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Old 8th October 2011, 22:12   #1
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Default Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Hi all,

need your help as i am planning to buy a contessa and confused about petrol & diesel engine.

I currently have a santro and had a dream to buy a contessa which i want to full fill now. I have seen few posts in the classified section but not sure if the price tag of the cars worth spending.

Is it a better idea to buy a car below 40K and restore it or buy a well maintain car with higher price tag... i have seen some post for a 1997 diesel engine for about 1.89L.. do you think its worth spending that amount ?

Need your quick advice. Thanks in advance.

Regards,
Nitin
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Old 9th October 2011, 11:04   #2
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

I have breifly owned a Contenssa and then an Amby Avigo for about 3.5 yrs, both of these were petrol. The Petrol engine is a War Machine and will not give you any trouble, overheating in summers is a concern, the FE on the Contessa I don't remember and never logged but on the Amby it was 7.75 kmpl averaged over 3.5 yrs, the Contessa was a carbed one and not MPFI hence may have delivered +or -.5 kmpl.
The best part about both these cars is the ride quality which is fantastic, however in the Amby I had uneven tyre ware.
If you don't mind fuel prices and want to enjoy your ride then buy the Petrol, the old carbed one's may have some scope to modify as well, not the MPFI's I suppose, however if I were you I would go in for the diesel, casue these are not fast machines and slow rides are what you should enjoy, if you want fast car then don't buy any one of these as a good Esteem will eat them up any day, it is the slow ride and old world charm that you should be interested in if you are buying any one of these, by the by I have touched 125 kmph on the Amby Avigo and that's it's max.
I would say think again and buy a good modern day sedan, however if your heart says buy any one of these then just go ahead and do so, I don't repent buying the Amby and will always cherish the time spent with him, and I mention him not it, as that's the impact he had on me, I used to call him The Bull.

Last edited by musicmanaman : 9th October 2011 at 11:06.
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Old 9th October 2011, 11:15   #3
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

At the outset I'd advice you to avoid buying a contessa. There are many things to love in the car, most notably the design. But its an HM product, AND a 40 year old design. Except the petrol engine (which happens to be a 1.8 ltr ISUZU) the rest of the car is a bucket of nagging maintainence. You will have issues with rust, tyre wear, suspension bushes, and constant rattles. Not a very fairytale ownership experience unless you're used to handling classics.

If you still have to, go for the 1.8 MPFI. Its a fantastic, fast engine. Avoid the diesel. Its a slow donkey, and quite maintainence prone.
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Old 9th October 2011, 15:10   #4
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

I believe apart from the problems listed above you would have trouble registering the car in delhi (I guess now most of the country) as its a non euro compliant engine.

Just in case if you are sure about buying and have found a way to sort out these problems then i would suggest a petrol one over Diesel. The earlier Diesels were not reliable and made a racket when moving, Petrols in comparison were better.
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Old 9th October 2011, 15:24   #5
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

One more to be noted about the Contessa is that it was first launched with the same Amby petrol engine and was grossly underpowered.
Powering with the existing engine was the glorious thinking on the part of the Indian auto majors of that period. Even the initial plans of PAL was to launch the 118 NE with the 1100's engine. But courtesy Nissan they got the fine 1.18Ltr Nissan Engine NE for short in Sunny agreement with Nissan. The Standard motors launched the Standard 2000 with the engine (Vauxhall derived) of the Standard 20 van.
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Old 9th October 2011, 15:58   #6
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by adroit View Post
i am planning to buy a contessa and confused about petrol & diesel engine. I currently have a santro. not sure if the price tag of the cars worth spending. Is it a better idea to buy a car below 40K and restore it or buy a well maintain car with higher price tag... i have seen some post for a 1997 diesel engine for about 1.89L.
Word of advice from one Nitin to another, if you've owned a Santro then getting a Contessa or an Ambassador would be nothing like you current ride. Driving a modern-day Santro got you reliability, easy availability of spares, and a value-for-money deal. If you were to get a classic, you would be spending lots on maintenance and spending close to 2 lakh on a 1997 car is more than what most people would think makes financial sense although you can get one for 40k as a weekend drive if it is in running condition and doesn't have body rust. You can get a 2004 Esteem diesel for 1 lakh and those will still run rather reliably if you don't mind the lack of power (58 bhp compared to the 75 bhp in a Ritz/Swift/DZire/SX4).

