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Old 3rd February 2010, 10:27   #1
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Default A tribute - Mahindra Scorpio

Nothing else will do

Back in 1992, at a tender age of 7, I was watching Chamatker in a Cinema Hall at Raipur, MP (Now CG).

While I couldn't recall the film's name again, a song definitely became my cult favorite-Yeh Bichu mujhe kaat khayega, being shot inside a train with the then new to Bollywood Shar Rukh Khan and Urmila Matondkar.

I asked my mom-is aadmi ka naam kya hai? SRK ya phir bichu? My mom told yeh sabse khatarnak bichu hai jo ladkiyon ko Chedta hai...


While we owned a 1994 Premier Padmini DX BU F/S (second Fiat after selling off a 1982 model), my dad, who used to look at sales at most of the army canteens (CSD-Canteen Stores Department) of Nestle India (he worked for Nestle from 1968 to 2006, before retiring gracefully at age 62) at various North Indian states like Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, and most of the time-UP and Rajasthan, had met with an accident driving a Jonga Jeep which he tried to drift somewhere in Jaipur and it toppled.

He came home, shaken but not stirred and I asked if everything was OK? He said yes. Out of a 30-day month, I only used to see him in the last 5 days because he was on tour covering all these areas and then came home, used to prepare reports etc. Those were the happiest days in my life. Those last 5 days of every month.

While the Padmini was driven very less, dad used to commute frequently to Rajasthan in a company provided Mahindra CL 550 and then an Armada, which he used to make a complete workhorse out of it by driving here, there, and at every possible road or terrain he could. And those "civilised beasts" never let him down.

Fall 1996, I decided to go with my dad to Rajasthan and since my mom declined to go with him (she preferred to stay back in Delhi) we decided to have a gala time. We had a month long Christmas vacation, and I was hitting sixes by scoring below than average marks in 6th grade, so we decided to pack bags and go in a Mahindra Armada, which was parked in front of my house. It's colour was white, but that day it turned brown thanks to lot of off-roading 3 days before....

7 AM, morning, December mid, 1996. We leave for Rajasthan trip, and a planned desert safari in an armada 4WD and I tell my dad, "zara sambhalkar chalana." Ye ek civilised rakshas hai. Iska koi Bharosa nahi hai.

It starts, leaving a trail of noise and smoke behind to wake up my padosis.

We cruise down NH 24 in time to catch NH 8 via gurgaon on the way to Jaipur and on reaching, I am amazed to see Mahindra Jeeps here, there and everywhere. The mountain goats mesmerized me and my dad told that these are based on old gen Willys chassis, and its stretched platform is also shared with the armada.

While staying on a hotel, our jeep develops a snag and refuses to start. So we are provided with a replacement vehicle, a marshal in blue colour, much crude looking but yet, its yet another jeep, as dismissed by me that time.

What made me a big fan of mahindra jeep brand in 1997 was when we embarked upon a desert safari in a CL 550 2 door soft top jeep which we hired from the base. 4WD engaged, it simply smothered whatever terrain, sand or any kind of obstacles that came in our path. My dad drove like a professional and thankfully I was not scared. I was sitting at the back, with the soft top chopped off, enjoying the dusty weather and on returning back after 5 hours of grueling safari, my whole body was full of dust that the hotel owner suggested his son to blow air from a vacuum cleaner!!!!!

With all the dust taken off from my body, I went for an evening bath. On sleeping, I was recalling that day again and again and beginning to wonder ki yeh jeep kya cheez hai, waah bhai waah!

While my dad was off to work in Udaipur, a Nestle distributer took me to a dealership of Mahindra and there I got a glance of some of the company's legendary jeeps-marshal, CL 550, MM 540 DP, armada, armada grand and a gleaming red classic was on display and when coming back in the evening, I asked my dad, when will we buy this classic jeep?

Dad lightly kicked my butt, and told me, pehle studies mein concentrate karo phir yeh gaadi kharidne ki baat karna mujhse. Case closed, point noted.

