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Old 21st November 2014, 09:46   #601
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As tourism developed in India, Taxi operators turned to STC for foreign made Impalas and MBs for upscale luxury taxis under the DLZ plates (in Delhi) . To augment the growing need for larger cars for not only Delhi tourist business but also elsewhere ,several hundred Plymouth Savoy were imported for India tourism Development Corpn in1960 for ( ITDC) to be used as luxury taxis. A bunch of them were used in Delhi under DLZ plates. Many were sent to various states , again as upper class taxis. These Plymouths were all two tone blue. In Delhi, larger imported cars had white plates with black DLZ numbers and the smaller domestic Ambys had DLY numbers. The photo shows such a car with J & K plate. These Plymouth cars all had the famous slant six engine and manual transmissions. A few years later , 1964 , another lot of Dodge Polara were imported and used as DLZ taxis in Delhi and other states as well. These Dodge Polara were all metallic tan. These cars saw good service as taxis as well state cars ( for ministers !). The import of American cars ended as the choice shifted to MBs and other Europoean, Japanese and Australian makes.
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Nice catch. Looks presentable too, compared to most dieselised cars.

There is one in the Heritage Transport museum in Delhi, plus another in a large collection in the South. I'm sure more survived. I believe these were also offered in the US as taxis with factory fitted diesel engines.

To stir the pot I have a question - for the 54 to 56 Plymouths sold in India how does one differentiate a Belvedere from a Savoy? I suppose it was only trim though hard to me to tell. Were both always offered?
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Old 21st November 2014, 11:50   #602
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My knowledge on the subject is as follows:
1. Option of a Diesel engine did not exist for passenger cars here in the states. Gasoline being cheap and plentiful, even the taxis were gasoline powered. The dedicated taxicabs such as Checker and before them, DeSoto (long wheelbases) were all big engines and gas online powered. Diesel engines were offered in mid 80s as modified V8 , as option first in Full size Chevrolet, Buick and then Cadillac. These were absolute failures. The small block V8 (350 cid) just could not handle the high compression required for diesel operation. Many of these were junked or were replaced with gas motors.
2. When Chrysler Corpn. Entered into collaboration with PAL and assembled Pylmouth, Dodge and DeSoto at the Kurla plant, these were export variant from Canada. Many of us will recall that only the front of the three cars were different and the rear were identical. The rear trunk, tail lights and the interior were all the same. They had the same flat six engines and had no option of radio, AC, transmission or heater or defroster even. I recall the advertised price of the 56 models was around 26-27 thousand ! These cars ruled the Indian road for several year - the 'Forward Look' Plymouth, Dodge and DeSoto were available as four door sedans and station wagons unchanged till about 1958. The subtle change from 1955 to 1956 did show in the tail fins of Plymouth and Dodge, the DeSoto was dropped and did not continue with the raised tail fins.
3. In the States, Savoy was the entry level Plymouth. Belvedere was the upscale and Fury was introduced in 1957 . In India, only the Savoy was produced. The 1959 model Belvedere were imported fully assembled. So was the 1964 Dodge Polara. You are right, the trim level, choice of engine, transmission , interior upholstery etc differentiated the models. Top of the line models had choice of six cylinder or one of several V8 engine, standard or Automatic (further divided into column shift or Push button) and so on and on.
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Old 21st November 2014, 12:04   #603
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My knowledge on the subject is as follows:
1. Option of a Diesel engine did not exist for passenger cars here in the states. Gasoline being cheap and plentiful, even the taxis were gasoline powered.

3. In the States, Savoy was the entry level Plymouth. Belvedere was the upscale and Fury was introduced in 1957 . In India, only the Savoy was produced.
Possibly the diesel cabs were offered in Canada? Or maybe other markets, but I distinctly remember reading about original Perkins engined Plymouth cabs. May not have been successful of course, for the reasons you did mention.