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Originally Posted by musicmanaman View Post
if you want fast car then don't buy any one of these as a good Esteem will eat them up any day, by the by I have touched 125 kmph on the Amby Avigo and that's it's max.
The Esteem petrol may have been a vehicle for speeding down the road but not the diesel variant. The Esteem Di got you the farthest on a litre of diesel and was great for cruising on the highways.

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Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
At the outset I'd advice you to avoid buying a contessa. the rest of the car is a bucket of nagging maintainence. You will have issues with rust, tyre wear, suspension bushes, and constant rattles.
Rust and rattles was a problem with my 7-year-old Esteem Di as well but I'm glad I don't have to get a new set of tyres before the old ones have done their time and the suspension is holding up rather well. The rattle from starting up the Peugeot TUD5 and hearing the grunt from accelerating is a part of the Esteem diesel experience and downshifting to overtake on the highway is fun too. Given the choice, however, I would trade it in for a newer sedan simply because getting stranded in the middle of the highway is not going to be a pleasant experience.
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Old 9th October 2011, 16:25   #7
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Personally, I would love to take up a contessa as a project and get it revamped. It was one my favourite cars ever. But, considering that any contessa you do find will probably already have a lot of distance on it, it will require constant care and maintenance and is viable only as a project. Most of the models listed in the classified section have at least 40,000 km on them.
Not a good idea if you are not used to it and it definitely won't be a reliable primary vehicle in Delhi one year from now.
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Old 9th October 2011, 16:49   #8
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

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Originally Posted by adroit View Post
Need your quick advice. Thanks in advance.
Who buys Contessa these days? My sincere advice move - on. There are many contemprory exotics available, take any one of those and enjoy. Why you going several decades back?

IMHO Contessa is not a car to boast off.

Last edited by anujmishra : 9th October 2011 at 16:51.
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Old 9th October 2011, 17:26   #9
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

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Originally Posted by k_nitin_r View Post
Rust and rattles was a problem with my 7-year-old Esteem Di as well but I'm glad I don't have to get a new set of tyres before the old ones have done their time and the suspension is holding up rather well. The rattle from starting up the Peugeot TUD5 and hearing the grunt from accelerating is a part of the Esteem diesel experience and downshifting to overtake on the highway is fun too. Given the choice, however, I would trade it in for a newer sedan simply because getting stranded in the middle of the highway is not going to be a pleasant experience.
Dude, I was talking about the contessa, that's what the topic of the thread is. Why ARE you evaluating the Esteem Di with the parameters I talked about?
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Old 9th October 2011, 17:34   #10
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Dude, I was talking about the contessa, that's what the topic of the thread is. Why ARE you evaluating the Esteem Di with the parameters I talked about?
Hi! I didn't mean to disrespect your view, but was simply stating that some of the aspects apply to the relatively newer diesel vehicles that were introduced before the market evolved and CRDi vehicles became ubiquitous. I wanted the OT to know what to expect from the purchase of a used diesel vehicle from the pre-CRDi era (although I won't generalize and say that just because a vehicle has a CRDi engine it won't rattle like its predecessors).
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Old 9th October 2011, 17:58   #11
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Guys,

thanks to all of you for your valuable suggestions. I indeed buy your point that modern diesel cars would anyday a better & wiser choice to make. Reason, i want to buy contessa is because i like the looks of the car like anything.. Its been really long i wanted to buy the car but since the priority for easy going daily commuting low maintenance car, i went to buy a Santro based on my budget.

Its been 5 years i am running on this car and want to get a change. Initially i was thinking to buy Tata Safari but later i thought why not to keep the santro and buy a contessa which can be further restored to new look.

I don't have deep knowledge about auto technologies but i love the machines like anything and have a great passion about it.

