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Old 6th May 2008, 14:41   #1
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Default The Premier Automobiles Ltd - The Remembrances Thread

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
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Old 6th May 2008, 15:36   #2
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Dear Behram Dhabhar,

Your sentiments about PAL are understandable - you worked there for many years. However, IMHO, a company like PAL and the people who ran it deserve no sympathy. The Company started manufacturing cars less than a decade after Toyota commenced auto production. Can you compare the two today? Forget Toyota, can you compare PAL with Tata Motors that commenced auto production a full decade after PAL did and operated in the same license-permit raj? The only reason Premier managed to sell its cars was the absence of competition. Its CVs didn't do well in the market because there WAS competition from Ashok Leyland and Tata Motors whose CVs were much better. PAL's Dodge trucks and buses were notorious for frequent breakdowns and were shunned by SRTCs and transporters alike.

It's amusing to learn PAL even had an R&D centre. What new products did the R&D centre invent or come out with? I suspect the company must have been getting some tax or other benefit for opening one. That's the reason a lot of Indian companies opened these so-called R&D centres.

My apologies if I've hurt your sentiments. May be there are other sides to the story that I'm ignorant of. If you are in the know, please do let us know.

Best wishes,

Mahendra Singh
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Old 6th May 2008, 15:56   #3
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Good riddance to bad rubbish, PAL i.e. Sorry , Sir, but i don't share your fond memories. I remember that my hard working parents had to spend their hard earned money to buy less than poor rubbish on wheels produced by this company and spend even more on repairs and maintenance. A wretched enterprise that has met it's rightful place, is my opinion. The same wretched family that was responsible for the state of affairs of this country then , continues to have a hand in the affairs of this country even today. That is why we are quite 'not there' yet. PAL represented all that was/is wrong with our country. Nothing personal, but you were part of the same system. I am willing to change my opinion.........

Last edited by Technocrat : 6th May 2008 at 16:20. Reason: Lets not get personal here
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:06   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickatnite View Post
Good riddance to bad rubbish
Unfortunately, these were the exact words that make to mind when I read the thread.

Behram, You may have learnt a lot of things in the 10 years you were there. Thats a different thing compared to experiencing their products..

That said, my family (maternal side) had been quite loyal to PAL. My late grandpa had a 118 NE and a Fiat Siena. And I think he had lost his booking amount trying to book the Pug 307!! We still have a second hand Padmini diesel doing duty as a second car.
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:09   #5
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Originally Posted by nickatnite View Post
What did you do to change things as they were?. I am willing to change my opinion.........
My view, first of all let's not get personal here brother. I agree that PAL didn't do great guns but it did give wheels to India and lakhs of Indians. The company is dead but its products are a testimony of how some things look nice when the time passes. I cannot see mumbai without those yellow black taxi's however bad they might be. The company too tried to change with time by having JV's with Fiat and Peugot. However, the strike at its plant ensured that the company could never recover from the losses. I am sure that even today there would be thousands who might be waiting for the refund amount towards the car that they booked when the strike started.

A very debatable topic just like the Nano!
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:10   #6
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Dear Directinjection (Mr.Mahendra Singh),

Sir, you have not hurt my sentiments at all, please do not worry. However, I have started this thread not with any intention of getting into any controversy over what happened to the company etc. I would like this thread to be used to share any and all automotive experiences that people may have had during whatever interaction they had with this company. That's all. I will share all my experiences also.

On your question that PAL even had an R&D centre, I would like to comment that in order to understand what all R&D does, it is necessary to know that product engineering backup is an absolute essential to run an automobile manufacturing business and in this area, we were very strong. I am sure that this would surprise you. I will give all details slowly (I have to type a lot which I will do when I am at home and then cut and paste here). Please excuse till then.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:18   #7
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@Behram Dhabhar,

Sir, I can understand your sentiments and you expressed it very well, buttt.....

Though it may be of no use now, since you (were) an insider, can you tell us something about reasons behind the flop show? For e.g. why on earth the RnD failed to redesign even the ashtray?

Kindly note that I am not flamming you; autopsies do help, right?

Last edited by sandeepmdas : 6th May 2008 at 16:21.
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:20   #8
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i was studying at the Holy Cross School right opposite the PAL. I was used to see new Padminis earlier being transported on trucks.. black ones being readied for taxis and later the brand new Uno's going aroudn.. but now it has been gone for ever and some new Kohinoor Complex is coming up on that place.

Sad to some extent to see PAL go.
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:20   #9
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Wow - thank you Amtak, Spadival, Nickatnite and Directinjection, this thread seems to have generated a healthy debate. I appreciate your comments. Let's put down all our thoughts for all to share.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:30   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
I would like this thread to be used to share any and all automotive experiences that people may have had during whatever interaction they had with this company. That's all. I will share all my experiences also............. I will give all details slowly (I have to type a lot which I will do when I am at home and then cut and paste here).
I've had no interaction with PAL although I've travelled much in Fiat 1100/President/Padmini. As a kid I always preferred Ambassador over Fiat 1100. Please do write about your experiences with PAL since you've had a different kind of relationship with them.
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:41   #11
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On a personal note (and a little off the topic)...

I always dreamt (still do) of taking a Padmini cheaply and strip it...

Then redo the full thing just the same way they rework some classics in Europe...

Unfortunately my budget forces me to wait for the Nano patiently and just dream when I see a well maintained Padmini!
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:48   #12
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Originally Posted by Trapezio View Post
On a personal note (and a little off the topic)...

I always dreamt (still do) of taking a Padmini cheaply and strip it...
Then redo the full thing just the same way they rework some classics in Europe...
I too am in the same frame of mind
Want to buy a Premier Padmini and make it into a convertible, work a little on the looks etc etc....

Vitamin -M is the inhibiting factor here.
Not sure when I would be able to sorth that....Let's see time will only tell..
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Old 6th May 2008, 16:58   #13
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Dear Trapezio and God's envy - please see the vintage and classic cars in India thread. You will see all my fiat cars there. Happy browzing.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 6th May 2008, 17:02   #14
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Originally Posted by gods-envy View Post
Want to buy a Premier Padmini and make it into a convertible, work a little on the looks etc etc....
I have seen one car like that... My only worry was the rigidity of the vehicle...

There was a time when Padminis looked cool. I still remember when I saw the first Padmini with plastic hubcaps with tiny vertical slits...!

My reaction... "Wow... That looks modern...!"

Whether we like it or not... Premier played a major role in the industry's initial days...
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Old 6th May 2008, 17:07   #15
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I am very happy that PAL closed down.
We had a 118NE which was such a problem child that our Indica V1 seemed like a pinnacle of german engineering.
Non-Availability of parts, niggling problems, major problems etc., etc., were a real pain, but my father was not ready to sell of the car as it did not have any resale value and at that time it was a lot of money invested.
So we just trudged on till I crashed the car into a divider and bent the tie rods etc.,
The damage was not much, but even simple parts were not available and it took 50 days for the car to come back to us.
The actual repair job took just 2 days.

A few months after that we sold the car for scrap money(Even that was quite bit of money for this junkpile).
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