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Old 26th October 2014, 23:31   #1
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Default A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Anecdotes about MHN 2181 narrated to Yours Truly today by Sqn Ldr (Dr) Subir Mukherjee (Retd):

Registered as:PBJ ---- in mid 1956, re-registered in 1964 as MHN 2181
Original Colour: Dark maroon now repainted
Chassis no: 228314
Unladen Weight: 1125 Kg
Winner in the OCJ Nagpur V & C Rally All Ladies Team in 2007

The car was bought from the HM dealer in Jalandhar for about Rs 9300=00, sometime during the monsoon of 1956 by Late Lt Col (Dr) Arun Kumar Mukherjee, of the Army Medical Corps. Petrol cost Re 0.53 np then. It was dark maroon in its factory paint and the "mechanical bundle of JOY" put the whole family on Cloud Nine. They had swapped it for their Standard Flying Eight.

There were floods that year in Punjab and it had to be pushed for some kms after it stalled when brand new, while going to Ludhiana and traversing across wheel deep water en route.

Being a soldier, frequent transfers meant moving the car every 2-3 years to a new destination. Lt Col Mukherjee was posted in Wellington, near Ootacamund in the early 1960's and the fog lights were fitted to improve visibility. During his tenures, he many a time came to his hometown Nagpur from Wellington by road, traversing the nearly 2000 km distance.
Settling down at Nagpur after retirement, Lt Col Mukherjee, never gave up the long drives. The car was re-registered with the Nagpur number sometime in 1964.

In Oct 1973, they left (Lt Col Mukherjee ( sadly a widower since 1969) , his son Sqn Ldr Subir (present owner), his Mrs and two little sons) for a sight - seeing trip to Kanyakumari via Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Pune, Goa , Trivandrum to Kanyakumari. When they had started, petrol cost Re 1=07 np per litre. The Arab-Israeli war had begun and the price moved northward to Re 1=80np when the family was in Kerala.

The return trip was via. Thirunavelli and Meenakshi Temple, Madurai. While near Salem, Lt Col Mukherjee's son Subir took charge of the wheels and he says he loves speed. While speeding, the engine caught fire.The car was stopped and everyone evacuated safely. The family was shocked (not much for the two serivce officers, but the little children and their mother) and a gentleman passing by on a Fiat 1100 D stopped by to enquire whether the family needed help ? The Mukherjees introduced themselves and the other couple "We are Sanjeeva Reddy and Mrs Reddy".

The Mukherjees asked "Congress leader". The reply was in the affirmative. Mr Sanjeeva said "I was stabbed in the back" referring to a recent political fallout.The Reddy's said our village is nearby and consoled the family, offering solace from the shock. The car took a few days to get back in ship shape. The Mukherjees were very grateful for the noble job done by the Reddys and Sqn Leader Subir still narrates the incident with a sparkle in his eyes.Mr Sanjeeva Reddy was later the President of India since 1977, for one term.

Once in 1989, the family had been to Kolkata. While returning from Kolkata to Nagpur, the rear axle broke about 22 kms from Joshipur (near Simlipal Sanctuary) somewhere on the Orissa border, during dusk. This stretch on the N.H. 6 is full of potholes and craters and for a stretch of nearly 20-30 kms its NO ROAD at all. Yours Truly has also travelled on the N.H. 6 but has no such harrowing experience. Many Sikh truck drivers warned the Mukherjee family against halting in the unsafe area (thefts and sex crime prone). The Mukherjees got the car towed by a truck to Joshipur with an old rope that tore and later a chain that broke. The truck driver ultimately pulled out a thick nylon rope from his tarpaulin and the car was brought to Joshipur. The family spent the whole night in the locked car fearing to leave it alone, as they were told that car and car spare thefts are pretty common here.The axle was replaced the next morning at a cost of Rs 185=00.