I had the similar suggestions being given when i decided to buy a Bullect Electra over a Bajaj Pulsar. Puslar was a advance machine with better performance on low maintenance but i chose Bullet.

Trust me guys, its anyday better to ride a Bullet over any plastic bike, no matter how advance the other bikes are.

i have the similar feeling about contessa. I was chatting with a mechanic today and he suggested me to buy a petrol version on cheaper cost and swap the petrol engine with a diesel one.

I don't know how cost effective it will be and will be practical. I don't mind spending 1 - 1.5 L on this car...

Please let me know your views on it.
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Old 9th October 2011, 18:52   #12
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

@Adroit, apples are apples & oranges are oranges. Just because your call on a Bullet vs Pulsar was good, it does not mean the same can be repeated with the Contessa. The Bullet remains a good machine, then & now. If not anything else, you still have some serviceablity left.

But with the Contessa - I dont have hopes. Your mechanic says Conti petrol. Say you get it. And tomorrow your mech moves out - or his servicing is not as it is now. Then what ?

I echo the general opinion about the Contessa. No matter how much one likes the car, one still needs to be practical too. Esp with a primary vehicle. Even with the Amby, and the number of cars that were sold, Amby afficiandos still struggle with it's maintenance. Now think how much more difficult it will be with the Conti.

Suggest any newer, contemporary car. Even an Octi 1.9TDi. Or any other good, comfortable modern diesel. Or Petrol.
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Old 12th October 2011, 20:22   #13
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by adroit View Post
Guys,

thanks to all of you for your valuable suggestions. I indeed buy your point that modern diesel cars would anyday a better & wiser choice to make. Reason, i want to buy contessa is because i like the looks of the car like anything.. Its been really long i wanted to buy the car but since the priority for easy going daily commuting low maintenance car, i went to buy a Santro based on my budget.

Its been 5 years i am running on this car and want to get a change. Initially i was thinking to buy Tata Safari but later i thought why not to keep the santro and buy a contessa which can be further restored to new look.

I don't have deep knowledge about auto technologies but i love the machines like anything and have a great passion about it.

I had the similar suggestions being given when i decided to buy a Bullect Electra over a Bajaj Pulsar. Puslar was a advance machine with better performance on low maintenance but i chose Bullet.

Trust me guys, its anyday better to ride a Bullet over any plastic bike, no matter how advance the other bikes are.

i have the similar feeling about contessa. I was chatting with a mechanic today and he suggested me to buy a petrol version on cheaper cost and swap the petrol engine with a diesel one.

I don't know how cost effective it will be and will be practical. I don't mind spending 1 - 1.5 L on this car...

Please let me know your views on it.
I appreciate your attitude. Maybe because I'm quite similar minded. If you like something, it's worth taking the risk for your mental satisfaction and doing something that you dreamed about. However, such things are usually 'stupid' for those who are thinking in a practical perspective.

That being said, I won't recommend you getting a petrol Contessa is the FE is just 5-8 kmpl because after too much effort and money on restoration, you DO need to drive your car. However, I have no knowledge about the FE of a petrol Contessa so thoughts from experienced BHPians are welcome.

There is a diesel performance product called "Pete's Tuning Box" but I am not sure if it can significantly enhance the performance of a diesel Contessa but again, someone can enlighten us on this aspect as well.

I will be closely watching this thread as I also secretly nurtures a passion to buy and re-build a contessa
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Old 12th October 2011, 20:43   #14
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

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There is a diesel performance product called "Pete's Tuning Box" but I am not sure if it can significantly enhance the performance of a diesel Contessa but again, someone can enlighten us on this aspect as well.
Noble idea, except it won't work . A Pete's Tuning box is a chip which alters the programming of the ECU. The Contessa Diesel used the Isuzu 4FC1 engine, which was a 2.0 ltr SOHC engine making 69 bhp. And it didn't have an ECU.
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Old 12th October 2011, 20:47   #15
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Default Re: Contessa Diesel or Petrol ?

LOL @ Predator: I think that's supposed to be pretty basic. Sorry for missing that out. Do you think he can install the same on the last generation MPFI contessas and even if he can, will there be any performance enhancement?
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