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Old 27th March 2015, 18:52   #1
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Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Sipani. The Dolphin. The Badal. The Montana.

Can you honestly tell me- You've heard of them?

95% of the time, I assure you- The answer will be NO.

NO. Well- Why not make the NO- a reassuring Yes!

Found this Polish site, with excellent content pertinent to Sipani. Keen observers will note more than half the content is taken off T-BHP. I was actually *shocked* to see a MH 12 registered car on a Polish site.


As this thread is pretty long- Go and get yourself a popcorn. And budget some thirty minutes, if need be.

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Old 27th March 2015, 19:08   #2
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

The story of one of the long forgotten indigenous carmakers lies forgotten in the mists of time. At times, it may seem hazy, and even unclear- yet, I'll try to state whatever is known best to me.

Let us not forget- Long before Team-BHP, long before all the FIAT fanboys started patronizing the Palio, long before this era of ECU controlled cars, a very different Indian market used to exist.

India could hardly be called 'democratic'- in the true sense. These were the days, when our markets were closed. Starting from the 'Fifties, it has been noticed, that our growth slowed down. Sometimes, even to that extent, that our growth levels were negative.


According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:
The development strategy was changed radically in 1956 with the initiation of the Nehru-Mahalanobis model of industrial development that emphasized the development of heavy industry under the public sector. Domestic industry was protected from foreign competition through high tariff walls, exchange-rate management, controls and licences. This strategy of import substitution and heavy-industry promotion has been criticized for having created a non-competitive, inefficient, capital-intensive and high-cost industrial structure.
It is further argued that this policy discriminated against labour-intensive tradeable agriculture and resulted in unwarranted export pessimism because of excessive concern about self-sufficiency. The criticism, however, must be balanced against the fact that during this period India atttempted to build a large infrastructure not only in heavy and machine goods industries, but also in the areas of power, irrigation, credit, higher education, scientific research and training.

It has also to be noted that the mid-1960s and early 1970s were characterized by serious economic problems. First, because of wars with neighbours, large resources were diverted towards defence, resulting in a sharp decline in public investment that adversely affected the growth of the economy. Second, the foreign exchange situation forced India to devalue its currency in 1966.

Devalue its own currency.
That was how bad the situation was. Even worse in fact.

A simple graph, which I got online, explains matters easily- well- to an extent anyway:

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Economic reforms were badly needed in 1991. If not, imagine- the 'What Car' Section here would have only a couple of threads running, as of 2015.

Ambassador vs Premier Padmini.

Ambassador Nova vs Premier Padmini S1.

Ambassador BMC Diesel vs "Matador" Engine Ambassador.

Premier 118NE vs Hindustan Contessa.

Premier 1.38D (118NE diesel) vs Isuzu engined HM Contessa.

So cute, na?

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Old 27th March 2015, 19:13   #3
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

It was during this chaotic era, that Sipani Motors existed. They were founded in 1973.

A pic- to *spice* up this seemingly boring history lesson.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani.jpg

The long-forgotten Dolphin being rallied by Team-MRF, circa 1987. Today- Mitsubishi Lancer's/Cedia's occupy the same place.

Note how hard it is being driven. Note the position of the mirror. Full rally lights, and horns in position. Love it!

Photo Credits: / @ Race27.

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Old 27th March 2015, 22:18   #4
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Did you get yourself the popcorn? If no- please do get it!

The Second Five year plan effectively screwed up the Indian Development agenda. Forget about a new Indian Republic that was effectively a replica of the British system- This was replaced by something called 'Nehruvian Socialism'.

I've mentioned this in the previous post in this very thread.

What happened to the Indian Automotive Industry?

Simple. An already nascent industry was screwed up. Destroyed. Upto 1955-56, we can see evidence of American carmakers being present here. Dodge, DeSoto- The Chrysler Corp- In short. Also, Studebaker, of South Bend, Indiana. After 1956-57, were the Dodge Kingsways, Plymouth Savoy's, and DeSoto Diplomats assembled in India?

Nope. The industry was finished, only leaving players like PAL and HM to compete. PAL licensed the FIAT 1100, and HM recycled the Morris Oxford- and kept on selling that damned bit of contraption till 2014. Since HM was backed by the Birla's, they were a favorite of the lawmakers. Even in the 'Fifties, right thru 2014.

