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Old 18th November 2008, 20:48   #1
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Default A 1957 Landmaster Taxi Still in Use

I have often seen this Landmaster taxi MHG 99, parked at the Nagpur Railway Station premises since decades and have even been its passenger on some occasions. As an automobilist at heart, the car caught my attention many a time, but the rendezvous with the car and Mr Mohammed Sadiq, aged 73, its owner, is very recent.

The car, a 1957 Landmaster, is owned single-handedly by Mr Mohammed, since 1966. He bought it in a ramshackle condition in 1966 for Rs 6000=00, from the Kochar family of Kamptee (a town, 18 kms away from Nagpur), which owned two such cars BYJ 203 and BYJ 204.Yours truly owns a Landmaster that has the number BYJ 276. MHG 99 was earlier BYJ 203 and black in colour ("BY" stands for the erstwhile Bombay State and "J" a series for Nagpur). As it had to get a taxi number, the road transport authorities changed it to the MHG series in the transport category( "MH" for Maharashtra state).

Mr Mohammed has studied upto 7th standard at the St John’s School, Sadar, Nagpur. His father owned a 1946, Ford V8 and a 1946 Chevrolet Fleetmaster, that he plied as taxis. The family also owned a few horse-drawn carriages. Mohammed got his driving licence in 1960 and soon bought a second hand Landmaster for Rs 9000=00. He decorated this car with accessories, spending a lot of money. Soon,with the white smoke from the exhaust and high engine oil consumption, he discovered that the car engine is destined to bring in trouble.

This car was sold and soon came along MHG 99. The Kochars had a driver named Naidu, who had been driving this car. The latter told Mohammed that this car is the Goddess Lakshmi ( the Hindu diety worshipped to usher in economic prosperity) in this avatar and that it had been financially very lucky for the Kochars and for himself all through.

MHG 99 had the original British Motor Corporation (BMC,) 1489cc/ 50 bhp side valve engine with a SU carburettor as its power plant.Mohammed got the car restored by 1967 to a mint-like condition, taking all the efforts to fit the proper accessories and spares. He overspent from his resources and finally he did’nt even have Rs 15=00 (the cost of five litres of Castrol engine oil in 1967) to fill up the engine. He had to borrow this amount from a friend.

A sad event took place in 1970. The base of the original engine bay got cracked, near a jungle around Umrer in Nagpur dist (60 kms away from Nagpur). This mishap broke his heart and he tried to push the car towards the road, getting very exhausted. The car was later towed by a three-wheeler for some distance and later brought to Nagpur. It was then fitted with the overhead valve 1489 cc (OHV) Ambassador petrol engine with a Solex carburettor, which powers the car till today. The original electrical fuel pump of the Landmaster has been replaced with a mechanical one of the Ambassador, while the original Lucas dynamo has given way to an alternator.The front grille and front parking lights are of the Ambassador Mark III(1975-1979).The tail lights are of the Matador, a delivery van and station wagon, that was popular here till the 1980's.

A mishap in which the car was involved in, took place in 1975, at midnight, during a trip to the airport. Some flights used to touch Nagpur during midnight then. The car overturned at the place very near the Nagpur's Sonegaon airport, where Hotel Pride is located, as of now. The front windscreen broke and the roof suffered dents. There was no much damage to the other parts, which is typical of the Landmaster’s solid build quality. But Mohammed lost confidence in his driving abilities for a few months and felt shattered, that this should happen to him and his car.

His eyes moistened when he talked about these two sad incidents and frankly admitted that the car is the dearest to his heart- a “jigar ka tukda.”( a slice of the heart). He has seen many ups and downs during his 48 year-career as a taxi driver. For many years he had filled air in his car wheels manually. However, he has seen his father and himself in the taxi business and had a word of caution for his children, persuading them, never to take up this profession. None of them has. So the question “Who after Mohammed?” popped up in my mind. He said he does not drive much these days and comes to the Railway station to clean the car, start the engine with a cranking handle, warm it up and once in a while and move the car a few kilometres. He started it just then, with the cranking handle and the car started in a single jerk.

He calls the present generation of cars too delicate and fragile, as compared to the tank-like, solid British build-quality, of the Landmaster. Most of the body panels and parts were imported from the U.K. then. Cars were made to last long then.

Mohammed Sadiq has no regrets now and says that the car he has deeply loved all through the past 42 years, has kept his kitchen fires burning and has also seen all his eight children come up in life as they and their parents had desired. His eight children are doing well, he quipped, with a glee on his face and a twinkle in his eyes.

The sad part is that Mohammed is not renewing his taxi permit as he says he's too old. He also has some fears that not doing so may land the car in a scrapyard. I tried to assuage his fears but not so successfully.
(this article with photos has appeared in QUALITY FIRST's latest winter 2008 issue published by the Morris Cowley, Oxford and Issis Owner's Club, UK of which yours truly is a member. Indeed, Mohammed has a copy and was overjoyed)
A 1957 Landmaster Taxi Still in Use-mhg991.jpg

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A 1957 Landmaster Taxi Still in Use-mhg-9912.jpg  


Last edited by Mpower : 19th November 2008 at 03:09. Reason: formatting
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Old 18th November 2008, 21:07   #2
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Very well written. Though the car needs a lot of attention, but a very well maintained car considering the miles it may have clogged in the 42 years of its Taxi life.
But can the taxis not be re-transferred to personal names? Do they have to go to scrap yard if licence is not renewed?

