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Old 24th September 2010, 17:47   #1
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Default What happens to old cars (& bikes)?

Last couple of weeks, I was staying in forced isolation. Mobile phone was luxury. TV was gathering dust. No laptop / computer - so there is no question of a net connection. Only company was some books (those were old too!) and (old) friends.

Mode of transportation (to the town) was restricted to the odd bus going by.

Amidst all the talk, the topic of cars and bikes came up (of course!). When the topic of concentration was the slew of new models, it struck me - what happens to all the cars which get old?


I grew up seeing cars like these -
Standard (Herald), Gazelle, Fiat (1100), Ambassador (Mark II?), Premier (Padmini).

The newer models comprised of Contessa (launched as Classic ), Rover 2000, Dolphin. There was even a three wheeled car. (The bikes were Bullet, Rajdoot and Yezdi).


How many of them do we see on the road nowadays? Except the odd Amby and Premier, practically none. (Only the Bullet survives)


While some must be running (or resting) with due care and restoration, what about the others? (like the one in picture). For example, wouldn't there have been at least 10,000 Fiat 1100s sold and running circa 80s? What would be number now? What happened to the rest?

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I still remember -
a. the hand operated gear in the Amby and 1100. So when HM switched over to the floor mounted gear shift, it was a development!

b. the switch mounted on the floor near the clutch - to flash (hi/lo) beams of the headlight! You had to operate it with your toe!!

c. The quarter glass on the front door of the Amby which could be opened!!!

d. The sunshade on the front windshield (like the one in the picture)!!!!


I am sure that the (hand built) quality of these machines would be far superior - with due allowance to be given for the technology used today for building automobiles.


So, what happens to all these old cars (and bikes)? Especially the engines and parts? (the rest of the body being sheet metal parts can be recycled, I guess). Any ideas?


May be some enthusiast / philanthropist can start automobile museum dedicated to the generations of automobiles, so that our children can understand and appreciate things we grew up with..... or is there already one?


Mods - I could see only one thread on the cars driven by our Dad's. If a similar thread exists, please merge.
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Old 24th September 2010, 18:17   #2
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nice thread ! you spoke my mind there. Forget the really old cars, even relatively( well 7-8 years old) new bikes like 1st and 2nd generation pulsar, the hero honda CBZ are no way to be found , those models sold in their thousands every month and one could find them pretty easily on the roads but these days all i can see are the new generation pulsars . Its as if everyone of those previous owners have replaced with a new generation.
And among cars all those 1st gen santros , zens and palios are pretty rare now. I know they scrap 6-7 year old cars in developed countries but do they do that in india too?

Last edited by amulu10 : 24th September 2010 at 18:18.
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Old 24th September 2010, 19:53   #3
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IMO Indian road conditions / pollution / driving conditions / low quality fuel break down a car pretty fast.

The usual route is 1st owner->2nd owner->(max) third owner ->sold for parts

But cars in US last long and the running notion that everyone changes their cars after 5-6 years is a myth. All of my clients either drive new cars on lease or drive 7/8 year old cars. But the population of cars is so huge that the percentage of people who change their cars each year is a huge number. You can also get relatively new (2/3 year old with low/medium mileage ) used cars at a very good rate.

I bought my 1998 Mazda 626 in US (2009) when it had already ran 81000 miles (130000 kms) and was over 10 years old. It is still running without much fuss with my old roomie and has clocked over 115000 miles (185000 kms).
Would you dare buy a petrol sedan which is 10 years old and has clocked 100k+ kms in India?

Last edited by blackasta : 24th September 2010 at 19:55.
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Old 24th September 2010, 20:12   #4
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IMO, it all depends on the owner who owns such a vehicle. There're quite a few professional restorers in this forum who maintain several decade old vehicles still in top notch. Talking apart from professionals, there're quite a few people who maintain their Jawa & Yezdi still in mint condition.

I personally have restored my 19 years old Rx to factory fit & finish about a month ago to have given a new life to it. A neighbour of mine, who's 70+ owns a 67 Rajdoot & rides everyday which is kind of OK for everyday use of upto 5-6 Kms. If left unattended, I'm sure that's going to get dusted.
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Old 24th September 2010, 20:39   #5
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Most of the old cars that are not in use are broken down and sold as spare parts/metal scraps. I have withnessed the whole process in Chennai. The process is to get a RTO approval (endorsement on RC) that the vehicle is getting scrapped. The scrap dealer will buy the car at a lower price from the owner. Then he proceeds to break down the car. He will take away the useful parts and the rest will be junked to metal scraps. Most of the second hand parts market thrives on these parts. You can see accident vehicles which are declared as total loss by the insurance companies in these lots.