Cable TV was installed and in 1998 I was watching a game show, Surf Wheels of Fortune, on one of the channels, where the host Mohan Kapoor displayed a red Mahindra classic as a jackpot and even than I asked my mom to go and participate. Again, case closed...

Countless films showed Mahindra jeeps being used by police in catching the criminals and the more I saw, the more I liked it.

Fast Forward, Sometime in 1999.

An automobile magazine, cannot recall the name, carries out the first spy shots of a new Mahindra vehicle completely camouflaged. That time Mahindra heavily advertises its new vehicles-the New Generation NG armada grand, and commander hard top in typical Dharmendra style dialogue which catch my attention, thinking that something based on these may be under testing...

But its not. It something that started as a secret project in 1996 and is unlike this company has ever done in its glorious 50 year history.

It wants to celebrate its 50 years in 2002 by launching its first all new, all indigenous "modern" product ever in history, one that promises to change the image of the company.

A new flagship, it promises to be a game changer not only for that company, but its success story will change the dynamics of the Indian automobile market for years to come.

When we decided to see the complications associated against making cars, we decided not to make a car.

We wanted to make a product that would not only be benchmarked against competition in India, but also globally.

For this, we developed a completely new team, new design process, supplier driven developmental cycle and from conceptual stage to millions of kilometeres of testing, in July 2002, just in time of our 50th year celebration, we came out with our most modern and the most technically advanced product ever.

Because we believe in doing something different.

Follow me in a series of write ups live here on team-bhp as we pay tribute to one of the biggest success stories of a nameplate that changed the perception of this company forever.

From the beginning of the idea in 1996, till the present stage in 2010, I will take you to the entire story of this modern legend.

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Old 3rd February 2010, 10:56   #2
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Common SID, Keep it flowin'

Besides, MH-15 being my native place I feel proud to have seen the evolution of this brand pretty closely. So any M&M thread is very very close to my heart.

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Old 3rd February 2010, 11:15   #3
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Great, nostalgic write-up. Keenly waiting for more.

Could not understand the "bicchu kaat khayega" analogy though from the 1st post. Guess more to come on this.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 11:23   #4
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Sid - Could you be more specific on what this thread is all about - so we can change the title appropriately (in English).
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Old 3rd February 2010, 11:35   #5
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Originally Posted by v12 View Post
Sid - Could you be more specific on what this thread is all about - so we can change the title appropriately (in English).

Is it the Scorpio, Dear Sid?

EDIT - Post Title says is all....
Nothing else will do

Last edited by svsantosh : 3rd February 2010 at 11:37.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 11:42   #6
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A Legend called Scorpio

Brief facts:
  • The number of people in the team "project scorpio" were just 23.
  • average age of each person was between 27-32 years.
  • It is Mahindra's first all new self developed design since the company's inception, which that time assembled jeeps based on erstwhile willys chassis.
  • Just 50 prototypes were built, all were subject to a minimum of a million kilometers of testing in all kinds of terrain.
  • The Scorpio was conceptualized and designed by the in-house integrated design and manufacturing (IDAM) team of Mahindra.
  • Since M & M didn't have the technical know-how to make a new age product, they devised a whole new concept among Indian auto companies. Roping in new executives such as Dr. Pawan Goenka and Alan Durante who had worked in the auto industry in western countries, the company broke the rule that says automakers must design, engineer and test their own vehicles (spending millions of dollars in the process).
  • The new Mahindra Scorpio SUV had all of its major systems designed directly by suppliers with the only input from Mahindra being design, performance specifications and program cost.
  • Design and engineering of systems was done by suppliers, as was testing, validation and materials selection.
  • Sourcing and engineering locations were also chosen by suppliers.
  • The parts were later assembled in a Mahindra plant under the Mahindra Badge (as Mahindra is a well known brand in India in the MUV segment).
  • Using this method the company was able to build a from scratch a new vehicle with virtually 100 percent supplier involvement from concept to reality for $120 million, including improvements to the plant.
The project took 5 years to move from concept to final product.
More to come next.
(some excerpts from wikipedia and "the making of scorpio" brochure)
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A tribute - Mahindra Scorpio-028994.2lg.jpg  

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Old 3rd February 2010, 11:43   #7
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I think it is. It did start production in 2002.

