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Old 18th October 2012, 22:13   #16
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Dear fellow vintage car lovers,

I have just moved back to Bombay for another period of work and have to get a car to travel to Lower Parel every day, Daniel

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Yup, its a nicely prepared Padmini, I have seen it upclose, though some points may be considered overdone by many. Nothing too big to reverse though - importantly the car has good bodyline, apparently no rust, good paint and chrome. Also DHABHAR.BEHRAM on the forum wants to sell his similar 67 model, also completely refurbished.
What prices Karl? Nice bodyline but price is way too high. Maybe Philedonos will make him an offer he can't refuse. But for that he may need to take along my uncle from Chicago

I like the maroon chennai car at quarter the price.
I wouldn't mind a fiat someday, put in a webber double barrel with a exhaust, hmmmm and a bit of porting. Yep not bad idea. Does anyone have a mild cam?
Philedonos buy a fiat and do all those things I only dream about. I'll send you to the right person in Mumbai for that.

Faustus what's the other fuel that you're refering to that isn't your preference? Haven't seen those smoking diesel in ages.

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Old 18th October 2012, 23:51   #17
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I have been mentioned on this thread, so why not add my "char annas (bits)".
As mentioned, I have used an Amby as a daily driver for years, gave it up as late as 2011. There is a very good reason for this, just as there is a reason (though not good) for Fiats and Ambys to be the legendary Indian cars.

To the subject, unless one is a glutton for punishment, and generally will use his car for upto 20 KM per day, don't even think of nostalgia and buy ANY of these cars. But if you must, the Fiat is a better self driven car, the Amby a better driver driven car.

Why did I use an Amby regularly for all these years, and what is my experience? The why is simple, we did not have too many cars in the family, and nobody else wanted to use the Amby. That car was almost thrown on the road when other cars came in, and when my brother started driving I thought that it was a good opportunity to have "my" own car for almost all the time and did her up (for the umpteenth time). While using this Amby, I even fitted an AC which was good for my drive to office. After driving 8 KM she heated up, but by then I reached my office. And when I had to go further, elsewhere, with clients or whatever, I almost always took a family car, or kept the AC switched off. I admit that I got used to the Amby, I could drive her better than a Kolkata cab driver, and there are many who cannot properly drive one even now, if you managed the gears then you had problems to get used to the brakes (extremely weak), etc. Many will tell tales of family outings all over India, week long trips and all, but they really had no choice of other cars. Now that there is some choice, most of the cars were thrown away. Just like in East Germany, before the wall fell they waited for years and paid premiums to get Trabants (plastic!! bodied cars with two stroke engines!!). As soon as the Berlin wall fell, these cars were literally thrown away, I have seen them strewn around in Berlin. Those plastic bodies even created a disposal problem. My Amby was also let go immediately when I was offered the old family Merc, a W 124. But I have kept my Amby, I do have lots of sentimental attachment, and fortunately also have a parking place making it possible to keep her after I chose to be more practical.

You have heard about a green car being used daily, that's Bulldogji's 1937/38 Buick Roadmaster. A good and solid car, but not an Amby or Fiat. And Bulldogji also used Ambys for a very long time even after they went out of favor. Bulldogji has a maintenance regime which an ordinary mortal cannot afford to keep up with, when you are stranded you will be delayed, and whom will you call to come to your aid? The days of the roadside mechanics have long passed into history. And availability of spares is not so good, genuine spares are almost only old stock. And no longer cheap.

All those batting for Fiat, Amby, Fiat etc, how many of them do actually use them as a daily car? While many do posses them, and some are additionally now preserving them for the forthcoming Cartier event (Indian classics, btw what is THAT), can you imagine going to office in a hot summer month of May in one of these cars and reaching office smelly and sweaty? Thus, dear Philedonos, you have to consider all pros and cons. Myself, having been there and done that, am very happy to keep the Amby parked and use an old Merc. I got stranded with the Merc once in one and a half years vs on an average once in two months with the Amby.

It sounds romantic to say that we are discussing an Indian motoring ICON, please remember these became Icons by default, faulty government policies to the detrimental cause of Indian motoring, and really did not have much merit going for them. In 1955 to 1960, I would have preferred a better car to be selected, these two have certainly no merit to be alive for so long.

As many have seen, like those running clubs and events, I can be brutally honest, the intention is to convey my personal unbiased and honest experience and then you will have been cautioned. It is also possible to learn from others experience without pain.