The Belvedere was pretty popular in India I am sure, I remember seeing so many cars with the badge. They couldn't all have been imported. A friend in Pune has a 56 since decades. Identical to the Savoy barring the extra side trim that separates the 2 colours. Bulldogji can you shed more light?
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Old 21st November 2014, 12:04   #604
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Getting back to 59 Plymouth - green / white (plate APY 6066) is left hand drive and is not part of the ITDC fleet. The white (plate BRP 101) certainly could belong to the taxi fleet , it is right hand drive.
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Old 21st November 2014, 22:32   #605
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The Hyderabad Plymouth was originally RHD and converted to LHD. It was the offical car for the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, in late 60s when K Barhmananda Reddy was the CM. Its generally believed that at that point in time the GOI imported these cars and gave it to state governments to use for the CMS. The J&K car too must be their CMS ride.
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Old 21st November 2014, 23:22   #606
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I would like to learn more about conversion of a left hand drive to a right hand. It must involve several components , not just shifting the steering column. In a column shift car, one has to move the entire linkage to the other side not to mention the modification of Clutch, Brake and Gas pedals. Now we come to the instrument cluster and the wiring of the same. The layout of all switches, heater,AC linkages etc. Is this possible and is it not very costly? Besides what is the point of such rebuilding ? Does it not take away from the originality of the car ?
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Old 22nd November 2014, 10:21   #607
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Why would anyone in the right sense in a Right hand drive country convert from Right to Left that also if the car came factory fitted as a RHD ? It does not make sense ? Even I would like to know the jugaaddone for this conversion for my GK.

Most States ordered or purchased the cars thru central transport department ( I really don't know the exact office ) in New Delhi. This usually were cars offered by dealers or companies with a large discount and lots of freebies. Even stock lots or low sale models were offered as long as they looked premium and had the Freebies in tow.

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The Hyderabad Plymouth was originally RHD and converted to LHD. It was the offical car for the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, in late 60s when K Barhmananda Reddy was the CM. Its generally believed that at that point in time the GOI imported these cars and gave it to state governments to use for the CMS. The J&K car too must be their CMS ride.

Last edited by kasli : 22nd November 2014 at 10:22.
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Old 22nd November 2014, 11:29   #608
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This guy was carried away by some prospecting customer , who wanted to take the car to kuwait, hence the LHD conversion, even the dash board was swapped to the left side. Windsheld is perspex,and a lot of compromises. from day one it seemed like a still born project/plan.
Pity a very good car ruined. When put up for sale by Govt about 15 yrs back the reserve was 1100, and no takers.
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Old 22nd November 2014, 11:43   #609
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Does not need to go far . The list that's floating around of the categories for Cartier Travel & Style scheduled for March 2015 has a class just made for the car " FINS" so I am sure he puts a little tag it will sell quick

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Old 22nd November 2014, 19:03   #610
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As tourism developed in India, Taxi operators turned to STC for foreign made Impalas and MBs for upscale luxury taxis under the DLZ plates (in Delhi) . To augment the growing need for larger cars for not only Delhi tourist business but also elsewhere ,several hundred Plymouth Savoy were imported for India tourism Development Corpn in1960 for ( ITDC) to be used as luxury taxis. A bunch of them were used in Delhi under DLZ plates. Many were sent to various states , again as upper class taxis. These Plymouths were all two tone blue. In Delhi, larger imported cars had white plates with black DLZ numbers and the smaller domestic Ambys had DLY numbers. The photo shows such a car with J & K plate. These Plymouth cars all had the famous slant six engine and manual transmissions. A few years later , 1964 , another lot of Dodge Polara were imported and used as DLZ taxis in Delhi and other states as well. These Dodge Polara were all metallic tan. These cars saw good service as taxis as well state cars ( for ministers !). The import of American cars ended as the choice shifted to MBs and other Europoean, Japanese and Australian makes.
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Originally Posted by kasli View Post
Why would anyone in the right sense in a Right hand drive country convert from Right to Left that also if the car came factory fitted as a RHD ? It does not make sense ? Even I would like to know the jugaaddone for this conversion for my GK.

Most States ordered or purchased the cars thru central transport department ( I really don't know the exact office ) in New Delhi. This usually were cars offered by dealers or companies with a large discount and lots of freebies. Even stock lots or low sale models were offered as long as they looked premium and had the Freebies in tow. Cheers
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Does not need to go far . The list that's floating around of the categories for Cartier Travel & Style scheduled for March 2015 has a class just made for the car " FINS" so I am sure he puts a little tag it will sell quick Cheers
The availability of decent prestigious passenger cars ended in 1957, perhaps the Chrysler cars were probably the last. Due to government unspeakable policies the Amby ruled. But the government itself needed cars. So they imported cars. Apparently the first lot were these Plymouths, they became Governor cars, Air India got some. I have a photo of a Belvedere with the Ashok Emblem, could have been a governor car.

Other vehicles which came in bulk were Renault R4, Toyota's and Jeeps, etc through UNICEF.

A big lot were Mercedes W 123 200D for Asian games. United Motors were the agents, but a special agent was appointed for this deal, maybe he was greasing the cars before delivery. Later these were distributed to ITDC for tourist cabs and a few government units, establishments.