I must agree that its painful to see the process of dismantling the car. It takes a half day work for two people to dismantle the car. They take everything including bumper clips, wiring kits, fenders to undamaged front glass. By the time they start to dismantle the car, the dealer will start calling others from the spare market trade about the model of the vehicle he acquired and they will line up to take away the parts as they come out of the car.

Last edited by ElantraGT : 24th September 2010 at 20:41.
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Old 24th September 2010, 20:54   #6
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We had a 1984 Fiat (PP) ,it was scrapped in 2002 .The dealer paid 10K for the entire car,towed to his scarp yard and was totaly dismantled.

Ones need's RTO's approval or something for the same and i remember my dad bringing home the twisted number plate which was taken off the car.

I guess that's what happens to most all the cars once they get old.They are taken apart and sold as spares.
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Old 24th September 2010, 20:57   #7
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As ElantraGT stated, its teh most common way practiced by the scrappers who have contacts and people bidding for the parts required by them.
The other mindset which scrappers have is of "the fast turnover". Many bits which are picked as bulk, like horns, meters, headlamps, et al, are kept safely and all the other parts including the glasses are smashed to pieces.
I have personally witnessed scrapping of cars like M800, esteem, Fiats, cielo. Time taken is nearly 4hrs max with 2 labours.As pointed out each and every part is sold as scrap even the engine is hacked to pieces. The most precious parts which yield good money are Brake boosters, power steering assembly(if any) etc.
So all in all nothing is wasted.
De registration is the term used for the cars to be scrapped. Once this paper work is done, the car can only be purchased as a parts/donor car.

Last edited by samsag12 : 24th September 2010 at 21:00.
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Old 25th September 2010, 10:49   #8
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All our thinking is going exactly the same way as discussed between my friends and colleagues.

However, one of them added a twist - which I am posting down below.


Quote:
Originally Posted by blackasta View Post
a. IMO Indian road conditions / pollution / driving conditions / low quality fuel break down a car pretty fast.

b. I bought my 1998 Mazda 626 in US (2009) when it had already ran 81000 miles (130000 kms) and was over 10 years old. It is still running without much fuss with my old roomie and has clocked over 115000 miles (185000 kms).

c. Would you dare buy a petrol sedan which is 10 years old and has clocked 100k+ kms in India?
a. I agree.

b. WOW!

c. NO!!

Just a small question - what is the legal age limit for cars in US? Like, in India, the original registration is valid for 15 years, and thereafter we have to get the 'fitness' certified.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
There're quite a few professional restorers in this forum who maintain several decade old vehicles still in top notch. Talking apart from professionals, there're quite a few people who maintain their Jawa & Yezdi still in mint condition.
Aargee, I agree with you about the people who love their cars and bikes, and take pains to restore / retain them in mint conditions.

But, I was talking about what happens to the rest of the lot?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ElantraGT View Post
By the time they start to dismantle the car, the dealer will start calling others from the spare market trade about the model of the vehicle he acquired and they will line up to take away the parts as they come out of the car.
I too have witnessed this - and how the parts land up in Pudupet (Chennai) a place famous (notorious) for the spare parts market (racket).

I think in country like ours, there is a good chance of the parts getting refurbished and passed of as new - isn't it??

But, the main parts - the engine block and the chassis - what happens to them? At least, the chassis can be broken apart and scrap metal used. But the engine block? Just try to imagine the cast iron engine of the old Amby - what would happen to it??


Quote:
Originally Posted by sumeethaldankar View Post
I guess that's what happens to most all the cars once they get old.They are taken apart and sold as spares.
I agree partly - spares can be sold only as long there is a demand for it and the manufacturer stops supplying the parts. Yes, cannibalisation of vehicles do happen - but to what extent? And, samsang12 has rightly observed what happens during this process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samsag12 View Post
The other mindset which scrappers have is of "the fast turnover". Many bits which are picked as bulk, like horns, meters, headlamps, et al, are kept safely and all the other parts including the glasses are smashed to pieces.
As pointed out each and every part is sold as scrap even the engine is hacked to pieces. The most precious parts which yield good money are Brake boosters, power steering assembly(if any) etc.
Rightly said. As long as there is money to be made, there will be innovative ways in which it will be made . In fact, there are some scrap dealers who have a reputation to source even the most difficult spare!!