How Premier and Standard survived in this world? I *really* wonder.

Yes- Standard of Madras played a role too. A very limited role- although, it can be argued that they were quite successful. The Herald, Pennant (technically, the Standard 10)- and the Standard Gazel (which was the first indigenously designed car- incidentally) were *quite* successful, indeed, compared to the oft-sold Amby and FIAT 1100/PP.

What is even lesser known is the fact that Standard did launch a car better than the lawmaker's favorite- The Ambassador, in the late 'Fifties. This one, was the Standard Vanguard P-III.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-1956standardvanguard3.jpg
Looks good- Wot? I prefer this over the Ambassador/Landmaster. What is certain is this car sold in very few numbers, and was soon pulled out of production.

Why? Was it merely because of our sarkaar? You be the judge.

Pic was sourced from T-BHP.

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Old 27th March 2015, 22:47   #5
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Here we are. The 'Swinging Sixies. The Indian Automotive Industry was swinging. Backwards! HM, PAL, and STAMPRO. Hindustan- Premier-Standard. The three idiots. The three musketeers. Whatever.

The ratio of Amby to FIAT 1100 sales- I forgot it. LOL. 5:2 or somewhat similar. Oh- OEMs these days have pretty high expenditures on R&D, right?

How much was the market leader HM's R&D expenditure in the 'Sixties? One Million rupees? Nope. Nada. One hundred thousand? N O ! !
Okay, you'll opine. Seventy or Eighty thousand per year. Nope. LOL.
How much then?

A few hundreds- in all probability.

How much did our FIAT 1100D cost us, in 1972? 18000 INR. LOL- Compare this to the approximate spend on R&D.

Such was the disastrous effect 'socialism' had, on our automotive industry. Effectively, there was ZERO competition.

And proportionally- ZERO Research and Development.

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Old 27th March 2015, 22:53   #6
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Sipani came across as a fresh breath of air, in this useless industry. They were founded, circa 1973. In Bangalore (and NOT 'Bengaluru')

Fresh breath of air. Fresh. Or Was it stale?

Stale. Indeed.

Many of us will recall watching Rowan Atkinson, in the utterly loveable 'Mr. Bean' Television series, back in the 'Nineties. This on was shown on television, well upto the late 2000's. Ah-The eccentric Bean! And his Mini 1000. That car- was well, and truly, a design genius. Besides- The very car in question-- Green bodywork, and the black bonnet, is well, and truly, a *cult* icon.

How many of us remember him knocking off a blue three wheeler in an almost *comical* fashion?

Kindly go through the below video:

The blue car- Not quite a car actually, rather, a quadricycle. But, this has three wheels, so, as Wikipedia opines, we shall call it a 'three wheeled' car, shall we?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the 'blue car' in question is a Reliant Robin.

Note- The car was almost entirely built using *fibreglass*
. It was the second most popular fiberglass car in history, with the Reliant Motor Company being the second biggest UK-owned car manufacturer for a time.

A picture says a thousand words.
Or so they say. Thus, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby stop my boring history lesson () for a while, and:
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-reliant-rbin.jpg
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-reliant_robin.jpg
The "Roaring Seventies", as some prefer to call that decade, was a particularly turbulent decade for us petrolheads. The 1973 Suez Oil Crisis ( - effectively curtailed the performance cars market. The Mustang became a mere shadow of it's former self. Effects were felt as far, as the Indian shores. Many Dodge Kingsways, Plymouth Savoys- and assorted Merc's, and many more imported cars here had their petrol burning six-cylinder engines replaced, with noisy, agricultural, and slow diesel engines.

