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Old 22nd August 2013, 13:52   #1
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Default Greetings from Calcutta, the erstwhile Capital of British India

Hello everyone!

This is going to be a long intro so apologies in advance in case you get bored. I am Biman a.k.a. Babuda to my relatives, colleagues, friends as well as foes (I hope I don't have too many of the latter though), hence my handle. I deal in Medical and Telecommunication equipment, my wife runs a nursery school and my son is in Class IX. Location? It's there on the title. Like most members on this forum, we love to travel, preferably by car. Like many of the newbies, I have silently trawled through the forum for quite some time. Unlike most of the newbies, I exceed the median age on the forum by quite a few clicks. That does give me an advantage however, in the form of the varied models of cars that I have experienced first hand.

The earliest cars I can remember that we had in the family was my granddad's Dodge Kingsway and my father's Standard Ten. It was joined by a Willys three door station wagon in which I remember going on many a family picnic. The first two cars were there till I started going to nursery in 1970 (there, you can calculate my age now) and were replaced by an Ambassador Mark II (the one with the Smiths instrumentation but without the clock in between the two dials) and a Fiat 1100D respectively. The Ambassadors changed frequently ending with a Mark 4 but the Fiat remained with us till 1986. It was my father's personal car and he was very fond of it. Meanwhile, we had gotten ourselves a Maruti 800 (the original SS 80) in 1984 and a high roof van in 1986.

Then in 1987, came my personal favorite of all the cars that we have owned till date - the Contessa Classic 1.8 GL. It was the first air conditioned car that we owned. A powerhouse in those days - ultimate luxury if you discount the (Sub) Standard 2000. I have many fond memories of the numerous trips taken in that car. Sadly, we had to sell it off in 1995 after it met with a major accident. Meanwhile, the 800 and the van had been replaced by a 118 NE in 1992. I remember that factory fitment of an AC was not an option and we had to get it installed from PAE (Premier Auto Electric), a PAL subsidiary and that there was a label riveted to the deck lid. Maybe we had got a lemon, but the car was an unmitigated disaster (no offence to 118 NE owners and aficionados). The electricals were troublesome, we had to change the muffler twice and the lower portion of the front wings and door panels rusted through - all in our four years of ownership. We were not sorry to see it go and it was replaced by an Esteem in 1996. The Contessa had been replaced the previous year by an 800 DX; both trouble free no nonsense cars.

We rediscovered the joys of owning a Maruti once again - peace of mind. The duo was joined by a wide track 1 litre Gypsy the same year. The Gypsy was replaced by another Gypsy in '97 and then again another Gypsy in '98 and finally by a Gypsy King in 1999. You must be wondering at the high turnover rate of the Gypsies - well they were driven at our project sites where there were hardly any roads and were wrecks at the end of a year. The King was with us for two years till 2001 when rising petrol prices and the ending of that project made us switch to a truck, i.e. a Mahindra Marshall Deluxe with a DI engine. It was a brute - you have to experience the NVH levels to believe it. We promptly fitted it with an after market air conditioner and it became our faithful companion for all our road trips from then on. The Golden Quadrilateral had come up in parts by then and it enabled us to visit many places that we were hesitant to even consider before. It swallowed up our whole family (my parents, I, my wife and two year old son, my brother and his newly wedded wife, and on occasions even my 80 year old grandmother - all of 7 and a 1/4 people! We had even installed a roof rack to carry our luggage though it wasn't very sturdy. Sadly we had to dispose of it in 2004 after it met with an accident - with me at the wheels! it happened this way - we were returning home from Asansol about 225 km from Cal one evening and I was about to overtake a local bus on the Golden Quadrilateral just before Durgapur. I flashed my lights and tapped on the horn and the bus gave way. I accelerated to overtake and midway through I saw a large shape rushing towards us without lights on the wrong side. I jammed on the brakes (remember drums all round) and the truck skidded to the left, narrowly missing a tailgating Sumo and came to a stop. The bus hurtling down the wrong side slammed into the jutting out rear right quarter panel of the Marshall narrowly missing my mother and son who were asleep on the rear seat. The roof crumpled up, the panel was smashed in, the front and rear right doors got distorted out of shape and we were showered with broken glass. The bus did not even bother to stop. However, I did manage to drive it back home to Cal in that state. That was one tough car. It was goodbye to the Marshall after that as the chassis alignment had been affected.

