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Old 26th January 2015, 16:30   #106
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Found this interesting article on the history of the Premier Padmini in India,
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Long before the iPad got invented in Cupertino, California, India had its own 'Pad' to enjoy. And, laying hands on one of these in the seventies and eighties was even more challenging than queuing, overnight, outside an Apple store for a new iPad version. Indians who wanted a Pad had to wait not for days or weeks, but years.

The wait culminated with a call from the dealer, asking the lucky owner to pick it up. More often than not, besides the buyer's immediate family, friends and well-wishers, too, gathered to celebrate the Pad's home-coming.

Pad was a moniker for the Premier Padmini, which became the jewel in the crown of the Mumbai-based Walchand Hirachand Group. Formed in 1944, Premier started production right after India's independence and churned out Plymouth cars and Dodge trucks, built under licence from the Chrysler Corporation of the US. But under then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, India functioned as a socialist state and cars were considered a luxury, and of low priority.

"This is ironic as the automobile industry transformed the economies of the US, South Korea and even war-ravaged Germany and Japan, turning them into industrial powerhouses," says an industry veteran, who worked closely with the company.

Premier could only move forward by bringing in a small car that would not have the trappings of luxury. In 1952, it entered into a licence agreement with Italy's Fiat to bring the Fiat 1100. In the sixties and seventies, the Government of India imposed price and volume controls and banned upgrade or model change by the passenger vehicle industry. The price control was completely lifted only in 1985.

By 1972-73, the agreement with Fiat was vacated, on the government's insistence for local production. After a year of being rolled out as the Premier President, from a plant in Mumbai's Kurla, the car was renamed, finally, as the Premier Padmini in 1974.

It is said that the government objected to the name 'President'. Padmini's reference to the legendary queen of Chittor and her beauty was even captured in an ad later on. The car had a price-tag of Rs 30,000, with a 1.1-litre petrol engine, producing 40-bhp peak power.

Unlike the chubby Ambassador from Hindustan Motors, the Padmini, with its modern, sleek lines and uncluttered look, appealed to women, celebrities and young buyers in the 1970s-80s. While the 'built-like-a-tank' Amby became a favourite with government officials and politicians, the Padmini drove into the hearts of the upper middle-class. Both had foreign antecedents - the Ambassador evolved from the Morris Oxford III and the Padmini from the Fiat 1100.

The Tamil superstar Rajinikanth, yesteryear's evergreen actor Dev Anand and actor-producer Aamir Khan have all been owners of the Padmini. The car has also weaved its way into Bollywood, immortalised in songs such as 'Seene me jalan...' sung by Suresh Wadkar in the movie Gaman and in movies, the most recent being the John Abraham-Nana Patekar-starrer Taxi No. 9211.

The Padmini entered the Mumbai taxi market in the late-60s, when Premier approached the state government to encourage products by Maharashtra-based companies. Earlier, Mumbai's taxis used to be Ambassadors. Easy and cheap to maintain, with legroom for travellers and a boot for luggage, the Padmini was considered safe and practical, and did well as a taxi after its introduction.

Contrary to popular perception, the taxi business was a small fraction of the total monthly sales of the Padmini. Out of 3,400 cars sold every month, only 300 were sold as taxis. The taxi business was more of a CSR activity for Premier, as the cars were subsidised. Premier made no money from its taxi business, notes a historian.

By the late-70s, Padmini's market share reached 99 per cent with more than 38,000 vehicles plying in Mumbai. Padminis were also used as taxis in other markets, but none of these were the size of Mumbai's taxi fleet.

The highest volume achieved by the Padmini was of 37,000 units in 1987. This was inspite of the onslaught from the Maruti 800, which was a brand-new car with nearly 15-20 per cent price subsidy from the government. By then, the Padmini had versions with ACs and tinted glass windows as well.

But with the nineties downing the entry barriers to multinationals and with stricter pollution-control norms, Premier found Padmini's engine to be unfit to face competition. By 2000, it stopped producing the car, with the Kurla plant suffering a lock-out after a workers' strike the following year.

It turned to focus on commercial vehicles.

The Padmini taxis are also on their way out, being scrapped after the government decreed that above-20-year-old cabs won't be allowed to run. The remaining 'kali-peeli' (black-yellow) Padmini cabs on Mumbai's streets are now being eagerly replaced by Hyundai Santro, Maruti 800, Maruti Suzuki Wagon R and Tata Indica.
Source: http://www.business-standard.com/art...2201282_1.html

My jaw dropping moment from this article
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By the late-70s, Padmini's market share reached 99 per cent with more than 38,000 vehicles plying in Mumbai
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Old 15th April 2015, 12:06   #107
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Some rare archival shots of an assembly line - to be honest I cannot identify the cars being built - possibly Chevy Fleetmasters? Note the split front screen.