In such trouble times, the need for economic cars just increased manifold. The 'Bubble Car' phenomena was at its peak in the immediate Post-War scenario, extending upto the early 'Sixties (

The Seventies, were the peak years of the phenomena known as Reliant Robin, in the U.K. Indeed, it was *quite* successful as a workhorse.
This is further made evident by (Text from Wikipedia article) :
The Reliant Robin was well received in the 1970s because of good design and affordable price[citation needed], considering it could do up to 70mpg and achieve 85mph, and orders increased with the 1970s fuel crisis.
Early British miners who started with only their motorbike licences, and those who didn't have the required driver's licence, bought the Reliant Robin because of its B1-category licensing, and also because it allowed them to stay warm while working in cold conditions. This resulted in the Reliant Robin becoming highly popular in the north of England, so much so that the American embassy in England bought and ran three of them for diplomatic reasons.
Reliant three-wheelers enjoy a special place in British culture, often as the butt of jokes, such as when Patsy Stone dismissively refers to Edina Monsoon's isolation chamber as resembling one in the TV series Absolutely Fabulous. In the United Kingdom, the Robin is sometimes affectionately nicknamed the "Plastic Pig" because of its distinctive shape and fibreglass body shell. It is also often, and erroneously, referred to as the Robin Reliant.[5] Georgia Nicolson, the fictional heroine of Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson book series aimed at teenaged girls, regularly makes fun of the family car, referred to as a Robin Reliant.
I would like to end this post, by posting this superb pic of a 1994 Reliant Robin. Just goes on to say, this 'car' was not only popular, but also, facelifts were given to keep the car looking 'fresh'. Suffice to say, I find the facelift a well done job. The vehicle, in this pic, indeed looks to be from 1994, and not 1974. Well job done, wot?
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-rr.jpg

Photo Credits: Assorted websites. 'Had these pics saved in my 2012 HP Pavilion G6 2005AX since (absolute!) ages.

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Old 29th March 2015, 13:33   #7
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

What am I writing about? About some obscure Brit car-maker, who have no connection to the Indian market?

Wrong. On two counts. Reliant were famous. And not obscure. AND- They did have a connection to our (then) isolated market. I've described the useless Indian Automotive market situation in detail, in the previous posts.

How on earth was Reliant connected to the Indian market?

The simple answer- Sipani.

H O W O N E A R T H ?

Only one answer - Read on.

The Fibre-Glass Connection : To quote a previous post of mine, in this very thread-
Note- The car (Reliant Robin) was almost entirely built using *fibreglass*.
Fibre-Glass. Fibreglass. Fibreglass. Almost all Sipani's were disasters in build quality. What were they exclusively made of?

Yeah- You goddit right. Fibreglass.

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Old 29th March 2015, 13:50   #8
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

The first contraption: The British manufacturer Reliant, helped Mr. Sipani set up a company in Bangalore called Sunrise Automotive Industries Ltd. (SAIL) in 1973. Based on Reliant’s 3 wheeled Robin, the fibre-glass bodied Badal, was produced from 1975 to 1980. In 1978, the company changed its name to Sipani Motors.

A pic speaks a thousand words.
Or so they say.

Well- Let us have some six thousand words, what say?
Nope. Seven thousand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to thee- MER 1103. These pics were shared by BHPian 'shankarggp' - from Coimbatore, TN. Registration looks to me as somewhere from the erstwhile Mysore Presidency, the modern day KA.

The fibreglass construction is very evident. Flaws evident in the bodywork- I think. Note the 'SAIL' logo. And the 'Badal' monogramme. Both must be as rare as the car- sorry- rarer than the car.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal.jpg
Single wiper arrangement evident. Reeks of cost-cutting, wot?

Decades later- Toyota seems to have adopted the same cost cutting strategy for cost-cutting, for the Etios triplets- The sedan, the Liva, and the utterly wacky Cross. Single wiper. LOL.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-1.jpg

I think I *quite* like the side-profile. Disproportionate, I know. But still, looks good. Well- somewhat anyway.

'Neways, note the presence of rear vents for engine cooling. This one was rear engined. Possibly the first rear engined vehicle to be assembled in India. Note- This example has seats in the rear, and has only one door, on one side to access the rear seat.

Pretty wacky design, I think.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-2.jpg

All the doors open. The rear has only one door for access- as I've just said.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-3.jpg

Fiberglass construction is very evident. Looks very cheap- I know. The speedo is graded upto 100kmph. Can this contraption reach such speeds? Unlikely.

