 2lakh kms. My dad was also very crazy about cars and travelling, so my mom and dad just used to take off on that long drive at the snap of a finger. Later on sold the car and my dad again went in for a Fiat Premier Padmini which is a 1990 model. That served us for nearly 60k kms, I grew up to be 6'0 tall, could not drive Fiat Premier Padmini due to constraints of not being able to adjust the seats... Finally dad got convinced and changed over to a Maruti 800 (was not very comfy to drive that as well due to my height, but was much better) From then on various cars of various brands and finally now a Tata indica and M800.

But the 18-19 years spent in a premier padmini is unforgettable. That too since that was the first car i drove and learnt to drive in as well. Thanks for bringing back the memories with this awesome thread.
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