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Old 17th September 2010, 12:25   #1
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Default From a 4 Wheel drive to a rear wheel drive. My Contessa

Just like the jeep, this one car had a special place in my heart. My dad was given a jeep to go around. So, this jeep thing in my blood. When his boss came visiting the plant, he comes in a looong and beeg car. It was creme, it had curtains and it was royal. I got a chance to sit in it and i remember only one thing. It was cold, very cold inside. That's all i know of it then. But deep down in my heart the seed was sown.

2 decades later I bought a 1997 1.8Gl Contessa for 40k.

Its a First owner, lady driven and done less mileage. It came with a super chill ac, new Amaron battery, A Sony xplode HU and 2 pioneer 3way spkrs at the rear and 2 xplod spkrs in the front. The sound is decent. The owner promised to provide all the service records as he got it serviced only at southern motors Bangalore. gives me an average of 10 in city and 14 on highway with AC. No serious rust on the inside, under the mats etc but the left hand door and running board has some solid rust craters on the outside. The other problem is that it has been parked in the sun for quiet some time. Probably 3-4 years. This has taken a toll on the interiors and paint. The dash and other plastic items have got baked royally. Grease had evaporated at all joints.

Here are the photos.

The Right hand side looks good.
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The interior is ok. The seats are great but have cracked covers. The rexine on the dash top is baked is craking. Overall the dash rattles a bit. Seat belts on the left and rear are gone.
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Notice the paint in the boot. It is gone and looks very dull.
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Photos of the rusty Left side and peeling dash top

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Got it serviced and the engine is as smooth as butter. I love the engine sound a lot.

I do not have the money to buy a new car and am dead scared of EMIs. With a modest budget of 50-75K all i could find are a few Maruti800's. But i wanted a car for the highways and long drives. 800 isn't for long journeys. So i decided to go for the conty. The problem is that you don't find many Contessas running on the roads these days. Even the govt scrapped them and the car is almost forgotten. And so did i. After seeing some well maintained conty's on the forum the passion reignited.

Over the past few months, i have been reading each and every thread out there on the internet to understand more on the ownership and maintenance woes.
For a jeeper, the maintenance part didn't seem scary nor is it any different from owning and maintaining a jeep. So i decided to go for it.

As my search intensified, i have seen contys that are not upto my expectations. Some are outright costly and some are almost dead. But my search continued and the mistake i have done was to search only online.

One day, i casually went to meet a fellow contessa owner by name Sudhindra and after the initial hi-hello we went for a drive in my jeep in the narrow streets. At one corner of a street, we found a green contessa parked outside and covered in dust. We approached the owner and he is willing to sell it. 2 days later i brought her home. Many thanks to Sudhindra and his conty gang who were there that time.

My story had taught me one thing. The best way to find a contessa is to select one particular area of the town every weekend, tank up a bike and go around each and every street looking for one. I am sure the success rate will be more than finding one online.
Most of owners will be willing to let go. Only a very few will be adamant. Since no one gets shot in the process, its better to approach the owner to know if you are lucky.
Also, these owners are mostly old timers and will never go anywhere near the internet. Most of them are just left in the open...helpless waiting for someone to pick and revive them. Believe me, some might me real gems covered in the dust.

I am already world famous in my area because of my jeep. Now i am a confirmed whacky after my neighbors knew of my new possession. Especially with the uncle types and old timers. They are not happy with my car occupying valuable parking space on the road side.

I don't like the color though. Right now, the car is excellent mechanically except for a few cosmetic knick-knacks.

I am looking for a set of chrome bumpers, the big chrome grill and a new Dash. Any pointers/help will be appreciated.

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Old 17th September 2010, 12:41   #2
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Congrats on acquiring (perhaps the only) the indian muscle car!
Before anything else - please take her to a good body shop and get the rust done away with.
Then repaint the entire car - preferably in the same color or 'racing green' of ritz.
These beauties will continue to grace the roads only because of a few enthusiasts.

P.S: punch someone in the face if they ask 'kinta deti hai' (whats the FE)
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Old 17th September 2010, 12:44   #3
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Hey Krishna. Nice Conti you got there. I too am looking for a good one.