Cheers harit

Last edited by harit : 19th October 2012 at 00:02.
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Old 19th October 2012, 00:51   #18
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I have been mentioned on this thread, so why not add my "char annas (bits)".
As mentioned, I have used an Amby as a daily driver for years, gave it up as late as 2011.
and there are many who cannot properly drive one even now, if you managed the gears then you had problems to get used to the brakes (extremely weak), Cheers harit
Since we're on the subject of gears, did your amby too have that funny 3rd gear trait of most ambys, where the lever fell down towards neutral when it was put in third? Unless you had a floor shift? What year was your car? new from the dealer NG or SM?
Ahaa Harit those were the cars we learned to drive on didn't we.

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Old 19th October 2012, 09:08   #19
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Now why dont you catch up with me on the weekend and drive around with me in my Ponton, to get a feel of what it might be like to drive around in a classic car in mumbai. I am happy to lend you my 103E if you promise to take care ciao amol. Is your mobile still the same that i have from before you left for Italy?

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Old 19th October 2012, 12:36   #20
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Talking re: Daily Mumbai traffic in a classic? - Yes! Ambassador bought and restored.

Hi Daniel, Rehaan and Harit have both commented on my daily drive to work , so here is my two penny bit. Harit makes some valid points about Fiats and Ambassadors. Why were they so popular? Only because we had no choice. Can you imagine waiting for three to four years to get one?? Therefore we learnt not only to run them , but also to live with their quirks. Having said that, I have driven all over the country, many a times alone, at night, without batting an eyelid. Was that because of my confidence in the cars? Not really. Just that the mechanicals were so elementary, that I knew I could attend to most of my brakedowns myself. Of course that meant that the dickey which was meant to carry luggage was mostly filled with parts that I thought would require replacement on my trips. Would I out of choice buy one today? the answer is an emphatic NO. But I drive cars that are nearly 80 years old daily. Those were just built better. You could consider a Fiat or some american metal of the fifties. You will have fun, so go ahead, buy and enjoy. And when you have a brakedown, enjoy the atmosphere till help arrives. This will help you to become more patient and tolerant. After all , tomorrow is another day.
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Old 22nd October 2012, 12:18   #21
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Philedonos buy a fiat and do all those things I only dream about. I'll send you to the right person in Mumbai for that.
.
Hello!
So you endorse the Fiat too. But modified. Now, that becomes tricky. I have never liked modified vintage cars, but then the Hindustan and Fiat can't really be called vintage cars, unless I buy an early(pre 1970?) example. Can they?
So I'd have to buy a late, uglier example and fit it with airconditioning. Not much else needed, I am a slow driver. And as a VW ad used to say: What's not there can't break".
Just a personal question: how did you choose your nickname? Deutschafrika stirrs up memories of every sort....

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To the subject, unless one is a glutton for punishment, and generally will use his car for upto 20 KM per day, don't even think of nostalgia and buy ANY of these cars.
========
I got stranded with the Merc once in one and a half years vs on an average once in two months with the Amby.
Dear Harit,
I was waiting for your opinion! Honest as usual, I'd say, and am very happy for that.
Your thoughts bring up an essential question: is regular vintage car driving to be classified as a sub-form of masochism?
I often ask myself why I drive cars like mine and never bought a new car.
This summer, as every year, my old dog, old Traction Avant and not so old me went on holiday together. 6763 km later I had the usual answer: I LOVE IT.
Of course the car broke down (in a steep uphill corner of the Cote d'Azur, bus behind me, as they do).
And I managed to do something to it so that it would bring me back to the hotel (I don't call it repair, as I have no mechanical knowledge whatsoever).
Yes, France in summer in a black car is hot.
Yes my car is original and used the yearly petrol production of Iran to get me from Rome to northern England.
And yes, I had to leave the passenger's seat at home as I coudn't fit the (vintage) luggage otherwise (the boot was full of spares; the wrong ones as usual). Would I do it again? Of course! Would I do it in India. YES.
And I tell you why: the people. In the last 15 years of daily driving 60+ year old cars, I have made some of my most extraordinary friends. Across the countries. Why should India be an exception? Surely you won't let me stranded on the roadside, cursing in Italian. You'd help the way you can. And so will I, if I can, with others. You all showed this with the Argentinians and their world trip, didn't you?
So Harit, prepare your tool kit, list of best addresses and a towing car: I might get stranded next to you soon

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Originally Posted by the mole View Post
Now why dont you catch up with me on the weekend and drive around with me in my Ponton, to get a feel of what it might be like to drive around in a classic car in mumbai. I am happy to lend you my 103E if you promise to take care ciao amol. Is your mobile still the same that i have from before you left for Italy?
This is SO kind of you. Of course I saw your message just now as I was rather busy house hunting/trying to register as an IMMIGRANT/trying to make my dog an immigrant too/get some work done and get used to the spices again....
My mobile number has changed, my final one here now is 9619546522. CIAO!