In the meantime, the 800 DX had been replaced in 2000 by a first generation Wagon R VX (non power steering) and that became my daily ride till 2007. The Wagon R was replaced by an Indica in 2007 and the Esteem was replaced by an Indigo CS in 2008. The less said about the pair the better. Again no offence meant to Indica / Indigo owners. The Indica was replaced by an A Star VXI in 2010 (a car that I love) and the Indigo was substituted by an Ertiga ZDI earlier this year (a car that we need).

So continues my exciting journey in the world of cars my dear fellow members, especially now with all of you as co-travellers.

Anyway, I feel I have babbled on for long enough - hope it's not early signs of senility

Thank you for your patience.

See you around.

Babuda

P.S. I have yet to tell you about the adventures with my uncle's 1951 Vauxhall Wyvern and my misadventures with our 1987 Lada Riva.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 22:06   #2
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Default Re: Greetings from Calcutta, the erstwhile Capital of British India

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This is going to be a long intro
Dear Babuda,

Welcome to the T-BHP Forum. It took some time to go through your post. Even I myself had posted one looong introduction post.

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Originally Posted by Babuda View Post
P.S. I have yet to tell you about the adventures with my uncle's 1951 Vauxhall Wyvern and my misadventures with our 1987 Lada Riva.

I could not believe myself reading that here is a person who has almost driven 95% of Cars/Vehicles available in the Country! 20 models and 27 vehicles if I have counted right. Just imagine if you start writing ownership reports for all these - I will become old and my children have to read the same.

I do not think there is any one on the forum who can rival your experience in so many number of vehicles. As is known, as a Bengali, what ever you do, you do it to the fullest.

We have another 'da' - Debuda, and his ownership reports of XUV 500 and his Travelogues are so good - I will be waiting in anticipation for the same from your pen, which is also a long distance runner as is evident from the above post.

- Sai
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Old 23rd August 2013, 10:41   #3
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20 models and 27 vehicles if I have counted right. Just imagine if you start writing ownership reports for all these - I will become old and my children have to read the same.

I do not think there is any one on the forum who can rival your experience in so many number of vehicles.

We have another 'da' - Debuda, and his ownership reports of XUV 500 and his Travelogues are so good

- Sai
Ha ha! Thanks, but don't worry, my ownership reports will be short and sweet.

There must be many others who are much more experienced than I am.

I used to follow Debuda's blogs when he had the Diesel Swift.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 11:36   #4
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Default Re: Greetings from Calcutta, the erstwhile Capital of British India

Nice and detailed intro, Babuda, both of yourself and your cars. Welcome aboard Team-BHP!
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Originally Posted by Babuda View Post
The Golden Quadrilateral had come up in parts by then and it enabled us to visit many places that we were hesitant to even consider before.
The GQ in 2004 was not even halfway there - and as far as I remember, the section through Durgapur was a traffic nightmare. But the 20th century NH2 / NH6 / NH5... well, not too many on this forum have seen that, and I expect you would be one of the rare people to have done so!
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...it met with an accident - with me at the wheels!
However, I did manage to drive it back home to Cal in that state.
Good to know you had a narrow escape in your Marshal without injuries. A lesser car would certainly not have let you get back home!
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...our 1987 Lada Riva.
There weren't many Lada Rivas in Kolkata back then... Looking forward to this story!
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Old 23rd August 2013, 11:54   #5
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Nice and detailed intro, Babuda, both of yourself and your cars. Welcome aboard Team-BHP!
Thanks.

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The GQ in 2004 was not even halfway there - and as far as I remember, the section through Durgapur was a traffic nightmare. But the 20th century NH2 / NH6 / NH5... well, not too many on this forum have seen that, and I expect you would be one of the rare people to have done so!
Narrow roads, trees on both sides providing shade (no air conditioning in those days), level crossings, dynamo shops (a quick armature change was mandatory on almost every highway trip), snapping belts, cracked hoses but all great fun nevertheless. Every trip was an adventure.

Quote:
Good to know you had a narrow escape in your Marshal without injuries. A lesser car would certainly not have let you get back home!
You're certainly dead right about that! (pun unintended)

Quote:
There weren't many Lada Rivas in Kolkata back then... Looking forward to this story!
Ours was an ex-Russian Consulate car purchased through MMTC. Everything that can go wrong in a car did go wrong with it. Tell you about it later.
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Old 24th August 2013, 20:51   #6
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Default Re: Greetings from Calcutta, the erstwhile Capital of British India

Hi,
Your automotive experiences eerily mirror mine right down to the Contessa. (replace the Kingsway with a Chevy, the Overlander with several CJ3s). Maybe it's age related! (I'm slightly older, I think)

Quote:
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and were replaced by an Ambassador Mark II (the one with the Smiths instrumentation but without the clock in between the two dials)
We had two 1966 Ambassadors. One had the Yenkay meters, the other was I think by Autometers, but patterned after the Smiths. No clock or tripmeter.
By 1970, it should have all been Yenkays.