Now, to come back, what we (my friends and I) were talking - one of them mentioned that there is every chance that these old autos are simply shipped to some third world countries, (whose laws are pretty lax), where people buy them!!

To quote his point, he said that in places like Turkey one would find plenty of Toyotas - which are exported from Gulf countries. This is a symbiotic existence - people in Gulf get to dispose off their cars and go in for new models and those in Turkey get to own cars which are other-wise out of reach. He said that he had seen plenty of Mercs in Spain (old models) which prompted him to think these must have landed from Germany / other European countries, as and when laws there do not permit old cars to run on road. Can this be true?
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Old 25th September 2010, 11:20   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post

Just a small question - what is the legal age limit for cars in US? Like, in India, the original registration is valid for 15 years, and thereafter we have to get the 'fitness' certified.
In US ( atleast in NJ), if a car passes the biennial inspection, its good to run on the roads. New cars do not need to be inspected for 3 years.
Some vehicles are exempt from inspection (emissions), with special reference to historic and collector vehicles. The guidelines to be qualified as one of the above are:

Historic vehicles
General inspections are not required for historic or collector vehicles. To be classified as a "historic vehicle" it must be:
At least 25 years old
Specially registered and display QQ plates

Collector vehicles
To be classified as a "collector vehicle" you need to apply when you register and make sure that the vehicle:
Is not registered as a "historic vehicle" or a "street rod"
Is not driven more than 3,000 miles per year
Is insured as a limited use "collector vehicle"

all vehicles need to stick to other points of inspection like brakes, tire tread, airbags (guess for cars after 1990 or something) etc.

Last edited by blackasta : 25th September 2010 at 11:25.
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Old 25th September 2010, 11:42   #10
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Thanks for the info, blackasta!

So, 25 year old vehicles qualify for 'history' - with a special registration. Isn't that a great idea? So apart from 'classic', 'vintage' and 'collector' items, there is a special category for vehicles which don't fit in these three categories.

And, thank God for small mercies - because had the same rules (biennial inspection) been applicable here, then what would be our condition - with RTOs being known for what they are famous for in our country
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Old 25th September 2010, 13:21   #11
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There are a lot of vehicle that we used to use while growing up that have disappeared.

Not only bikes like Yezdi, Rajdoot, even later bikes like TVS Shogun, HH CD100 SS, HH sleek, KB 100 RTZ, etc., are rarely seen on road.

Mini bikes/Mopeds like Hero Puch, M80, Explorer, Luna, TVS Champ, Kinetic Safari, Spark, the Avanti-Garellis, Hero-Majesticc even scooters like LML Supremo & NV, many from the huge Bajaj Scooter Stable have all but vanished.

Guess that is due to the non-availability of spares that finally drives a vehicle to its grave.

I had a BSA Bond which all mechanics refused to touch and I had to maintain it myself.

I finally scrapped it off.

[quote=vrprabhu;2082573I am sure that the (hand built) quality of these machines would be far superior - with due allowance to be given for the technology used today for building automobiles. [/quote]

I do not agree with you entirely.

Yes, the machines were built to last, but quality did not take priority.

They had a lot of metal parts which were more durable than the plastic parts that are abundant in our new gen cars.

I was speaking to a few old timers and their observations:

1.They had to send Cars immediately to a nearby garage after buying it for tightening and adjusting all bolts and nuts

2.Rewiring the electricals as the OEM wiring hung in bunches.

3.Rust on a brand new vehicle was common

4.Nobody remembers claiming warranty from companies because it was non-existent.

5.There was no service schedules that was followed at authorised service centres (authorised service centres? What are the, we had only dealers)

Check out the quality on a brand new RE bike and you will understand what hand-crafted means.


A friend of mine had visited the Premier Auto factory during his training when it was at its prime.

He recalls:

"The workshops were handled by unkempt mechanics who were unskilled. In case of an order, they brought parts from what looked like a scrapyard and put them together using crude methods.

They did not even have a method to manage inventory.

The final output depended on the time and mood of the worker.