On a side note: What if the speedo were in MPH? Imagine this thing at a hundred miles per hour. LOL.
I've mentioned the specs below in this very post.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-4.jpg

The second row of seats. As I've said, only one door for accessing this row.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-5.jpg

Floor-Shift. Necessary- As this one is rear engined.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-badal-6.jpg

Like I said, a pic says a thousand words. Here I go again- five thousand more words. XD

This one was owned by BHPian 'powerwin'- in Coimbatore. Thus pictured below-

The vehicle is TNA registered. It is Madurai registered- according to my post here:

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-powertwin-badal-1.jpg

Note the Standard 10 'Pennant' parked behind. ( These were assembled in Madras, using CKD Kits imported from the U.K - circa 1954 to 1960.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-powertwin-badal-2.jpg

Fiberglass construction evident.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-powertin-badal-3.jpg

The 'crux' of the contraption. Or the 'heart' of this contraption. Whatever. It looks like a Innocenti unit to me. Yes- The same Innocenti that had some connection with scooter manufacturing.

It is a 200cc mill. Air Cooled, as is evident. Single cylinder. Petrol- Note the presence of the carburettor.

What do you think of the specs? ;p

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-powertwin-badal-3-engine-innocenti.jpg

@powertwin opines that this is a 'Starter Motor cum Dynamo'. Pretty good piece of enginnering I guess- Anyone who has attempted to build an electric motor / generator from scratch will know.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-powertwin-badal-4-statermot-cum-dynamo.jpg

This thingy- the Badal- was not a success, even though a four-wheeled version called "Badal 4" was developed.

A (very) helpful link:

This contraption reminds me of the Force Minidor actually. Link:

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Old 29th March 2015, 14:16   #9
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Did you fetch the popcorn? Fetch a Coke as well.

The Sipani Dolphin: Well- This one is a long forgotten legend. Visiting this link may help:
BHPian Ananth Kamath's pristine example from 1983:
The Dolphin, as with other Sipani products of that era, was chiefly made up of *fibreglass*. The car, was a 1:1 replica of the Reliant Kitten. I've written about the Sipani-Reliant relationship in my previous post.

The Reliant Kitten was another little Brit economy car- Made of, chiefly- yeah- *fibreglass*. No where as legendary as the Robin, yet- This one had something called *character*.

To *spice* up the (rather boring) proceedings, a pic of the Reliant Kitten rallying in the U.K. Rather somewhere in Europe. The plates vaguely look Italian to me:

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-dolphin-kitten-rally.jpg

Note the sponsorship by Cibie. Cibie was known for its legendary lighting systems. Period rally enthusiasts would appreciate this pic.
@Behram_Dhabhar: The Cibie Concaves were known for their legendary performance, were they not?

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Old 29th March 2015, 22:00   #10
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

As a driver's car, the Dolphin, was indeed great. A light fibreglass body. A revv happy Reliant-based carburetted mill. 4 cylinder- when the M800 came with *merely* three. Leaf-Springs. And.....this one takes the cake......

Rear Wheel Drive.

Indeed, many a BHPian will have memories of seeing a Dolphin drift. Sipani Dolphins was a preferred choice for Vicky Chandhok and others who were dominant between 1985 to 1988, in the INRC. They say, a Dolphin could *easily* outrun the M800. And *drift* in front of it, something with an M800 couldn't do.

A few thousand words :
The cockpit. I *love* it! Look at those meters! Note that the meters are Pricol units- made exclusively for Sipani.

Looks good, wot? This one is BHPian Ananth Kamath's. The lack of pedal rubbers makes one thing very evident. This one is driven- hard. ;p Certain 'rally-style' modifications have been done to it. I think, Ananth was a rallyist, back in the day. Was he not?
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipanii-dolphin-car-ash.jpg

A different shade, if you will.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipanidolphin-car.jpg

A 1984 pic. This one came off a Belgian website, IIRC.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-dolphin-1984-car.jpg

Original pic- taken of those very first cars for the press, I would imagine. I think- I *quite* like the Dolphin. This one, was the ' saloon car' version.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-dolphin_01.jpg

The 'Estate' version.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-estate-dolphin_02.jpg

Quite an *eccentric* car. Nowadays- Totally forgotten. How very sad!