But no private tourist taxi guy got to import in upto the 1980's. STC cars were sold to them at a special rate with a rider to return the car to STC after taxi life was over. I have personally seen a Holden or Chevy being returned to STC in Mumbai by a taxi operator and it was being checked. Americans, Russians had lots of vehicles like the Jeep Wagoneers, all those Chevy's, Toyota's etc which went to STC and became taxi's. Many foreign missions imported RHD cars from Australia which again became taxi's.

The import of taxi's is a relatively new phenomenon, started maybe in the 1990's. Many are aware how this system was misused, the Ferrari taxi was an example.

Cheers harit
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Old 25th February 2015, 17:47   #611
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Some time back (2008 actually) I had posted this image to identify.

While browsing through a 2012 issue of Classic & Sportscar magazine, I came across an article on one Josef Ganz, a designer and engineer in Nazi Germany, who's ideas of a people's car bore a startling resemblance to the VW. He was even on a VW pension towards the end.

Amongst the cars he built was the German Standard Super and Superior. This image is shown with the text "putting the Swiss volkswagen prototype through its paces in 1937". Keep in mind here the term 'volkswagen' is purely people's car, and nothing to do with the VW Beetle.

I think it is pretty significant!
Dear Karl, this is a very interesting find! I found your post by chance. I am happy to see that you have already identified the car as developed by Josef Ganz. The black&white photo is one of the prototypes. The car you discovered in India is one of a very small series of around 40 cars built by the Rapid company in Switzerland in 1945/1946. Two other cars still exist, one in the Verkerhshaus Luzern (CH) and one in the Louwman Museum (NL). I researched the complete history of Josef Ganz and his work on the Volkswagen, which is told in my book 'The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz - The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler's Volkswagen'. It would be fabulous if the location and the owner of the Indian Rapid "Swiss Volkswagen" could be found!! Many thanks, Paul.

Last edited by karlosdeville : 26th February 2015 at 11:10. Reason: Adding quote for reference
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Old 26th February 2015, 11:11   #612
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Dear Karl, this is a very interesting find! I found your post by chance. I am happy to see that you have already identified the car as developed by Josef Ganz. The black&white photo is one of the prototypes. The car you discovered in India is one of a very small series of around 40 cars built by the Rapid company in Switzerland in 1945/1946. Two other cars still exist, one in the Verkerhshaus Luzern (CH) and one in the Louwman Museum (NL). I researched the complete history of Josef Ganz and his work on the Volkswagen, which is told in my book 'The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz - The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler's Volkswagen'. It would be fabulous if the location and the owner of the Indian Rapid "Swiss Volkswagen" could be found!! Many thanks, Paul.
Welcome Paul. It should be a fascinating book I am sure.

Do any records survive of these 40 cars? Any ledger recording location of delivery etc? I wonder how such an obscure car would have come in to India. Probably through a diplomat or a German engineering firm with interests here.

I am afraid I simply can't recollect where I found the photo from, it was years back. And nobody else seems to remember the car either. But it will turn up soon enough I am sure.
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Old 26th February 2015, 17:32   #613
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So far I have not been able to find any records for the 40 or so cars, but I have asked the company that built them in the 1940s. They do still have some original construction drawings... I can imagine that the cars were sent to various locations where there was an interest in selling the car, since the 40 cars were intended to be a pre-production run. However, serial production never happened... I do know that people behind the "Swiss Volkswagen" project sent out press releases to many places and negiotiated with potential importers or companies interested to build the car under license. For example, deals were made in France and Poland. I also found a reference to interest from Turkey in the car, already before WWII.

Yes, let's hope some clues towards the location of the Indian car turn up! It's really fascinating that a 3rd car has survived! An unrestored red Rapid "Swiss Volkswagen" was added to the collection of the Louwman Museum only last June, when I gave a presentation about the car and a new edition of my Dutch book about Josef Ganz.



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Old 27th February 2015, 11:21   #614
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These links will interest those who wish to know more about Josef Ganz & his cars.

http://www.ganz-volkswagen.org/books/index.htm - Belong to Paul Schilpoord (our member josef-ganz)

https://thevolksfool.wordpress.com/tag/josef-ganz/

Regards,
Sonu
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Old 19th April 2015, 21:55   #615
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Here is a pre-war car I can't positively identify - maybe a Vauxhall? Registration is Bombay pre 1939

Unidentified Vintage and Classic cars in India-01.jpg
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