Quote:
and a Fiat 1100D respectively. The Ambassadors changed frequently ending with a Mark 4
Right till the 1800 ISZ and 2000 Diesel!

Quote:
Mahindra Marshall Deluxe with a DI engine. It was a brute - you have to experience the NVH levels to believe it. We promptly fitted it with an after market air conditioner and it became our faithful companion for all our road trips from then on.
A 500DP was my daily drive for quite sometime. A vehicle I subsequently blame for my hip and knee troubles!

Quote:
Sadly we had to dispose of it in 2004 after it met with an accident - with me at the wheels!...
That was one tough car. It was goodbye to the Marshall after that as the chassis alignment had been affected.
Consider yourself very very lucky. The vehicle looks tough, but most of the collision energy is passed onto the passengers. I have seen far too many such cases. Personally I don't consider our Jeeps to be very much safer than motorcycles. (Well, exaggeration, but only slightly)

Quote:
Indica in 2007 and the Esteem was replaced by an Indigo CS in 2008. The less said about the pair the better.
Did I mention eerily similar. (Replace Indigo CS with Vista Aura)

Quote:
misadventures with our 1987 Lada Riva.
Was hoping it was a typo, and you were talking of the Niva.

Anyway, welcome to the fold.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 24th August 2013, 21:08   #7
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Default Re: Greetings from Calcutta, the erstwhile Capital of British India

Babuda, Thats a lovely introduction and iam sure you will have a lot of fun on the forum.

Kolkattain's are anyways passionate ( mostly about music and art) and good to know about your automotive passion

Look forward to contribution on your experiences with Maruti on the forum

See ya around

Cheers
Mobike008
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Old 26th August 2013, 12:27   #8
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Hi,
Your automotive experiences eerily mirror mine right down to the Contessa. (replace the Kingsway with a Chevy, the Overlander with several CJ3s). Maybe it's age related! (I'm slightly older, I think)
Most people with car owning families who grew up in that era probably do have similar experiences. As for the sentence within brackets, that's debatable


Quote:
We had two 1966 Ambassadors. One had the Yenkay meters, the other was I think by Autometers, but patterned after the Smiths. No clock or tripmeter.
By 1970, it should have all been Yenkays.
Our 67 WBF 9022 had Smiths, the 70 WBG 271 had Yenkays (large speedometer on the right and three smaller ones place in a triangle on the right of the instrument cluster) and the 73 WMA 8290 had Autometers placed in a row (again speedometer on the right, fuel and ammeter on the left and the strip of warning lights in the middle).

Quote:
A 500DP was my daily drive for quite sometime. A vehicle I subsequently blame for my hip and knee troubles!
You're right, they were a pain.

Quote:
Consider yourself very very lucky. The vehicle looks tough, but most of the collision energy is passed onto the passengers. I have seen far too many such cases. Personally I don't consider our Jeeps to be very much safer than motorcycles. (Well, exaggeration, but only slightly)
I agree, very, very lucky, though the realization dawned much later.


Quote:
Did I mention eerily similar. (Replace Indigo CS with Vista Aura)
Like minds and all that!


Quote:
Was hoping it was a typo, and you were talking of the Niva.
Nope, unfortunately no typo - the Riva based on the Fiat 125.

Quote:
Anyway, welcome to the fold.
Thank you very muck. Looking forward to further interactions.


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Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Babuda, Thats a lovely introduction and iam sure you will have a lot of fun on the forum.

Kolkattain's are anyways passionate ( mostly about music and art) and good to know about your automotive passion

Look forward to contribution on your experiences with Maruti on the forum

See ya around

Cheers
Mobike008
Thanks! I indeed do intend to have fun and am flattered to have been noticed.
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Old 26th August 2013, 13:16   #9
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(I'm slightly older, I think)
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Originally Posted by Babuda View Post
As for the sentence within brackets, that's debatable
ও বাবা| দাদার-ও দাদা আছে!!!

Can we please get over with the debate right here please? (I am not a contender!)

Err... my daughter is in Class X.
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Old 26th August 2013, 14:19   #10
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ও বাবা| দাদার-ও দাদা আছে!!!

Can we please get over with the debate right here please? (I am not a contender!)
Ha ha! Anyway, age is just a state of the mind. On this forum you are certainly my senior by many a mile.