And it won Best Car of the year as well from BBC

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd February 2010 at 12:13. Reason: Posts merged. Please use the EDIT button to add to an existing post within 20 minutes instead of posting another consecutive post. Thanks
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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:05   #8
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And M&M has never looked back. Newer versions, newer chassis systems, newer engines, the list is endless...
Sales are continuously on the rise and so is brand loyalty, this legend transformed M&M from a UV maker to a world class auto manufacturer and exporter.
Just a small snippet as proof of the above. My brother in law ( My elder cousin sister's husband) works for a South African Company in Bangalore and drives a WagonR on a daily basis. His CEO, a South African travels with him in his WagonR whenever they are together and I was with them the last time.

CEO: Why dont you buy a real car and dispose this toy?
BIL: This is a real car...
CEO: No, you know what is a real car, it is the Scorpio, Come to South Africa, there are plenty of them on the roads there.

That is where M&M is today, thanks to the Legend called Scorpio.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:10   #9
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The commencement of the project

In the mid 90s, the MUV/SUV market was dominated by players like the Tata Sumo, Tata Sierra and the Mahindra Armada, CL 550 DI, MM 540 DP, commander, classic, marshal etc.

A segment for a world class refined people mover was virtually non existent with all the aforementioned players, though quite competitive in their own right, were often crude and unrefined, more of a utility workhorse rather than a joint family luxury UV.

So, back at 1996 auto expo, Tata displayed its most sophisticated product, the Safari, complete with all the luxuries and creature comforts that we had never expected from a Tata product. Two years after, the company launched the vehicle in January 1998 in 4 X 2 and 4 X 4 versions, but it was priced at a premium, north of 8 lakh rupees. It was immediately labeled as a "poor man's Pajero" as it promised all the amenities that a Pajero had but at just 1/4th of the price of it.

So the concept was brilliant, it did show tata improving by leaps and bounds, from the crude sierra, estate and the then super successful sumo to a more luxurious and sophisticated SUV with all CAD/CAM design and manufacturing processes. But being a first mover also has its fair share of gremlins, as it showed in the early models of safari which were plagued by typical tata quality and reliability problems.

Mahindra, meanwhile, behind the curtains was leaving its no stone unturned in making its first all new product right in the first attempt itself. And that meant hiring the best people and suppliers from the world.

Pawan Goenka and Alan Durante were working in the western part of the world and their expertise was tapped by M and M. They were to head a totally new team full of young enthusiastic personalities, and people were hand picked from both of them, and were almost new to the industry that time.

Being young, energetic and enthusiastic also means big on fresh ideas and concepts. So, people aged between 27-32 years of average age were hand picked by these 2 gentlemen and the team number was kept relatively small, just about 23 members, so that these people fully concentrate on giving Mahindra its first global world class product, AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE.

Its main aim was to develop a completely new grounds up SUV that would bridge the gap between the MUVs and Tata Safari, had a decent compact size unlike the leviathan Safari and targeted towards city dwellers looking for image and lofty driving position, at the same time being relatively easy to drive and park, with a never before ownership experience.

It involved:
  • Designing of a completely new ladder frame chassis keeping in mind the abuse that owners will put it into and the harsh climatic conditions that our country has.
  • A completely new engine design which can be ran for about 3 lakh kilometers without overhaul, if properly maintained and serviced.
  • Tapping of global suppliers to design and engineer the exterior, interior, seats, dashboard, suspension, controls etc.
  • A new world class petrol motor was also on the plan.
But more emphasis was laid out on setting up a completely new chain of dealerships which would display M and M's new logo and would cater buyers with a world class sales and service infrastructure, totally different from what buyers of mahindra jeeps have experienced before.

