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|11th October 2004, 21:23||#1|
Every petrol head will own one car in his life that he will never want to part with. One that is more precious than the most exotic car costing a hundred times more. Team-BHPian Rudra Sen owns a '54 Ambassador that he never intends to get rid of. And I have found mine in the Mahindra Classic. It has stuck by me through some of the best times and more importantly - never let me down. Owning a Mahindra 4x4 is really something else. From the day of delivery on my birthday in '97...to the numerous great escapes and off-road expeditions that I have been on...my Jeep has made each and every moment a special one. The memories that I associate with my Classic are priceless.
The Mahindra Classic was developed primarily for export only, and was subsequently the first jeep to be sold in India with disc brakes. The Classic is basically a CJ-3B jeep with a long list of add-ons. It is the next and final generation of the CJ340. Team-BHP has seen at a recent visit to the Mahindra plant how Army vehicles are built in a special way. Ditto for the Mahindra Classic. Meant for more developed markets, the tolerances in manufacturing are much slimmer. Drive a well-maintained Classic and you will realise how much superior it is to regular Mahindras. The factory has also been generous in offering a host of standard equipment over the regular CJ340. The most significant of these are disc brakes with a brake booster, upgraded electricals including a more powerful alternator, free-wheeling hub on the front wheels, special (very comfortable) seats, an actual dashboard, suspended clutch/brake/accelerator pedals, full chrome bull bar, a 5000-pound front towing hook and numerous other extras.
Engine bay post-offroading
The appeal of this automobile is in its simplicity and ruggedness. There is no power-steering, no power-windows - heck there aren't even doors. The engine, suspension and transmission designs are the most simplistic while the electricals only drive the lights, horn, stereo and air-conditioner. Even though the machinery is simple in design, it is built tough and is exceedingly rugged. I still have not experienced a single breakdown. After 100,000 kms, it still feels, sounds and drives like it did when brand new - *Meaning it has exactly the same squeaks and rattles it did when delivered from the show-room* . Function is the key word here, though it doesn't do badly on the form factor either. This is a classic example of a 4x4 that's made with one purpose : to WORK. Whatever the terrain.
On the looks front, nothing comes close to this beast. Standing tall amongst the myriad of old and new sedans on our roads, the black paint with black glasses and Pajero-style alloy wheels make it stand out. The body is just so perfectly proportioned that this Jeep is considered one of the most timeless designs in automotive history. It looks outstanding from any angle; this about 60 years after it was launched. Will you like the way your Hyundai Santro looks in 2070? While the bull bar takes care of the front view, I have spiced up the rear end with an extra gas tank on the tail gate.
The Mahindra Classic uses a Peugeot 2112 cc Indirect Injection diesel, and this is one of it most endearing qualities. The low end torque is addictive, as is the sheer driveability in city limits. For most off-roading purposes, this engine is king. The stock gearing was a little too low so I recently replaced this with a higher final drive ratio. Now the engine feels much more relaxed at 80 kph which is just about the maximum you would require in a city. What I found most surprising is the level of grip..that rear end coupled with fat Michelin all-terrains has never broken loose. I remember driving to Goa in my Jeep along with another Mahindra Classic (both well-driven) the way that we were pushing the Jeeps around corners in the monsoon season would leave mundane car owners scared. The only factor that takes a tremendous amount of skill and getting used to is the dead steering. It's not that responsive and even then, you have to keep making constant corrections when cruising at say 80 km/h.
The Classic, however, is not a highway car at all. The engine and transmission have a lot of offer in lower rpms, but absolutely nothing in the top end. It was fine in the first couple of years that I bought it. But with the advent of much faster machinery, you feel the need for more power. I do take it to nearby hill stations and the like (for off-roading), but don't ever consider it as a regular highway machine.
In the element of a true-offroader, the ride quality is understandably not comfortable. Regular sedan owners would be in for a rude shock after a brief drive. That said, the specially bolstered seats (Recaro imitations) are simply amazing and the Michelin tyres have helped to soften the ride. Overall, the ride quality is leagues ahead of the other Indian offroader - The Maruti Gypsy. My Classic is much more comfortable than the boulders that every Gypsy seems to ride on.
Speaking of comfort, I have retrofitted a Tata Sierra air-conditioner in my Jeep. Initially I was worried of how the cooling would be with the rag top but later I didn't care...anything would help against the killer Bombay heat. Hats off to the installation guys at Milestone who have performed such an impeccable job that you seriously can't put the fan speed above level 1 - It's that powerful. Most of the Team-BHP moderators have cruised around in my Jeep and will vouch for the chilling air-con.
Including the higher final drive and my air-conditioner, I have about 50 additional modifications on my Classic. Custom made side-bars, custom made boom box, Enfield Bullet clear lamp headlights, Standok paint job, red calipers on the front discs, spare wheel bracket moved to the left, custom rear bumper etc.
The air-conditioner has made it very practical for use in the city, but practicality and Mahindra Classic were not supposed to go together. Regular team-Bhpians will know that I care two hoots about practicality when there is so much else on offer. But even then, I think the Classic is very useable as a daily driver in Bombay. Here's why:
* High perched in the traffic and with that massive bull bar in front of you - other cars actually make way for you. Never does anyone cut you.
* Its an off-roader and bad roads will never get the Jeep unsettled (pothole? What pothole?)
* Black glasses, a cd player/boom box and a chilling air-conditioner combine to protect you from external elements.