Then one evening, Sqn Ldr Subir returned from his clinic at 10 pm. They had to attend a family marriage at Delhi. Train tickets were not available.Thats when the entire family decided to move by car to Delhi and by 11 pm they took off by road. After halts at Jabalpur, Lalitpur, Agra and Okhla they reached Delhi. While on their return journey, a tyre got punctured and later tattered because it travelled a few kms with a flat. The tyre and tube were changed for Rs 200 or so. When on the move again, they were near the Tropic of Cancer about 24 kms from Jabalpur and a river there was in spate with flooding affecting traffic movement. Being a family of service officers, they as a rule carried dry ration (rice, dal, atta, a milk powder tin with a few essential utensils and a kerosene stove). Several cars and trucks were stranded and there was no way one could reverse and escape. The elder Lt Col Arun brought some charcoal from a nearby hamlet.The family had to halt at the spot for a prolonged period and had to cook and eat with their ingenuity at work. The car neared Mansar (about 40 kms from Nagpur toward Jabalpur on N.H. 7) and its fuel tank was dry. Fuel was filled and the family was left with a paltry Rs 5=00 for the 40 km trip back home. Very near Nagpur, the car broke down. Sqn Ldr Subir hired a rickshaw for Rs 2=00 and brought a mechanic, who finally got the car with the family to his workshop. They were left with Rs 3=00, but had reached home.

The car's tan brown leather seat upholstery is still intact, though a seat cover has been used to protect it.
So its not roses all the way for long distance drivers. Murphy's law works all the time to unnerve us.

Besides, every old car has several anecdotes attached to it that may be unsaid and consigned to history, if not recorded at the proper time.

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(more pictures to follow)

Last edited by Rehaan : 27th October 2014 at 14:38. Reason: Removing duplicate (copy-pasted twice?) text :)
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Old 27th October 2014, 07:46   #2
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Default re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

The garage of Sqn Ldr Subir's family has ten cars. Two Merc C Class, one Audi A 4, one Ford Endeavour, one Honda Accord, one Maruti Suzuki SX4,one Toyota Liva and one Suzuki Swift. Among the oldies are the Landmaster, a 1948 Jaguar 1.5 L (we will put a new thread on this car too whose first owner was Justice M. Hidaytullah,ex- Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Vice-President of India) and a 1960's Rajdoot Ranger with a Pune number.

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-040.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-041.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-042.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-043.jpg

Sqn Ldr Subir Mukherjee is seen in the above picture

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-050.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-051.jpg

(The OE gear lever of the Landmaster in the two above pictures - very rare. Also note the period sun shade fitted to the car)

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 27th October 2014 at 07:50.
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Old 27th October 2014, 18:02   #3
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Nice write up Anjaan. What a history this Landmaster has! It's surely seen it all - those long journeys, a couple of servicemen, a President, axle breakage and even fire. Great to know the car is still in decent shape.

NH 6 is still notorious for its potholes. I did a Mumbai - Kolkata run on it in November 2010 and though the Xylo I was driving managed to tackle the bumps pretty well, I wouldn't dare to take a low slung sedan on it. Used a Ford Fiesta for a part of same road in 2011 and while they had done a considerable repair job, it was far from being a great road.
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Old 27th October 2014, 20:36   #4
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Nice write up Anjaan. What a history this Landmaster has! It's surely seen it all - those long journeys, a couple of servicemen, a President, axle breakage and even fire. Great to know the car is still in decent shape.

NH 6 is still notorious for its potholes. I did a Mumbai - Kolkata run on it in November 2010 and though the Xylo I was driving managed to tackle the bumps pretty well, I wouldn't dare to take a low slung sedan on it. Used a Ford Fiesta for a part of same road in 2011 and while they had done a considerable repair job, it was far from being a great road.
Thanks Aditya and Rehaan for editing and making the post more readable. The Landmaster was in regular use always, but has lately not been seeing very good times due to the additions to the garage and the spares becoming scarce. I too never knew that the unassuming car has such a long story to tell until I sat with Sqn Ldr Subir yesterday and got all the facts from him. In fact, Sqn Ldr Subir's grandfather Dhirendranath Mukherjee was a doctor in the Navy.And his son Major Shantanu (short service commission) was also an Army doctor. So its been there for four generations.

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-034.jpg

Above: The four generations

Yes Aditya, those parts of the NH 6 can only be better traversed in an automobile with a high ground clearence. The first time I travelled was in 1980 and very little has changed. And the fact that it is an unsafe sector makes it more notorious.

Meanwhile, the car having endured so many odds through its 58 year journey has an OHV 1489 cc BMC heart now, with its complementary SU carburettor. The BMC 1476 cc side valve engine had to be discarded owing to its condition and the fact that its spares have become scarce. However, it retains most of its other OE components like the Lucas regulator (cut-out) and the Lucas dynamo (most of us are switching to alternators) as can be seen.