When he asked about this to a senior official, he said that they were hand crafted cars and had to be done this way only."

My friend fumed about this saying "Hand-crafted is a word that we Indians use to hide our laziness"

After buying an brand new Electra, his words seem right.
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Old 25th September 2010, 13:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KA18 View Post
I had a BSA Bond which all mechanics refused to touch and I had to maintain it myself.

Yes, the machines were built to last, but quality did not take priority. They had a lot of metal parts which were more durable than the plastic parts that are abundant in our new gen cars.

I was speaking to a few old timers and their observations:
1.They had to send Cars immediately to a nearby garage after buying it for tightening and adjusting all bolts and nuts
BSA Bond - WOW! It was a pocket rocket - build quality was not up to the mark - but were there a lot of boys racing it on the road those days!!

Hmmm.. you are right. But I did not have 'engineering' or 'assembly' in mind - it was more like that these vehicles were meant / designed to run our roads and take abuse....

You reminded me of what the people used say (in Tamil) - 'overalling' or 'overoiling'..... (Actually, it meant 'over-haul' - you send back your new vehicle to the garage to ensure that whatever wasn't tightened properly in first place is redone!)

We digress.

To get back to the point, what we found surprising was this -

All of us will agree that there is an exponential growth in the sale of automobiles and their number on road. As a corollary, the percentage of vehicles getting decommissioned would have also gone up. At least in metros and bigger cities. Scrapping and dismantling them appears to be general way to get rid of junked vehicles. What is going to happen in the next decade - more junk? Aren't the automobile manufacturers supposed to do something about this? If you look at the problem of garbage disposal in the city you live in, you'll get an idea of what I mean. Especially the 'pet' bottles of soft drinks and water....


Anybody ever wondered what happens to the all the hair which we get groomed at the barber shop (about once a month?). There is an interesting story I heard about this....
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Old 25th September 2010, 16:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrprabhu View Post
Thanks for the info, blackasta!

So, 25 year old vehicles qualify for 'history' - with a special registration. Isn't that a great idea? So apart from 'classic', 'vintage' and 'collector' items, there is a special category for vehicles which don't fit in these three categories.

And, thank God for small mercies - because had the same rules (biennial inspection) been applicable here, then what would be our condition - with RTOs being known for what they are famous for in our country
LOLZ we have half yearly PUC checks to cover the emissions part. Thankfully 3rd party vendors are allowed to carry that out.

In US too you can get an inspection done from an outside authorized garage - who might keep his eyes closed to your check engine light, and gobble up around 200 USD.
But the govt run ones charge minimal fee but oh boy they are tough as hell. Once they failed a colleague of mine for having less tire tread in 1 tire, and failed another one for not maintaining the spare with adequate tire pressure!
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Old 25th September 2010, 17:06   #14
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That is why India is great - nothing is really wasted. Instead of mindlessly crushing cars, each part is dismantled and finds it way to a used-parts bazaar - e.g. in Kurla, you can get parts of most cars in the last 20-30 years.

In my 1999 Matiz, I had a gear problem recently, which was diagnosed to a failure of one of the changers. My mechanic said it is going to be extremely difficult to source a new changer, so he simply swapped my old gear box for another Matiz gearbox, sourced from Kurla.

What do people do with their old vehicles - ask me:
I have owned 4 vehicles since 1986 - the 1986 Ind-Suzuki AX100, 1999 Matiz SE and 2005 Scorpio are still with me.

In my neighbourhood, I find many M800s simply abandoned and parked on the road.
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Old 25th September 2010, 17:58   #15
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The two and four wheelers get old and outdated.Earlier we would keep them for 20-30 years or even more. But thats done very rarely today.
Indian Recipe for a motor vehicle to get scrapped!

-the first item in the scrapping recipe is the resale value that plummets.
-the second item is scarce availability of spares.
-the third item is the motor vehicle becomes a liability for the owner- at least he or she thinks so.
-the fourth is nobody wants to keep such a motor vehicle for company.

Then its sold to someone else who either owns it having bought it for a pittance (like the Rs 8L Opel Astras being sold for Rs 70 -80K or less) or scarps it for spares. Selling scrapped spares is more profitable as compared to selling a complete unit. The Astra SVM used to cost Rs 4.5K.
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This is the last journey of an Ambassador
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Scrap has arrived for sale in the scrap market

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