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Old 11th December 2013, 17:04   #1
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Default The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Circa 1961, Atlanta was born in a small shed at Kaimanam near Trivandrum. It was the time when the now vintage lambrettas and Vespas ruled the road. Atlanta is an indigenously built 2 wheeler by P.S. Thankappan, an Engineer in the labor department, who hails from Chathannoor, Kollam district, Kerala . The Atlanta was the brainchild of N.H. Rajkumar who was the joint director of the labor department. He was later awarded IAS for his professional excellence. He passed away in 2007.After completing a training in Japan In 1957, N.H. Rajkumar was highly motivated and the idea of an Indian built scooter was conceived and it is from here, the Atlanta was born on papers.

Since the attempt to form a public limited was failed, Mr. Rajkumar started a company by himself and named it Ranjan Motor India after his beloved sons Anil Ranjan and Vinayan Ranjan. The Travancore Royal family helped by taking the first shares in the company and it was worth 2 lakhs INR. The total capital of the company was 5 lakhs INR.The body of the Atlanta was made of fiber. The only foreign parts in Atlanta were the Carburetor and the dynamo. The rest of the scooter were indigenously made, including the piston.Dr. Vinayan still remember his dad's sleepless night's working on Atlanta's sketches and the pre-production prototype paper works. He also remembers driving his dad's dream circa 1976-77. The same Atlanta is still with Dr. Vinayan.

To get the license for the bulk production of the Atlanta from central Govt., Mr. Thankappan took the scooter to New Delhi in train. It was in 1966 when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister of our country. P.K. Vasudevan Nair and the ex- Palakkad MP Mr. Balachandra Menon where the ones who arranged the meeting with Indira Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi. Thankappan also drove the Atlanta to the Prime Minister’s residence in style.

Indira Gandhi herself asked Mr. Thankappan to remove certain parts and asked him to explain in detail. As said by Thankappan, Mrs Gandhi had a good knowledge about automobiles. As per the instructions from Mrs Gandhi, Mr. Dinesh Singh’s (former central labor minister) planning advisory committee was appointed to look in the technical aspects of the Atlanta.The technical committee had 28 members and they had many discussions with Thankappan for few days and at last a Sardar with heavy physique asked Thankappan to ride the Atlanta with him as pillion. Thankappan still remember that journey as he ride the Atlanta in front of India gate along the steep road. Within time, Mr. Thankappan returned from Delhi and the approval for the bulk production of Atlanta was given to start in Trivandrum.

The production model cost was 1500 INR with 30 kmpl of petrol. The production forecast was 22,5000 per year. There were dealers at Kolkata, Madras and Hyderabad.But Atlanta was not a big success. By 1971, Atlanta was took over by the Engineer's co-operative society named 'ENCOS'. It was the labor issues which compelled Mr. Rajkumar to leave the company as said by Dr. Vinayan.Later ENCOS focused on manufacturing three wheelers. In between, Birla group showed interest in taking up the Atlanta but T.V. Thomas (former labor minister) opposed it as he needed Atlanta to be functional from Kerala.Later ENCOs was transformed to Kerala Automobiles LTD. (KAL) and Atlanta became history.Mr. Thankappan later retired as joint director from the Labor department and also was the first MD of artisan's corporation.
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Old 11th December 2013, 18:54   #2
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Wow! What a story!The prototype displayed in the black and white photos looks like it was inspired by many a German scooters of that era. Any idea what happened to the prototype? Thanks for sharing.
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Old 11th December 2013, 20:14   #3
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Incredible story - thanks very much indeed for sharing. How many did they sell? Any museums housing these?
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Old 12th December 2013, 00:18   #4
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Incredible story - thanks very much indeed for sharing. How many did they sell? Any museums housing these?
Not sure about the numbers and the museum specimens. I checked the number in kerala mvd site and its current but sadly not much details are available.
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Old 12th December 2013, 11:24   #5
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