* That Peugeot diesel engine is a dream in the city. The truckloads of low torque mean that you can start the Jeep from standstill in third gear. And stay there all around town.
* Its incredibly reliable. One lac kilometres up and zero breakdowns.
* It consistently delivers 12 kpl in the City. With the air-con, its drops to an 11 kpl.
Living with a Mahindra Classic does require some amount of spare time. Just like bullets, my Jeep has a special starting sequence. I haven't yet encountered a major mechanical problem but there are small things that happen on an on-off basis. Do NOT expect Maruti-like reliability. Overheating was an issue, especially with the air-conditioner, till I met with the superb staff of Lawrence radiators. Starting problems were persistent sometimes. I once broke the rear drive shaft when taking off in a hurry. No problem, put on the 4x4 and drove to the garage in front wheel drive. Rust is a major irritant; especially I live on the beach. I have applied 4 coats of dinitrol to my new body and hopefully there won't be too much to worry about on this front. While mechanical components are shared with other Mahindras, some cosmetics aren't. My left mirror holder is custom made at the welder. Expect a lot of trial and error exercises.
But where the Classic is really in its element is off the road. My Jeep has seen innumerable off-road expeditions - some organised while the majority were independent. Rivers, boulders, slush, muck, mountains - this is standard Classic terrain. In the Mahindra organised great escapes, the 5 leading Jeeps are always Classics. The heavier and not so competent Mahindras such as Armadas etc. get bogged down very easily and create a bottleneck for us. What better way than to stay ahead of them. All of my personally planned off-road escapades to Igatpuri, Lonavla, Panchgani, Karnala and Deolali have been huge successes. What else do you need out in the wilderness beside a Jeep, a barbeque set-up, tents and some good company? Many a time I was apprehensive about taking my Jeep alone lest I get stuck and there's no other vehicle to tow me out. No such worries with this 4x4. Have never needed external help. And trust me on this. I have been through terrain which would scare the daylights out of amateurs. Akin to track driving, even off-roading is a special skill. One that comes only with proper technique, talent, knowledge and experience.
My father had bet me that I wouldn't use the Classic for more than 6 months. Well, its 7 years up and I still can't have enough of her. Every morning, I reach out for the Jeep keys only.
Because in addition to what a car can do...what's more important is how it makes you feel.
It's a mans car...It's a different breed....There really is nothing on Indian roads that can compare to the legend and sheer presence of a modded Mahindra 4x4. It's a Jeep thing - Not too many people will understand it.
*UPDATE* : Brand new 2.5L engine installed in 2008
Last edited by GTO : 5th March 2009 at 10:49. Reason: Adding 2.5 thread link
|The following BHPian Thanks GTO for this useful post:|
|11th October 2004, 21:23||#2|
Into the River
No Classic needed the tractor. But Armadas and 540's need some strong towing! I am cutting through everyone (Left of the picture)
Off-roaders for life!!
Red Bird. He's taking off
Camping in....the middle of nowhere. The bonnet is a makeshift bar
One of my favorites
Thats my best buddy and bro running behind me. They couldnt sit for fear of toppling the Jeep.
Same spot. People didnt get off the jeep. Result? Turtle.
Post-Offroading. Instructions to carwash guy : Dont clean for a week.
I think these photos speak more for the Jeep than my entire 1500 word review.
|12th October 2004, 13:23||#4|
Join Date: Apr 2004
Thanked: 176 Times
Awesome review there GTO!
As I mentioned to you before, your Jeep would make a great make-out vehicle too! Ice cool AC, pitch black tints and a boom box to erm...add to the "romantic" atmosphere
|12th October 2004, 14:41||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Mumbai, India
Thanked: 132 Times
Awesome review GTO. You gotta let me tag along on your next Great Escape or off roading adventure
|12th October 2004, 16:22||#8|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Thanked: 17 Times
Great review GTO. Wow, 2 in 2 amazing reviews in a span of 5 days. Rtech and GTO have to be the best car salesmen in India, undoubtedly. Maybe, i need to do my MBA from a certain "Rtech and GTO management institute."
|12th October 2004, 17:56||#9|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: DL XX XX XXXX
Thanked: 163 Times
.... gr8.... just too good...
3 things on my mind ...
1) Dark Tints?? - Where are the glasses?
2) What about seat belts?... you have them? ... woud look funny though.
3) How safe is it without those doors?... your CD-changer and stuff?...
and.. did that red bird settle down? or just flew like a turtle?
|12th October 2004, 20:06||#11|
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Turin, Italy
Thanked: 3 Times
awesome review. and ive seen the car in person, so ill vouch for the awesome build quality.
|12th October 2004, 22:17||#12|
Thanks guys for the comments.
2. Yes, I would never drive without seatbelts. Only front though.
3. You wont believe this. But cars around my Jeep have had their stereos flicked but never the Jeep. I have concealed the wiring et all very well, but I guess the chor thinks "Open Jeep? Fat chance of a stereo in there!!"
|13th October 2004, 01:42||#15|
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NO IDeA/Madurai
Damn - that is one nice jeep and great pics too.
I'm going to try and save up money to buy an old 4x4 550 or Jonga fitted with a 2.5l Mahindra diesel (i suppose only army sulprus will be available)...next trip to Ladakh is by Jeep !!! (don't think an ancient LC/Patrol would be as reliable)
You're one of the rarest breed - people who actually take their 4x4's offroading (hell most people buy a rwd jeep !)
/To Ladakh or bust/
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