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Hi Daniel, Rehaan and Harit have both commented on my daily drive to work , so here is my two penny bit. Harit makes some valid points about Fiats and Ambassadors. Why were they so popular? Only because we had no choice. Can you imagine waiting for three to four years to get one?? Therefore we learnt not only to run them , but also to live with their quirks. (...)Of course that meant that the dickey which was meant to carry luggage was mostly filled with parts that I thought would require replacement on my trips. Would I out of choice buy one today? the answer is an emphatic NO. But I drive cars that are nearly 80 years old daily. Those were just built better. You could consider a Fiat or some american metal of the fifties. You will have fun, so go ahead, buy and enjoy. And when you have a brakedown, enjoy the atmosphere till help arrives. This will help you to become more patient and tolerant. After all , tomorrow is another day.
He he, Bulldogji, I absolutely love the way you express your thoughts, on the same lines as mine. My daily driver is a 1937-model car, so we are not that far. Would love to see you driving about, where can you be spotted "in action"?
Some of you say that India was forced to like the FIATs and Ambassadors, but do you think that any European, sane of mind, would have chosen a Citroen 2CV, a Fiat 600, let alone a DAF if there was anything more comfortable? But millions of people did. Because a car is freedom, indipendence, help. And that is something we all search(ed) and seem to forget when thinking about the past. And regarding patience and tolerance: I think I have shown it by deliberatly moving back to Bombay Can't wait to have an outing with you all!

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Old 22nd October 2012, 14:42   #22
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And Why Not???? If 1] you have some amount of mechanical knowledge [and I am sure you do or you could not have driven your Citroen all those many kms] and 2] have a reasonably competent mechanic available[again I am sure that one or two could be found in Mumbai] there is no reason why you couldn't use an old car in Mumbai.
Please bear in mind that I don't really know what the Mumbai traffic is like today I was there last in the late 80's early 90's but I own both an Amby and a Fiat [Amby 65 and Fiat 56] and use them regularly in and around Coimbatore and even doing long runs from Coimbatore to Kodaikanal [160 kms with 65 km of ghat road] besides the trips to Madurai, Ooty, Bangalore, Chennai etc etc.and I have never yet had a "breakdown".
I have had minor problems like having to tighten a fan belt, adjust the clutch etc etc and the ocassional puncture. But I have never in all the many, many kms I have covered over the years of driving, been totally stranded and unable to either reach my destination or to reach home in the same car that I started out in.

I have seen many a "new" car by the side of the road with the bonnet up and helpless looking guys peering into the mysterious depths of the engine bay!!!!

Of course it does help that I can strip down an and rebuild an engine and do all of my own repair and maintaince work on a regular basis and do keep all of my in top mechanical nick.

The main problem you would face in Mumbai stop/start traffic if you have an Amby is overheating, [or actually having a vapor lock in the fuel pump due to heat] especially if you are using an Ac. Assuming that the engine is in good shape,set up correctly and that your radiator is also in good nick you would need only 2 items to be added to the car, 1] a replacement fan... a modern plastic 6 bladed one in place of the old metal 4 bladed one and 2] an eletronic fuel pump in addition to the mechanical one.[this can be installed in line with the mechanical one and controlled by a seperate switch]

If you had no objections to using an eletronic fan this could also be installed and linked to the radiator using a temperature controlled switch.
Other than overheating in stop start traffic there are no major problems in the Amby. Of course gear shifter linkages, brakes etc all have to be up to the mark and regularly checked /adjusted.

