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Old 21st May 2012, 12:38   #1
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Default Lifelong pilgrim

Hello All!

Automobiles came into my life in the seventies through the movies. Father was posted to AFS Lohegaon, Pune, and we were allowed the occasional Friday flick at the open air theatre. So some movie muscle cars and a few Matchbox cars and trailer trucks that my mother 'imported' from her trip to USA were cherished for many years. A Yellow VW Beetle mentioned in another post did its bit too. If anyone asked me, my favourite car would be a car with a red roof. Don't ask me why.

Workshops, the local, or the Army/Air Force kind were always places of wonder. Even today, I can't resist a peek at them to see what interesting car is in there. (Does anyone have a clue where the red Pontiac (Firebird?) rusting away inside Archie's Garage on Shankerseth Road, Pune is?)

We were in Bareilly in the late 80's when our first car, UTF 9, arrived. Being an ex-police commissioner's car, we got a lot of unasked for salutes when we drove out of our cantonment too.

The 1968 Vespa, CHU 4844, bought in Chandigarh was used less now. Served well for 35 years, till we had to leave it behind in 2002 as a gift to our car cleaner in TIFR, Colaba.

In Bangalore, I was surprised with a Kinetic Honda, CKA 2432, which travelled with me for college to Pune. The traffic cops in Pune had a field day, till they started waving me by in recognition and having heard my 'we get posted every two years story' many a times. The registration of all our vehicles were always a great attraction for them to make 'registration from another state' money.

I guess I would have had more canteen money if I didn't insist on a receipt. On the other hand, I got to know the gullys of Pune way better, in trying to avoid salivating traffic cops.

In Colaba came our M 800. My mother amazingly remembered my red car fetish. And booked a red one. I was horrified, that wasn't my dream car colour for a M 800, and to her disappointment, we got it changed to a more Marutish blue.

UTF 9 retired with my father to Pune. Loaned to a relative and finally sold to a Padmini fan. Hope it is alive somewhere. Original tinted glasses and all.

Then came a bolt out of the blue. Sorry make that a cherry red 1993 BMW 316i, MH01 R 630. Bought it in 2002 ( was that a sign too?), after a sleepless, excited night thinking about it. Had chanced upon it at a dealer, and just had to have it. You should have been there at HSBC when I met the personal loan officer and he asked me why I needed the loan. The experience and the ownership issues merit a separate post though. Currently Rusting In Peace.

Meanwhile I swapped the M 800 for a used Black 1997 Esteem 1.3 carb, MH 04 AC 8308, from Sai Service. After 14 years of service between two owners, sold it last year after a ground-up rebuild in 2007.

Currently a 2006 Toyota Corolla 1.8E H5 is the daily drive. Ticks all the boxes. Safe. Reliable. Comparatively boring.

My best drives? (Not necessarily in this order.)
1. Pune - Mumbai on my Kinetic Honda. Midnight runs chasing milk tankers before the expressway was even built.
2. Twisty old Bombay - Pune highway, even today.
3. Hilly roads outside Banerghatta in the 1990s Bangalore.
4. Cycling trips from Bangalore to grape farms near the TN border and back.
5. Scorpio-d around Leh and Nubra Valley.
6. 7 days across Austria in a Skoda Fabia.
7. 8 days of pottering about Italy in a Fiat 500.
8. Lankawi in a Proton.
9. Udaipur - Mumbai in a Ford Ikon 1.3 Rocam in 9.5 hours.
10. Mumbai - Bangalore to help deliver a friend's M 800.
11. Bangalore to Coorg in a Fiat Palio Diesel.
12. 4 day Mumbai- Pune - Mahabaleshwar - Dapoli - Harnai - Kelshi - Mumbai in my Esteem.
13. Mumbai - Daman / Mumbai - Surat / Mumbai - Bordi in my Corolla.
14. A 4WD Suzuki Gypsy in Pataya, Thailand.
15. Chennai - Pondicherry and surroundings, in a Hyundai Santro via the ECR.

Have ticked off a pilgrimage to Modena and Maranello. Waiting to visit Germany and its automobile delights. Though I would lean towards BMW in Munich over the rest. As famously written, life's a journey, might as well enjoy the drive.

I admit, have been what they call a 'lurker' on Team BHP for many years. Decided to take the plunge and strike up a conversation with all you auto-freaks, the catalyst being a chance meeting with FlyingSpur (is that correct Akshay?) at a wedding.

Thanks for accepting me into the manifold. Hope to make the right amount of noise.

Currently, I am waiting to get my hands on an interesting project car. That's my next passion. Would need all your combined help and experience to make it come true.

Probably, a 70's car with a red roof.
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Old 25th May 2012, 15:19   #2
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Default Re: Lifelong pilgrim

A nice intro there Lifelong piligrim err Automaton and that brings to the first question on the reasoning behind the title of your thread.

The story right from flashback to the present with all the actors of the wheeled kind certainly is an interesting read.

All the very best on your planned piligrimage to auto hubs and red roof car project which could be a lot of fun sharing and hearing from all TBHPians.

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Old 26th May 2012, 01:01   #3
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Hi @girish,
Thanks for the read.
For anyone crazy about machines in general, and cars in particular, the journey is often the destination. The destination is a pilgrimage of sorts.
Jonga rides thanks to the Kumaon Regiment. T-72 rides thanks to 5th Armoured Brigade. The excellent roller coaster dive that the Pawan Hans chopper takes, almost leaping off from the Vaishnodevi cliff helipad. The thrum of thousands watts of power that INS Godaveri generates against the heavy swells of the Arabian Sea, the small 6 seater turboprop roaring high over the Kenyan countryside on the way to the Masai Mara, are all life's best highs.

LSD to me is limited slip differential. Smoking up is only tyres against tarmac. And spirit is only the spirit of ecstasy. Every logo, car silhouette that flashes past an exclamation of thanks to the inspired geniuses that pen the masterpieces in their design studios.

The visit to Modena and the car town Maranello, driving there in an underpowered Fiat 500, was something I will cherish. (My wife patiently took a seat at the Ferrari museum after gamely accompanying me around once for the guided tour, while I ogled at the road and race versions, took countless pictures from every possible angle and just absorbed it all in for a couple of more hours.)
Sometimes I feel if I had the money to spare, the first thing I would get myself is a custom designed car. That to me is the ultimate expression of mobility. Whatever I drive seems inadequate, and the closest I have come to satisfaction is in the old E36 which I was lucky to possess for a few years.

Currently I am looking for a E30 3 series or a E28 5 series to continue that journey. Has anyone seen a cheap project car? The red roofed car will have to wait a bit longer.
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Old 26th May 2012, 14:05   #4
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Default Re: Lifelong pilgrim

Originally Posted by Automaton View Post
Hello All!

Workshops, the local, or the Army/Air Force kind were always places of wonder. Even today, I can't resist a peek at them to see what interesting car is in there. (Does anyone have a clue where the red Pontiac (Firebird?) rusting away inside Archie's Garage on Shankerseth Road, Pune is?)
Greetings and welcome aboard. Last I heard the Pontiac was sold to someone in Nagpur or Nashik or something like that.

I get the feeling this thread may interest you.


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Old 26th May 2012, 14:16   #5
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Thanks @Karlosdeville,
Jogged my memory, if I remember correctly it was a red Pontiac Tempest. I had asked the security guard but shrugged and was wistfully remembering the days when Archie's Garage was up and alive. And the 2-3 enquiries before me had met the same fate: the owner was refusing to sell.
Hopefully the new owner will put up his restored car pics here.

Will check out the Iink. Thanks.
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