Why did it fail? Simple. Fibreglass. Once a panel was properly *broken* into two halves, it could be very difficult to find a guy to replicate the entire panel. Unreliable British tech- which was already obselete. And yeah- It was two door. Our market *loves* four doors. Shame.

And various attitude problems. Service horror stories. Skoda style. ;p

More can be read in this brief, but excellent review by @Iqbal_Veerji:

Sums up the company's horrid attitude. Vicky Chandhok, the expert rallist has been mentioned in many places in that review. Yes- he is indeed Karun Chandhok's father. Karun is better known as the second Indian driver to take part in F1.

Quite an irony, wot ?

Here's what @ananthkamath has to say about his Dolphin: Will outrun your average Zen or Santro without breathing hard.
The Specs:
Engine Specifications:
848 cc inline 4 all aluminum
stock 38 bhp
modded maybe 50+ ?
Engine Misc.:
32 PBIC solex carburettor mounted with custom flange
Ram pipe bellmouth with open screen filter
Stock exhaust manifold, 1.5" downpipe right upto custom open muffler
More can be followed here:

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Old 29th March 2015, 22:42   #11
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

The Sipani Montana: This one was the last *true* Sipani. True. True. What I really mean by 'true' is of course, useless construction, assorted design flaws, fibreglass construction, and yeah- being as unreliable as possible.

The indisputable hallmark of a *true* Sipani: It had to be a flop. No surprises, the Montana is known even lesser than the Dolphin.

Production of the Dolphin was eclipsed by the advent of the Maruti 800, to compete a five-door version of the Dolphin was developed, called the "Montana". If I get it right, the Montana was indigenously developed. To call it 'enginnering' would be an understatement. To simply call it- an 'insult to good enginnering' sounds better, and way more apt.

Honestly, this one is a 'contraption'- An amalgamation of different parts from the Maruti, Premier, HM, and the Willys CJ/Mahindra MM parts bin.
Note the 1983-1997 Suzuki Alto SS80/SB308/Maruti 800 rims. And headlamp units. Bumper indicators. Wipers. Door handles. ORVM's.

And a lot more.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani_montana.jpg

A generic press release pic- on a beach. Normally, in a steel bodied car, one would be *very* worried- abut driving on the beach/near seawater- owing to the fear of corrosion. No rusting worries here- The car was made of *fibreglass*.

The KA 04 M registration, of Bangalore, of the early 'Nineties makes me a bit nostalgic actually. I *miss* the older Bangalore- when it was a lot greener, and a lot *cleaner*.

Nowadays- The place is so damn crowded, that - you cannot even cross a road over there!

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-montana-ka-04.jpg

A brochure. Pretty badly printed, think of it. I *hate* that illustration. Think of it- I *hate* how the rear of the Montana looks. Unwieldy, wot?

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-monana-03.jpg

The Montana was indeed an 'improvement' over the Dolphin. A badly extended, poorly (re) designed Dolphin fibreglass frame. It was said, that the fibreglass used to come apart- owing to the vibrations from the crude tractor-like diesel engine in the Montana D1.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipanimontana11-1.jpg

I find the below brochure most interesting. In the first paragraph, it is very evident that Sipani have tried to capitalize on the Dolphin's rallying pedigree for improving the sales of the Montana.

Oh- They opine that the Montana was pretty much the safest car on Indian roads at that time. Pretty much the *safest in it's class*. LOL. Just look at that offending paragraph! Sure- The car was made from FRP- same thing used in Crash Helmets. But there was a *golden clause*- The quality of FRP used was useless. Okay- only noteworthy thing is the presence of a collapsible steering.

But, I have my own doubts. In the event of a cash, would it really collapse?

Note that they sold the car only in South India at that point of time, according to the brochure.
However, we know a lot better. Pune did have a dealer. Bombay did have a Sipani dealer. And Nagpur did as well,perhaps.