That's a good story that I did not know about Kerala. Thanks for sharing.
I had heard of a scooter manufacturing unit in Kerala called Scooters India Limited Kerala (SILK) or something like that, but this was new.
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Old 12th December 2013, 12:22   #6
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Wow, truly innovative for that time. Never heard about such a thing and not a surprise to read that it was labor issues were one of the major factors. Just curious to know where the above model is kept, looks like a recently taken pic.
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Old 12th December 2013, 16:50   #7
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Originally Posted by sajusherief View Post
Wow, truly innovative for that time. Never heard about such a thing and not a surprise to read that it was labor issues were one of the major factors. Just curious to know where the above model is kept, looks like a recently taken pic.
yes thats a recent picture and the registration is current
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Old 12th December 2013, 18:22   #8
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Thanks for sharing.
This is a background of KAL I was not aware of. I always thought KAL only manufactured auto's. It was a regular sight on Kerala roads in early 90's.
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Old 12th December 2013, 23:00   #9
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

You had rekindled my memories with this post. I had seen this scooter for the first time in an annual exhibition at Trivandrum and I saw a luggage carrier version of the Atlanta scooter in running condition at a place called Peruva in Kottayam District some time in early 90s.
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I had heard of a scooter manufacturing unit in Kerala called Scooters India Limited Kerala (SILK) or something like that, but this was new.
I am afraid, SILK is the acronym for Steel Industries Kerala Limited, a State Public Sector Undertaking. They once assembled Vijai Super Scooters for Scooters India Ltd. They had also supplied Aluminium cylinder and head castings to the then Maruti Udyog Ltd.,for the M800 cars.

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Old 13th December 2013, 10:43   #10
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Default re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

^^^You must be right about the SILK acronym. Thanks for pointing that out, Rajeev. I had a recollection that they had something to do with scooters.
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Old 14th December 2013, 13:51   #11
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Post Re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

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Originally Posted by foby.sebastian View Post
The only foreign parts in Atlanta were the Carburetor and the dynamo. The rest of the scooter were indigenously made, including the piston.
Amazing info and pics there, Foby Sebastian!! This scooter looks similar to the one in this thread: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/vintag...ry-2012-a.html (Deccan Heritage Automobile Association (DHAA) Republic Day Meet - 26th January 2012)

The scooter that I am referring to in the above thread has the number MDB 5922 and is red and white in colour. See pictures from 9 to 16 in the first post of the above thread.

Regards and Keep Revving,

Rahul Waghmare.
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Old 14th December 2013, 20:43   #12
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Default Re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

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The scooter that I am referring to in the above thread has the number MDB 5922 and is red and white in colour. See pictures from 9 to 16 in the first post of the above thread.
Rahul that's a Maicoletta, made by a german outfit named Maico:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...Maicoletta.jpg
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Old 15th December 2013, 09:27   #13
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Default Re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

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Originally Posted by mpksuhas View Post
Thanks for sharing.
This is a background of KAL I was not aware of. I always thought KAL only manufactured auto's. It was a regular sight on Kerala roads in early 90's.
Scooters Kerala was based in Alleppey and KAL(Kerala Automobiles Ltd) is based in Trivandrum.Scooters kerala assembled Scooters and KAL autorickshaws.A few years ago Scooters kerala was merged with KAL.
KAL still manufactures Autorickshaws and export it to some countries
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Old 15th December 2013, 09:57   #14
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KAL still manufactures Autorickshaws and export it to some countries
That is news. I was thinking 3 wheeler production was stopped since nowadays they are not to be seen on roads.
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Old 16th December 2013, 15:58   #15
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Default Re: The first Indian Scooter - Atlanta

Wow!! Great find. Haven't even heard the story yet! Thanks for digging it up and sharing it here. Sad to hear Kerala's automobile industry was crippled so early by cheap union politics. The scene is just the same even now.

Salute to Mr P.S. Thankappan and Mr. N.H. Rajkumar. We miss such govt officials even now!

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Originally Posted by ajay99 View Post
Scooters Kerala was based in Alleppey and KAL(Kerala Automobiles Ltd) is based in Trivandrum.Scooters kerala assembled Scooters and KAL autorickshaws.A few years ago Scooters kerala was merged with KAL.
KAL still manufactures Autorickshaws and export it to some countries
That was a surprise! I really thought these were out of production for years.
Their website http://www.keralaautomobilesltd.com lists the products as these:
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