Some more pictures:

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-047.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-048.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-049.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-052.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-053.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-054.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-055.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-056.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-057.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-058.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-059.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-065.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-091.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-100.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-110.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-112.jpg

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A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-114.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-082.jpg

Above: The Landmaster through the driver's seat of the 1948 Jaguar 1.5 L

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 27th October 2014 at 20:59.
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Old 27th October 2014, 21:29   #5
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Truly vintage stuff

And nice write up.

This goes to show how a car becomes much more than merely a machine and goes on to live in the hearts of those who own it reliving fond memories of yesteryears.

Brings back the memories of our (now sold to a relative) pre-owned '72 Amby Mark 2, that we bought in 1989 (the first car our family had and I was a school kid then) and how it had become the pride of our street.
It underwent several open heart surgeries (the original petrol engine swapped for an Isuzu diesel), a puncture bang in the middle of the Bangalore-Mysore highway in the early 90's, a thrilling break failure in the heart of the Bangalore city in the late 90s (we broke several signals and were chased by a policeman on a bike), a complete topple on the way to Kolar after hitting a truck (by God's Grace, everyone escaped with minor scrapes and so did the car) and what not!

But thinking about those memories now, puts a smile on the face

By the way, it's a cool garage that Sqn Ldr (Dr) Subir has- covers pretty much every segment
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Old 27th October 2014, 23:00   #6
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Wondering if the engine is original? I could be wrong here but AFAIK the Landmaster used to have side valve engine and it is much later that overhead valve (OHV) was introduced.
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Old 27th October 2014, 23:10   #7
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

What an irony!

MHN/2181 survives! MHN/2191 (yes!) was a Willys CJ3B which my Grandfather had used, back in the 'Swinging Sixties.

As a young passout from the Colorado School of Mines, he drove MHN/2191 in Jammu, back in the day. The Jeep, as expected was driven down from the Indian Bureau of Mines H.Q in Nagpur, to Jammu.

Back in the day, the Hurricane powered Jeep used to run a lot. Bangalore, Poona, Delhi, Patna, Calcutta...Name it, and MHN/2191 would have been there.

A further coincidence, 2181 and 2191 were not only mile munchers, but also, their owners had the same surname.

Sadly, she is no more with us. A 1100 Delight , again a mile muncher remains with us, to this day.

Last edited by FINTAIL : 27th October 2014 at 23:14.
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Old 28th October 2014, 10:30   #8
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Wow!!

Anjaan Da..That is some journey for the Landmaster.
Its epics truly justify its name-"Master of the Land- The Land Master".

Though the car still stands, hope it gets some restoration work done to return to its glory days.

A very well written write up and a great read.

Rating it 5 Stars for the engrossing read!!
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Old 28th October 2014, 10:39   #9
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Hi Sudev,

Anjan has indeed mentioned that the engine was replaced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Wondering if the engine is original? I could be wrong here but AFAIK the Landmaster used to have side valve engine and it is much later that overhead valve (OHV) was introduced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anjan_c2007 View Post
Meanwhile, the car having endured so many odds through its 58 year journey has an OHV 1489 cc BMC heart now, with its complementary SU carburettor. The BMC 1476 cc side valve engine had to be discarded owing to its condition and the fact that its spares have become scarce. However, it retains most of its other OE components like the Lucas regulator (cut-out) and the Lucas dynamo (most of us are switching to alternators) as can be seen.
@Anjan: Huge thanks for giving MHN 2181 her due under the sun. I have always dreamed of owing a bottle green colored LANDMASTER, with that green tinted windshield shade. May be... One day.
Desperately waiting to hear about the JAG now.

Raab rakha.

Last edited by ariesonu : 28th October 2014 at 10:44.
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Old 28th October 2014, 16:29   #10
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

My family had a Landmaster with a side-valve engine. I must have been about 3 when it broke down on a long-distance journey. I remember we were stranded in the middle of nowhere at dusk, with nearly the whole family there. I don't remember mush more, other than the bonnet being propped open and major discussions about what to do. My father dumped the car soon after and stuck with Ambys. In those days a really major selling point of the Ambys was "OHV", which meant nothing to a kid like me!

It is amazing the this family has not only traveled so much in a Landmaster but still owns it in running condition. Thanks, Anjan Da!
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Old 28th October 2014, 16:55   #11
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Awesome.

Just one word to the family; *RESPECT*

Four generations of Doctors in the defence. In addition, they have maintained this Landmaster! Its mind-blowing.

Salutes to their family.
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Old 28th October 2014, 20:43   #12
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Srikanthan View Post
Awesome.