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Err... my daughter is in Class X.
aah! You must have noticed in the intro that my son is in Class IX.
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Old 27th August 2013, 09:39   #11
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Our 67 WBF 9022 had Smiths, the 70 WBG 271 had Yenkays (large speedometer on the right and three smaller ones place in a triangle on the right of the instrument cluster) and the 73 WMA 8290 had Autometers placed in a row (again speedometer on the right, fuel and ammeter on the left and the strip of warning lights in the middle).
WBF 75xx and WBF 76xx. 1966 one month apart. The earlier one had the Yenkays, the later one the Smiths. Guess during the transition period, anything at hand was fitted. But did not expect the transition period to extend for so long.

WMA 42xx. 1972. No oil pressure gauge.


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As for the sentence within brackets, that's debatable
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Can we please get over with the debate right here please?
Debate? What debate?
As a welcome gift to the new member, I'll forfeit this round!

Regards
Sutripta

Last edited by Rehaan : 29th August 2013 at 14:31. Reason: Fixing quote ;)
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Old 27th August 2013, 11:13   #12
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Sutripta;3219306]WBF 75xx and WBF 76xx. 1966 one month apart. The earlier one had the Yenkays, the later one the Smiths. Guess during the transition period, anything at hand was fitted. But did not expect the transition period to extend for so long.
I think they were busy with import substitution and finding vendors who could supply in (then applicable) quantity at the cheapest possible price. Our Fiats (my father's WBG 5766 and my grandfather's WBG 6xxx) were bought a few months apart. Ours had piano type switches below the instrument cluster while my grandfather's car had toggle type switches.

Quote:
WMA 42xx. 1972. No oil pressure gauge.
Oil pressure gauges along with temperature meters (for the first time in an Amby if I am not mistaken) appeared next in the Mark 4 as an optional fitment. Otherwise, the Mark 4 had the standard Mark 3 instrument panel with the meters mounted in a single row in a recessed cluster within a meshed grill. Instrumentation was now sometimes Pricol and sometimes Autometer. Our last Ambassador, WNW 4293 was a 1989 Mark 4 with the standard cluster. We had the (special) Autometer panel installed by the dealer before delivery - the one with the fuel gauge, oil pressure meter, ammeter and temperature meter in a row on the top left of the panel (I don't remember whether it was in that particular order), a larger speedometer on the right and the warning lights in a strip under the aforementioned four meters. The strip had separate directional indicators for the left and the right - first time for an Amby. Later, these instruments were backlit in green!


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Debate? What debate?
As a welcome gift to the new member, I'll forfeit this round!

Regards
Sutripta
Hey! Thanks, I feel honored to be welcomed by two stalwarts.
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Old 18th September 2013, 20:04   #13
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WMA 42xx. 1972. No oil pressure gauge.

I remember sitting on my dads lap with the steering all to myself on this Amby.

WMA 6264.

Actually one of the first cars I drove around the locality to go for cricket matches with the entire team and kit was a WMA 1777.

However my personal and dad's favorite was 1951 Morris Minor (WBD 3246), everything stamped Made in England all over and my own 1961 Fiat 1100. The latter was quite a head turner taking it to college in the year 2000
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Old 19th September 2013, 13:58   #14
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However my personal and dad's favorite was 1951 Morris Minor (WBD 3246), everything stamped Made in England all over and my own 1961 Fiat 1100.
One of our tenants (the Kuruvillas of Kerala) had a Morris Minor - the split screen model with the headlights placed besides the grill. The couple had the car till the late 80's and it was a daily drive for the wife. I remember the Made in England badges all over the car. Even our Fiat 1100D had Lucas, Made in England engraved on the headlights.

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The latter was quite a head turner taking it to college in the year 2000
It must have been - it would have been a rare sight by 2000.
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Old 19th September 2013, 15:28   #15
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One of our tenants (the Kuruvillas of Kerala) had a Morris Minor - the split screen model with the headlights placed besides the grill. The couple had the car till the late 80's and it was a daily drive for the wife. I remember the Made in England badges all over the car. Even our Fiat 1100D had Lucas, Made in England engraved on the headlights.
My dad had a convertible version of the low head lights, left hand drive which he sold off before I was born. However I have ridden that car quite a few times because it was sold to a family friend. Ours was a high placed headlight and hard top. All these cars had split screens. I remember it also had a low fuel indicator in terms of a loud 'dug dug' sound. Also I remember I found it quite fascinating that it had floor shift gears compared to the steering gears normally seen around in amby's and fiats that time.


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It must have been - it would have been a rare sight by 2000.
It was kind off my daily drive to Presidency College from Behala.

Last edited by Altocumulus : 19th September 2013 at 15:30.
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