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Old 18th November 2008, 21:48   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinit.merchant View Post
Very well written. Though the car needs a lot of attention, but a very well maintained car considering the miles it may have clogged in the 42 years of its Taxi life.
But can the taxis not be re-transferred to personal names? Do they have to go to scrap yard if licence is not renewed?
Yes, taxis can be re-transferred. I am in the process of doing so to my dad's 1966 Fiat taxi. Check out my other threads. It is not an easy task though.
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Old 18th November 2008, 22:11   #4
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Dr, that was one hell of an article, Nostalgic...
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Old 18th November 2008, 22:36   #5
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Thanks vinit, thanks abdriver-I saw your touching thread on the 1960's Fiat taxi and your attachment with the car. Hope all's well with the car and hope you're getting it transferred for private use.
Thanks egangsta- always nice to hear from you, Landmaster owner
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Old 18th November 2008, 22:42   #6
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Wow doc, that was indeed a touching write-up!

I do however wish that this car gets better attention and is cosmetically restored to originality- did you talk to him about getting this done? Or maybe now that he seldom drives he isnt really interested?
'wonder what car that speedometer is from though.
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Old 18th November 2008, 23:02   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanher View Post
Wow doc, that was indeed a touching write-up!

I do however wish that this car gets better attention and is cosmetically restored to originality- did you talk to him about getting this done? Or maybe now that he seldom drives he isnt really interested?
'wonder what car that speedometer is from though.
Stanher thanksas always ! Mohammed loves the car more than anything else but I could guess that he does not have the inclination or the resources at this age (73) to touch up the car. His only ambition is to maintain status quo with the car and prevent it for going for scrapping.
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Old 19th November 2008, 03:13   #8
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Interesting? I am surprised that its economically viable to have a taxi run on petrol, albeit an old generation petrol that probably gives only 7-8kpl.
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Old 19th November 2008, 03:50   #9
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Beautiful article. I just hope it does not end up in the scrapyard. I am sure one of the TBHPians would come to its rescue!
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Old 19th November 2008, 03:57   #10
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thats so nice!I can see many such old people who keeps many of the things from the past perfectly;not particularly about automobiles though.
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Old 19th November 2008, 08:22   #11
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Hey guys,

First of all AWESOME RIGHT UP!!
Just goes to show you the durability of the landmaster and the attachment an owner has to a car. Mohammed sir, you are a great, great man.

I've got a quick question, one of my grandpa's friend is in search of 60s fiat or 50s landmaster, and seeing Mohammed sirs Landmaster may end his quest. I was wondering, if Mohammed sir is willing to sell his car.

My grandpa's friend like my grandpa is a believer in originality. If he does buy the car, the car will stay intact, with the ohv engine (cleaned polished and brought back to life) and restored to its awesome showroom prowess back in 1957. Any responses are thanked in advance.

FYI my grandpa's friend resides in Kolkata
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Old 19th November 2008, 10:18   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 56landmaster View Post
My grandpa's friend like my grandpa is a believer in originality. If he does buy the car, the car will stay intact, with the ohv engine (cleaned polished and brought back to life) and restored to its awesome showroom prowess back in 1957. Any responses are thanked in advance.
Considering he believes in originality he ought to refit a side-valve engine in the car, as it originally did have, rather than retain the OHV.

And btw doc, sorry forgot to mention- the tail-lamps seem to be from a bajaj auto-rickshaw. Steeroid's landy has also been fitted with these, as can be seen from those pics.

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Old 19th November 2008, 18:52   #13
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Quote:
And btw doc, sorry forgot to mention- the tail-lamps seem to be from a bajaj auto-rickshaw. Steeroid's landy has also been fitted with these, as can be seen from those pics.
Stanher you're very right. Its the Bajaj auto RE tail-lamp. I was thinking its the old matador tail lamps. thanks.
Thanks MPower, Brabus, deepclutch and 56 Landmaster. Yes MPower, it won't deliver more than 8kmpl but he rarely drives these days and the car is always parked at the Railway Station.The Ambys parked to his left and right were all diesel powered (1500DSL BMC engines all).
Yes Brabus thats a good idea teamBHP including me can help.
56landmaster, I amnot very sure as to whether Mohammed will part with the car he is so attached with

Last edited by Rehaan : 19th November 2008 at 19:09. Reason: Quote fixed.
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Old 19th November 2008, 20:18   #14
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@anjan, well written. Hope Mr Mohammed felt appreciated with you doing this.

Suggest you forward @56LM's grand-pa's friend's request to Mr Mohammed. You never know. If not today, then some day ..
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Old 19th November 2008, 20:47   #15
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OT:Vintage Gurus i have a question.
I see that the LM dashboard has Autometer gauges installed. I have also seen an old Enfield Bullet with Autometer speedometer. Were these manufactured by the same American company that makes Autometer performance gauges?
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