Note the 'unique'- jugaad grade tail lamps. Piece of junk- That's what the Montana was. And it failed. And- rightly so.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipanimontana09-1.jpg

Ananth Kamath's tryst with the Montana:
To quote him:
The chassis is the worst piece of engineering I have ever seen in my life, being an ill-strengthened (maybe even weaker in places) version of the Dolphin & was widened by ~4" in front and ~6" in the back.But as it turned out, not strengthened enough because I later found out that the chassis had broken umpteen number of times due to the vibration of the diesel engine. Of course, the owner neglected to tell me that.
We painstakingly put in a Fiat 1100D engine, again mated painstakingly to a 118NE gearbox.I compromised on everything else happening in my life at the time to bring this car on the road, spending at times 14 hours a day in the garage, and limited only by my mechanic friend who naturally wanted to go home.

Due to the somewhat light weight of the car (700 kg, and it was nearly as big as an Esteem w/o the boot) it was nippy and fun to drive. We had custom-built a side-exit exhaust for it which sounded like nothing else on the road. But one day the inevitable happened and the chassis broke. I had driven the car for a total of 20 km in all. I am lucky I didn't spend any money on the interior/paint etc.
'Seems they plonked in a FIAT 1100D engine. If the car still had survived- I'd have asked for the engine.
And, the conclusion:
1) NEVER let your heart rule your head. Emotion has no place in engineering.

2) What looks good is not necessarily good & 90% of the time it isn't.

3) NEVER devote time, money & energy to a project unless you are 110% sure that the outcome will be something worthwile.

I owe a piece of what (-ever little) I am today to this car, even though it was a piece of junk. The car was scrapped for the princely sum of Rs.1500 after countless hours of pondering over how to rectify the chassis.
So utterly true!

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Old 29th March 2015, 23:12   #12
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

The Montana D1: Supposedly, an 'improved' Montana. It had a body copied in plastic (or fibreglass. Whatever) from a second generation Daihatsu Charade but equipped with an Indian-built Mitsubishi-Shakti diesel engine intended for a mini-tractor. These cars were very small players; in the fiscal year 1989-90 a mere 290 automobiles were built by Sipani.
A generic press release pic:

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-sipani-d1.jpg

This car is 'jugaad'- personified! A wacky summation of assorted automotive parts, along with a Diahatsu Charade bodyshell components. Various Maruti 800 components are very evident. Infact, the lower half of the front door seems a direct replica of the lower half of the front door of the 1986-2014 M800/Suzuki Alto SB308.

Even the rear door to quite an extent. Noticed the Premier Padmini wheelcaps? This seldom seen part was observed in a few Padmini's, back in the mid-late 'Nineties. We can safely conclude that the car had Premier Padmini/Fiat 1100/Fiat 1100D rims. A badly extended, poorly (re) designed Dolphin fibreglass frame.

It was said, that the fibreglass used to come apart- owing to the vibrations from the crude tractor-like diesel engine in the Montana D1. Sipani took over Auto Tractors Limited in 1991 and manufactured diesel engines and tractors in the old ATL factory in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. The company had some Ashok Leyland connection- Hence, IIRC, it was also known as "Auto-Land".

A small diesel engine- meant for a mini tractor, was duly plopped into the Montana.. And voila!
From bad- to worse! First the Mitsubishi motor- and now this!

Suffice to say, I've written in detail about the Montana (and the D1 as well), in the previous post.
Deserved to be a failure, don't you think?

In essence, the Montana was a (poorly designed) enlarged Dolphin, with a Mitsubishi derived diesel, meant for a small tractor.

The Montana D1- was also an enlarged Dolphin FRP frame. But- With a Diahatsu derived outer body shell. And with an Auto-Land diesel- again meant for a small tractor.

Last edited by FINTAIL : 31st March 2015 at 13:00.
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Old 29th March 2015, 23:50   #13
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

The Rover Montego:

Rover? Whatsoever connection do they have with this wacky Indian company?

Sipani *truly* capitalized their British 'heritage' . LOL.

Hardly anyone recalls the Rover Montego. However, they were assembled here- by who else? Sipani. This was the mid-Nineties. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister, opened the markets in 1991. And lo! The stagnating market that I mentioned, turned into a hotly contested arena. PAL felt the heat, and launched the Padmini S1, and the 137D. ( HM launched the Ambassador Nova. Standard was already in decline. M&M tied up with Ford.