History of Cars in India-37446.jpg

History of Cars in India-37447.jpg

History of Cars in India-37449.jpg

History of Cars in India-37456.jpg

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Paddle soldering on passenger car bodies to remove surface irregularities.
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Metal finishing all steel turret top of passenger car bodies to remove surface irregularities prior to painting.
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Assembling and electric spot-welding of passenger car under bodies
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Storage of rear quarter panels, passenger car bodies; in upper right corner operators are pasting insulating materials on inside the turret top; right; metal finishing turret top.
http://photodivision.gov.in/waterMar...p?id=37456.jpg
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Old 15th April 2015, 13:31   #108
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The Thai Prince visiting Premier Automobiles in May 1992

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http://photodivision.gov.in/waterMar...id=cn38217.jpg
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Old 21st April 2015, 10:32   #109
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On checking out some older posts I came across this very interesting link by norton4ever of a book published in 1915 with details on car imports and dealers

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/pre-w...ml#post1792383
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Old 22nd April 2015, 14:19   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Some rare archival shots of an assembly line - to be honest I cannot identify the cars being built - possibly Chevy Fleetmasters? Note the split front screen.

http://photodivision.gov.in/waterMar...p?id=37456.jpg
Some more from the same assembly line with more hints

History of Cars in India-37445.jpg

History of Cars in India-37453.jpg

History of Cars in India-37454.jpg

History of Cars in India-37455.jpg

History of Cars in India-37457.jpg

Courtesy: Photo division
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Old 18th May 2015, 12:36   #111
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The Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru's inspects a motor cycle rickshaw during his visit to Bombay in April 1948. Motor-cycle rickshaw was then a new addition to the transport in Bombay.
What motorcycles were these Rickshaws based on?

History of Cars in India-3484.jpg

Source: Photodivision GOI
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Old 18th May 2015, 13:21   #112
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Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
What motorcycles were these Rickshaws based on?

Attachment 1371907

Source: Photodivision GOI
This is a photo of Pandit Nehru been test driven in a vespa based rickshaw by Mr Firodia
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Old 18th May 2015, 13:56   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
What motorcycles were these Rickshaws based on?

Attachment 1371907

Source: Photodivision GOI
Quote:
Originally Posted by the mole View Post
This is a photo of Pandit Nehru been test driven in a vespa based rickshaw by Mr Firodia
Piaggio made the Vespa scooter and the Ape three wheeler (later even with closed bodies). The basic principle is still more or less unchanged for Bajaj rickshaws of today. Here is a rare picture of one doing duty, courtesy Khanak

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Old 19th May 2015, 16:51   #114
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INDIAN INTERNATIONAL ENGINEERING EXHIBITION, JAN. 1951.
De Luxe Minicar – weighing only 375 lbs (scarcely more than one quarter as much as any orthodox model more British market), giving 85 miles per gallon one and having a maximum speed of 43 m p.h. is two seater British Miniature car, priced at the Rs. 6, 000/-.
History of Cars in India-24067.jpg

Source: Photodivision GOI
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Old 16th June 2015, 10:55   #115
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An image of Bosch's facilities in Calcutta back in the day, from their corporate website

History of Cars in India-00.jpg
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Old 16th June 2015, 16:15   #116
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A couple of months ago I was contacted by a relative of a Mr Pestonjee B Press who, between 1878 and about 1930, owned the Fort Coach Factory in Mumbai.

The company originally produced high quality carriages for horse drawn vehicles but in the early 1900 it started to construct bodies for car chassis.

I know that in 1905 Pestonjee’s son started to study motor manufacturing with companies such as the British Daimler Company and the French Brazier Motorcar Company and that by late 1906 the company was fitting bodies to Brazier cars imported into India.

I plan to add a write-up on the Fort Coach Factory in my Carhistory4u.com web site.

I know this is a long shot but does anyone have information on the car bodies made by the Fort Coach Company or information on imported Brazier or Daimler cars of that period?
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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Here is a period advertisement of the Fort Coach Factory, that was also on display at the Expo in January.
Here is a little bit about Pestonjee Press from a 1939 edition of "Parsi Lustre on Indian Soil"

History of Cars in India-press01.jpg

History of Cars in India-press02.jpg
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Old 16th June 2015, 18:41   #117
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Originally Posted by karlosdeville View Post
Here is a little bit about Pestonjee Press from a 1939 edition of "Parsi Lustre on Indian Soil"

Attachment 1382624

Attachment 1382625

History of Cars in India-bhavnagar-coach.jpg

Above is the Bhavnagar coach made by the Fort Coach Factory.

More details / courtesy:

http://www.ago.net/carriage
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Old 12th November 2015, 13:01   #118
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An ad for API showing the range of products they supplied

History of Cars in India-api01.jpg

I believe they were also assembling Hillman Minxes.
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Old 15th March 2016, 10:43   #119
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In November of 1934 General Motors published this booklet, giving valuable insight into GM's operations in India in the early years. The first car was built as early as December 4th, 1928. Unfortunately there is no mention of exactly what models were produced here.

History of Cars in India-3401.jpg

History of Cars in India-3402.jpg
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Old 8th June 2016, 11:11   #120
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I came across this clipping a few days back - now I cannot recall exactly where - maybe from Anjanji's vast archives.

History of Cars in India-die.jpg

It talks about the "Venas Arun 500" - reportedly India's first wholly indigenous diesel automobile. It is also referred to as "The economical Roadster"
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