If you go for a Fiat the same overheating problem can arise but not to the extent of the Amby's and can be overcome in the same way with a more efficient fan/eletronic fan etc

I hope this helps you decide on your course of action and I am waiting to hear about what you eventualy choose

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Old 22nd October 2012, 14:45   #23
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Hi Daniel, send me a PM with your contact details so that we can be in touch. Kasli began by organising non political drives within the city, now expanded to hill stations which are a comfortable half day drive. It would be nice if you joined us on these drives. I drive an old beauty on a daily basis, irrespective of the weather, when I am in town. Whenever you are in the fountain area, walk round Horniman circle till you spot an old car. Thats me. Come up for a cup of tea/coffee .
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Old 22nd October 2012, 16:06   #24
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[b].....Hello!........ I am a slow driver.
Dear Harit,
I was waiting for your opinion! Honest as usual, I'd say, and am very happy for that....... is regular vintage car driving to be classified as a sub-form of masochism?
I often ask myself why I drive cars like mine and never bought a new car............ I LOVE IT.
Of course the car broke down........... Would I do it again? Of course! Would I do it in India. YES.......... So Harit, prepare your tool kit, list of best addresses and a towing car: I might get stranded next to you soon

He he, Bulldogji, ......... Some of you say that India was forced to like the FIATs and Ambassadors, but do you think that any European, sane of mind, would have chosen a Citroen 2CV, a Fiat 600, let alone a DAF .......regarding patience and tolerance: I think I have shown it by deliberatly moving back to Bombay Can't wait to have an outing with you all!
I loved it too, driving the old car every day, no issues whatsoever, being differently mobiled, all part of the fun. I even took my Amby upto the porch of 5 star hotels when the occasion arose. It was starnge to see that some of these valet drivers could not move an Amby, and some took their time to discuss the Amby, thinking that I am a (....fill in here what you like, don't want to appear communal) Parsi gent. But after a while I did get tired. Earlier I just needed music for my drives, now an AC will help, the heat does drain you in summer in May.
I also used these cars when I went for business meetings, sometimes wearing a tie, I was not happy when I had to put my hands into the engine bay and have greasy fingers. Also, the family is not a part of this hobby, their limits don't have a long reach. Once when the coil got hot my dads business partner was with me, he thought of it as fun having to push the car on the side, I thought of it as an embarassment.
I don't know about your family and work, but I am sure that you have considered ALL aspects and will indulge in a bit of masochism

My point about Ambys and Fiats was that we had no choice. And that is a bad practice to begin with. People drive CV2's etc even today, and those who bought them at that time did have a choice. Just like you have today and may opt for an Indian classic. I would not mind saying that if inplace of the Standard, they built the Mini, in place of the Amby, they had selected a British Ford, and in place of a Fiat, they had selected a Renault, these are just examples of cars which were current and could have been an improvement in the Indian motoring scene. The Fiat was modern in its days, but technology advanced, the present day taxis use CNG as fuel and can barely climb a hill or fly-over.

I would also consider a Maruti Gypsy (maybe not old enough, or a Jeep pre 1975. Jonga also, but they are barely available. These can be real fun.

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And Why Not???? ........ have a reasonably competent mechanic available[again I am sure that one or two could be found in Mumbai] there is no reason why you couldn't use an old car in Mumbai.
.........The main problem you would face in Mumbai stop/start traffic if you have an Amby is overheating, ...............
You are right, slow traffic heats up the cars. Mechanics, workshops etc. are available and one must know where to get a reasonable workshop to work on your car. That will require some searching

Cheers harit

Last edited by harit : 22nd October 2012 at 16:10.
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Old 24th October 2012, 17:04   #25
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The main problem you would face in Mumbai stop/start traffic if you have an Amby is overheating, [or actually having a vapor lock in the fuel pump due to heat] especially if you are using an Ac. Assuming that the engine is in good shape,set up correctly and that your radiator is also in good nick you would need only 2 items to be added to the car, 1] a replacement fan... a modern plastic 6 bladed one in place of the old metal 4 bladed one and 2] an eletronic fuel pump in addition to the mechanical one.[this can be installed in line with the mechanical one and controlled by a seperate switch]
Hello! I must thank you all for your precious advice. If a Forum like this existed for house hunting in Bombay, I wouldn't end up being offered ground floor 1BHKs in Prabhadevi at 70,000Rs
Back to the advise on overheating: very good to know the details, I have suffered similar problems in Rome with my 1923 Citroen, but than that one doesn't even have a fan or water pump, as it works on the thermosyphon principle.
So, I have made my mind up regarding the car, I think: against the advise of most I would actually not go for FIAT, as we have enough of them in Italy but choose an Ambassador, as I really like their plump shape. I have seen a really pretty one in the showroom of National Garage on Bhulabhai Desai Road, wonder if it is for sale....
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Old 24th October 2012, 18:13   #26
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So, I have made my mind up regarding the car, I think: against the advise of most I would actually not go for FIAT, as we have enough of them in Italy but choose an Ambassador, as I really like their plump shape. I have seen a really pretty one in the showroom of National Garage on Bhulabhai Desai Road, wonder if it is for sale....
Hey Philedonos - the one in the NG showroom is a Landmaster with an Ambassador grille. Belongs to the owners I'm told, so I doubt it's for sale..