The days of PL and HM were numbered. The new products couldn't survive the onslaught, and both the brands were finished off in due course of time. M&M survived- fortunately.

What did Sipani do? Simple. Tie up with Rover, which was already dying abroad. The owner R. K. Sipani somehow managed to get a contract to assemble the Rover Montego from CKD-kits in India, following the market liberalization. It was not a success either: 236 cars left the factory in 1995, with only 51 more finding buyers in the next fifteen months. Sipani was running heavily into debt and was the subject of a rescue effort from India's Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction in the late 1990s.

Some six or seven thousand odd words

Honestly, the Rover Montego was a good car- Useless aftersales ruined it. Bad product support.

Useless aftersales. Skoda Style.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty.jpg

Quite contemporary for its time, no?

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty-2.jpg

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty-3.jpg

Turbo. The first turbo-diesel to be assembled in India. A trailer of things to come.......

Nearly 2 decades on.....We're obsessed with turbo diesels.

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty-4.jpg

The dash- Looks pretty okay. Note the three spoke steering. Any other Indian car had it in 1994/95?
Note the speakers/tweeters on the front LHS door, particularly near the wooden trim. The car would've had pretty good ICE for 1994/95.
Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty-5.jpg

It is a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder turbo four.

Rated top speed- 100 miles an hour/162 KMPH @ 5th gear.

Can teach that FIAT MultiJet or the Renault DCi a thing or two about torque. And even to the beast turned lame duck- The VW 1.5 TDi.

The Rover was quite fast for 1995- Indeed!

Remembering Sipani Automobiles!-monty-6.jpg

I'd like to conclude on the Montego, with a 10 year old comment by @ajmat :
the Sipani's are one of the biggest con artists around. Cut corners everywhere. When you see their Montego "assembly plant" was a converted chicken farm with not even an approach road - you'll ralise that there is nothing long term about them. An unknown fact - Subaru signed up with them but during due diligence, ran far away! Sipani's got a free Subaru station wagon out of it.
Note the part in 'bold'. Besides- A Subaru Station Wagon. For free. Well on similar lines- Subaru did assemble the Forester in India, for a very limited time (2003-05?)

To quote Wikipedia:
The Forester was sold in India as a Chevrolet alongside other unique Chevrolet models sold there. However, since General Motors no longer holds an ownership stake in Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, sales in India of the Chevrolet-badged Forester have ended.
The car does have a loyal fan following.

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Last edited by FINTAIL : 31st March 2015 at 13:21.
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Old 30th March 2015, 00:07   #14
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re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Thus ends the story of one of the lesser known Indian car makers.

They were wacky. Yes. They were weird. Yes. They were the best con-artists around. Yes. They could've taken on Maruti, but *chose* not to.

Ah! History would've been a lot different. A lot kinder, if you will............

But as they say- Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Let's quickly get over with the formalities:

A] All the opinions are of the author only. If found factually incorrect, they may be corrected. Particularly the HM R&D spend in the 'Sixties. I recall the amount to be ridiculously low- but cannot locate (or recall) the exact amount.

B] The facts have been presented on a as-is-best-known basis. Further points may be added, and discussed. No offence meant to anyone- or any party whomsoever.

C] All photo-credits- to the original authors. The pics were downloaded over a long period of time, and hence, recalling the original sources becomes difficult. In some areas- Text credits to Wikipedia and assorted websites.

D] I've tried to present authentic information, and to stay as neutral as possible. I haven't stated many points just to stay clear of unwanted controversy.

E] The forum rules have been complied.

F] If any bit of text or intellectual property is taken by any party for whatsoever purposes, due credits must be given to @FINTAIL/

The last but definitely not the least - knowledge. Knowledge. Where would we all be without it?

After all, what is the use of knowledge if it cannot be shared?

And thus- The reason for making this thread.

P.S : I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Last edited by FINTAIL : 31st March 2015 at 13:12.
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Old 1st April 2015, 12:28   #15
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Re: Remembering Sipani Automobiles!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing.

Rating a well-deserved 5 stars! Here are related threads, for those interested in reading up some more on Sipani:




Montegos on sale

Sipani Cars
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