For parts try in gujiri. Lots of Govt. Contis' are being broken.
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Old 17th September 2010, 12:48   #4
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Congrats on your new find and at 40K the car is a steal.
I remember my childhood days riding shotgun in the contessa.
Get it repainted first. Looks to be in a very good condition except for the rust and the interiors.
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Old 17th September 2010, 13:57   #5
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Default Best place to breathe life into it.

Hey Kittigadu.

Being a big time Contessa fan myself, I know the best garage for Contessa at Bangalore who used to tinker, paint, service and do the upholstery for all the Vidhan Sauda Contessa and Ambassador cars at Bangalore. The place used to be a bit expensive but the quality of work was just awesome.

Do let me know if you want this beauty done up like new. All the best.
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Old 17th September 2010, 14:00   #6
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Congrats Krishna.

Do let me know if you need any contacts in gujiri!

Originally Posted by n.devdath View Post
I know the best garage for Contessa at Bangalore
Saar, which garage is this??
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Old 17th September 2010, 16:28   #7
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not sure if this helps, but there is a Garage called ignite in Chennai on ECR, the owner Raghav is the best mechanic/restorer i have ever had the opportunity to meet. You can try reaching out to him if you want to have this car restored back to its prestine glory.

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Old 19th September 2010, 19:39   #8
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This indeed is a wonderful vehicle. I always wanted to and still want to have one!!! And as you said looking at someone else's vehicle ignited your dream, so it did in me!!!
But I am just thinking if I buy one, I do not know who would throw me out of the house first. My parents or my wife!!!
Wonderful vehicle and as BLACKASTA has correctly said Its the only muscle car that was manufacturered my an Indian company.
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Old 19th September 2010, 20:40   #9
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a hearty welcome to be a conti owner. the jeep and conti are 2 extremes of motoring, in my real experience. You have the taste and passion to create, restore machines, so hope to see a gleaming conti in the future.
on road, contessa rocks and offroad, the jeep rules (gypsy owners pls excuse me for this statement - it was not intended to degrade the gypsy in anyway).
Cheers and happy motoring. For any help reg contessa, you can call or contact mahesh (miyers) - he is one guy hell bent upon to help other conti owners, and also a genuine gentleman, who never says a no, if you ask him something. being in bangalore, you can meet him, show your conti, and get his feedbacks - which may be real worthwile and also full hearted. mahesh stays in koramangla so it might be easy for you also.
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Old 19th September 2010, 23:01   #10
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Hey Kittu,

Congrats on an another great buy.

Do you plan to keep the color or change it? Body work at the earlies is required.

And how is the interiors (back seat) holding out?
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Old 20th September 2010, 09:32   #11
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1) Change the rupper hose / pipes under the bonnet.
2) Crome bumpers that came with the Contessa Classic would look better.
3) Paint the car after 3 months by which time technical glitches would be sorted out.
4) Re do the car seats and door pannels and dash while getting the car painted.

Happy s-miles
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Old 20th September 2010, 10:24   #12
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Welcome on board!!! Now that we have met since, spoken/driven and everything else about the car, there is little to be said here. We will start a full new thread about the new initiative and request you exercise restrain on any posts in that direction.

Shek, My humble thanks for your good words. I canít thank you enough for embarrassing me

Last edited by Miyer : 20th September 2010 at 10:28.
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Old 20th September 2010, 17:00   #13
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My dream CAR!!! The conti which is the reason why am in team bhp!
Kittigadu ,my face is right now GREEN with envy!
Except the colour,just like what i wanted her, and that too you got for only 40k.Lucky you.
Looking forward to see her when she comes after all garage works. And please kittigadu, more pics and ...(err. a TD please)
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Old 20th September 2010, 17:15   #14
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1) Congrats on the Contessa, Its sure a great car

2) Chrome bumpers and chrome Grille came on early Conti Classic's only. Well, its a classic look, Retro fitting is easy.

3) What makes you think you need to paint the whole car.............?
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Old 20th September 2010, 17:29   #15
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Congratz on another dream purchase! Its a lovely highway cruiser and is pretty reliable also, once you set it up well. Looking forward to your ownership updates

As far as restoration goes:

First go for the mechanicals. Run her for couple of months. Then go for the body tinker and painting. Like Pawan mentioned if the earlier paint preparation is good, you can complete the job at very less cost.
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