But on paper, its easier said than done. However, this team was determined to achieve and hence, the project was progressing as planned.

Wanna know how? find out next...
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Last edited by sidindica : 3rd February 2010 at 12:13.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:18   #10
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Nice one sid. Also now that M&M is planning on its US expansion, we can be optimistic about the future!
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Old 3rd February 2010, 12:58   #11
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Well said Sid. The Scorpio totally changed the SUV market scene in India and M&M has not looked back since.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 19:58   #12
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Design and engineering

Mahindra vehicles always had a reputation of true workhorses-solid, reliable go anywhere vehicles which can take any abuse with elan, whichever is thrown at it.
But there were 2 major turnoffs-refinement that is expected from a joint family SUV and fit and finish, as these old jeeps were built using ancient manufacturing processes.
So, the project engineers have to adopt a completely new approach to vehicle design, manufacturing and roll out process and keeping this in mind, robotised assembly line tooling was imported from Austria to set up an all new assembly line at its integrated manufacturing facility in Nasik.
Same goes for dyes, also imported from Europe.
The Scorpio was the company's first ever CAD (Computer Aided Design) design which will also use CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) processes for best quality build, fit and finish.
In order to ensure superb body strength, precision of build and finish, Mahindra heavily used CAD process before finalizing the exterior mock up clay model, sometime in 1997.
While I cannot recall who designed the vehicle (inputs can be added by fellow bhpians here), the final design had to reek style, attitude and street presence aimed at lifestyle buyers on a budget while keeping all core Mahindra attributes "tougher than the toughest" intact.
For achieving this, a completely new ladder frame chassis was designed. Mahindra deliberately went against a monocoque structure due to two reasons:
  • First, the vehicle had to pass all the abuse that we people put into it, be it more people, load or any other sorts of paraphernalia etc.
  • Second, ladder frame is more simpler to manufacture and cost effective, besides being more durable and reliable but that meant a very heavy kerb weight also.
So, for a strong body shell, a strong motor also had to be designed. Any idea of modifying an existing motor was immediately turned off.

A new heavy duty cast iron cylinder block and head with a high pressure direct injection motor, codenamed SZ 2600 was designed completely new from rounds up. The block had to be strong enough for everyday pressures that owners would put into with all sorts of driving and at the same time, it was designed for a class best 0-100 performance. And more emphasis was laid down on high bottom end torque rather than outright performance.
While power ratings of 109 bhp may seem unimpressive from a big bore 2600 cc motor, its peak torque of 250 Nm IIRC was more than impressive and gear ratios-short for initial and medium for higher gears was tuned to extract the best out of this motor.
Initial design also favoured leaf spring suspension and it was finalized for a couple of reasons:
  • One, the bad condition of roads meant that the vehicle had to glide over all major potholes and expansion ridge ruts and manhole covers.
  • Second, other than being cost effective to manufacture, it is also easy to repair given the lack of competence of our typical mechanics in late 90s.
  • But it also had a drawback-sloppy ride and handling, at least on paper.
How did the engineers cope up with the challenge?
And how long, when and where were the tests carried out?
Find out next..

(pic courtesy motorbeam)
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 3rd February 2010, 20:02   #13
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Very true, the scorpio has truly changed the market. Great write up.
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Old 3rd February 2010, 20:17   #14
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@sid a quick clarification: Scorpio couldn't have been M&M's 50th Year presentation as the company was incorporated as Mahindra & Muhammed in 1945 and then changed to Mahindra & Mahindra in 1948

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Old 3rd February 2010, 20:36   #15
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Honestly, I was never a fan of the Scorpio due it's poor ride and handling. But over the years the improvements Mahindra has made and the features added have made it a very good Value For Money SUV. From a Scorpio hater, I ended up booking a 4WD with Airbags a month back. I am a converted Safari fan...
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