Just one word to the family; *RESPECT*

Four generations of Doctors in the defence. In addition, they have maintained this Landmaster! Its mind-blowing.

Salutes to their family.
Thanks Srikanthan.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheTeacher View Post

It is amazing the this family has not only traveled so much in a Landmaster but still owns it in running condition. Thanks, Anjan Da!
Thanks The Teacher.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ariesonu View Post
Hi Sudev,

Anjan has indeed mentioned that the engine was replaced.

Desperately waiting to hear about the JAG now.
Thanks ariesonu. Yes the Jaguar is next on my list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arnabchak View Post
Wow!!

Anjaan Da..That is some journey for the Landmaster.
Its epics truly justify its name-"Master of the Land- The Land Master".

Though the car still stands, hope it gets some restoration work done to return to its glory days.

A very well written write up and a great read.

Rating it 5 Stars for the engrossing read!!
Thanks arnab. Yes, lets hope the car gets back to its glorious days. As a child, I have been seeing this car since the 1960's and always remember its gleaming dark maroon paint and the shiny chrome. At functions, the 3 generations of Mukerji's would come in spotless Bengali traditional attires and it would always be a pleasure tallking to them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FINTAIL View Post
What an irony!

MHN/2181 survives! MHN/2191 (yes!) was a Willys CJ3B which my Grandfather had used, back in the 'Swinging Sixties.

A further coincidence, 2181 and 2191 were not only mile munchers, but also, their owners had the same surname.
Thanks Fintail, the 2181 and 2191 are only 10 digits apart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Wondering if the engine is original? I could be wrong here but AFAIK the Landmaster used to have side valve engine and it is much later that overhead valve (OHV) was introduced.
Thanks sudev, the engine is changed which has also been quoted by ariesonu. Ambassadors till around 1960 were still powered by the side valve, whereas in the U.K., the Morris Oxford Series II's (our Landmaster) were powered by the OHV 1489 cc engine since 1954. This engine took 6 years to reach India.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Car-go-man View Post
Truly vintage stuff

This goes to show how a car becomes much more than merely a machine and goes on to live in the hearts of those who own it reliving fond memories of yesteryears.

By the way, it's a cool garage that Sqn Ldr (Dr) Subir has- covers pretty much every segment
Thanks car-go-man, true, every car comes attached with lots of tales with lots of thrills sometimes.


Meanwhile some more facets about Sqn Ldr Subir Mukerji, who proudly calls himself "Garibon ka Doctor", now that he is engaged in private practice.

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-subir-m.jpg

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-subir-m-001.jpg

Article from Intimate

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-031.jpg

The crashed aircraft

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-033.jpg

Parasailing at 60

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-032.jpg

The future CM of Maharashtra seen here giving an award to Subirda

A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!-diwalisubir-m-038.jpg

With social worker the Late Baba Amte and his Mrs Amte , while the Baba was ailing at his Ashram in Warora, Chandrapur dist. (Mah)

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 28th October 2014 at 20:45.
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Old 28th October 2014, 22:47   #13
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Anjan Da - Thank you very much for taking us down the memory lane.
Kudos to the Mukherji family for maintaining the prized possession for four generations with almost all the original parts intact. (agreed that it had a heart transplant, but having said that, the 1489 cc OHV petrol engine itself is a rarity these days).
I am sure all of us have some interesting stories / trivia to share about our favourite ride.
Reading this thread brought fond memories of our pre-owned 1959 make Ambassador (brought by my father in 1968). I am told that I was brought home in that car after my birth. Sometimes my father used to drop me to school in it. Recently had been to Kolkata during the Pujas and the old chappie had a change of its engine head gasket and the condensor in the distributor. I would have definitely driven it down to Bangalore but for the mandatory change in the registration number. (I am not willing to change the original registration number).

I have one question though. I am sorry if I have missed it, but I do not see the ignition coil and the distributor in the photos. Have they been removed?

Regards,

Samish

P. S.: Any plans of restoring?
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Old 29th October 2014, 00:24   #14
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Great story about the Great family of brave hearts. I salute them. By the way, is Admiral Mukerjee (Retd Naval Engineer) from Nagpur related to this family? Regards
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Old 29th October 2014, 14:19   #15
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Default Re: A 1956 Landmaster: Owned by the same family since 58 years!

Fantastic story of the Landmaster and its owners. More engrossing is the read about the family itself- their little brushes with future celebs - a bit of a teaser?
BTW - are there any plans for restoring the interiors?
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