I'm enjoying reading your thread and the possibilities being thrown up.
I'm a Fiat guy myself, but I can understand you must've had enough of them in Italy - Good luck in your search for a suitable Amby!!
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Old 25th October 2012, 12:13   #27
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I even took my Amby upto the porch of 5 star hotels when the occasion arose. It was strange to see that some of these valet drivers could not move an Amby, and some took their time to discuss the Amby, thinking that I am a (....fill in here what you like, don't want to appear communal) Parsi gent.
Cheers harit
Talking about pulling up to the porch of a five star hotel, we used to have a mint Standard 2000. I was too small to drive, and dad used it only on the weekends thanks to it's long snout and Calcutta's insane traffic.

Couple of times, we went to these hotels in the Standard, mom, dad & me praying that the car doesn't stall! When we were ready to leave, again pray that the car would make it to the porch. And I remember the "oohs" and "aahs" from the others who were also waiting for their cars when the valet pulled up with our car.

That car was such a beauty, virtually every component was made in the UK except as we all know it, the disaster of a drive train. It had custom made nubuck leather door pads and seats, velour ceiling, and the AC would freeze the cabin. But that engine gave us so much grief. After 4 years of little use, the car would randomly start to overheat. Once, just after we pulled in to our house gate from an outing, there was a hissing noise which only became louder and before we knew it, steam was billowing from the engine bay (just like in the movies); the pressure from the heat blew the radiator hose! That was scary. Thereafter, one by one, the head gasket blew and was replaced, the hydraulic clutch made the pedal really hard and the twin SU carbs got of of sync and couldn't be adjusted. Lastly, the car would just die on the road for no apparent reason. Ultimately we traced this to a fault with the ignition switch circuit which we couldn't fix and had to make a bypass connection. After giving us so much grief, we put the car in storage and the car corroded quickly. Sadly, we sent the car to the scrappers at Mullick bazar.

On the other hand, I drive my 20 year old Maruti 800 regularly and though no one gives it a second look, the car has hardly ever given any problems and I still enjoy the car

Prithvi
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Old 25th October 2012, 20:59   #28
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So you have decided on the Amby!! But just seeing a "pretty" looking one is not going to get you a good runner!! I usually make a bee line for the local taxi stand [when I am in a new place and wanting to get info on mechanics/cars] and ask a few drivers who is the best mec around for that paticular make of car. After getting the opinion of 6 to 10 drivers I will meet the mechanic who has the most recomendations and ask him about the availability of cars in his area. Most mechanics in India double as dealers as well so he will surely know what cars there are for sale. Then of course your real work will begin, bargining on the rate, vetting the car and hopefully buying it. Otherwise start the whole process again!!!!! Any way best of luck finding what you need
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Old 1st November 2012, 18:42   #29
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Hi Daniel, send me a PM with your contact details so that we can be in touch. Kasli began by organising non political drives within the city, now expanded to hill stations which are a comfortable half day drive. It would be nice if you joined us on these drives. I drive an old beauty on a daily basis, irrespective of the weather, when I am in town. Whenever you are in the fountain area, walk round Horniman circle till you spot an old car. Thats me. Come up for a cup of tea/coffee .
Hello and sorry for my long silence. Flat hunting here is as enjoyable as a finger in your eye, and hence I lost lots of time. I have found, walikng around from one building to another, a nice Humber of the early '50ies, too expensive though.
I have seen (already in January!) the cars Bulldogji parks at Horniman Circle and always wondered who they belonged to, now I know! I would love to join you for an outing with the old cars, can't PM you though, as you need to be an old, wise, probably royal member to get this function enabled
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Old 1st November 2012, 21:05   #30
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philedonos , while driving around town, i have noticed that there is a suitable car - a 1950s black landmaster - mumbai regd "BJY 10" , however parked at a car dealer's place opposite to Hotel Harsha in shivajinagar at bangalore , thats mostly for sale . interested ?

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