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Old 26th January 2020, 21:30   #1
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Default A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Prelude

I've been obsessed with the Premier Padmini since 1991, that is the year my Dad bought home his first car - the Premier Padmini Economy. It is close to three decades the car has been with us and shares a special space in our garage.

Fast forward to 2009, my dear friend and BHPian funkykar (Karthik Makam) came across a Padmini for sale. The car was owned by of Mr. Sathyanarayana, a retired Banker. His son-in-law got our number from the FCB's website and informed us about the sale. Karthik and me visited their house over the weekend to have a look at the Padmini. Our intention was primarily to save such a well cared car from being scrapped. and hence informed about the availability of this car to all our Fiat friends who were looking for one. Unfortunately, none of them were ready to buy one at that moment. Since Karthik already owned a couple of Classics, it was decided that I would own it and there came home My first pre-worshipped car - the 1990 Premier Padmini Standard.

It has been joyous ten years of owning this iconic car of India. Over the years, the love for this car too has grown among all the family members, especially my six year old daughter. Many FIATians across India admire this car and is fondly referred to as 331.

Here are some pics taken a decade ago in Bangalore.

Jayamahal Palace
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Vikasa Soudha. This beautiful tree is now Bygone; thanks to Metro
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Very Majestic Vidhana Soudha
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Bangalore Palace compound
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We four FIAT buddies posing with our Padmini cars with Bangalore Central Library in the back ground.
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Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:31.
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Old 26th January 2020, 22:37   #2
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Engine Specs, Spares & Maintenance

Premier Padmini Standard is Rear Wheel Drive, powered by 4 cylinder 1089cc petrol engine, producing ~40 Bhp mated with Column Shift 4-speed gearbox.

There is no power steering, Single piston master cylinder with drum brakes on all the wheels. The engine is basically same one as in the FIAT 1100 Millecento which was launched in 1953 in India. This Padmini has the engine and it's components in factory spec. Even the conversion from Dynamo to Alternator was not done as I didn't face any issues with battery charging. The mechanical fuel pump is stock with no extra electric fuel pump. Only major addition is the good old Jalwa horns.

The technology and design is half a century old, still, considering how well engineered the Italian cars are, the Padmini is really fun-to-drive. The later model, S1, with the Nissan gearbox, upgraded cooling system with degassing tank, the upgraded exhaust manifold and of course with more power is way better than the regular Padmini. Sad that the Premier Padmini S2 which supposedly had rectangular headlights, didn't see the light of the day. Also, the FIAT 1100's mechanicals were far superior compared to the Premier Padmini cars as the latter had to go through value engineering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
In 1975, the integrated keyway in the ID of the phosphor bronze bushes for the second and third gears was removed as a "value engineering" () exercise! Turned ID bushes were introduced. This eliminated the ID broaching operation and saved huge cost. The design premise was that when the main shaft nut is tightened, all the tolerance stack-up will ensure that the bushes do not rotate with relation to the main shaft but in reality this did not happen. The bushes rotated, leading to friction and jamming of the bushes on the main shaft. I have seen numerous main shafts burnt in this interface area. This immediately lead to bush face wear which had an axial design clearance of 0.1mm with the driving second and third gears. Due to this, the effective main shaft nut torque reduced and the whole assembly just came apart. This is also the main reason for second gear crashing in Premier Padmini cars made after 1975, the other reason is counter shaft flex as the second gear pair is housed as a cantilever in the rear housing.

Best regards,
Behram Dhabhar
Talking about the maintenance, the Padmini is quite a reliable car though most of us use it only during weekends or Club meets. However, the sub-standard quality parts available nowadays requires us to keep some spares readily available in the car. Common parts prone for failure are the hoses, suspension bushes and to a certain extent the brake parts. Only a few spares are available new like the points and condenser, water pump, carburetor packing, suspension bushes, brake master cylinder etc.

The spare parts are easy to find in few of the old time spares dealers in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, compared to many other Indian cities. One grouse though is that the price for the spares the dealers charge is exorbitant. Off late, some of the cosmetic parts like lights, beading and commonly used spares are being sold by small time stockists over FB and WhatsApp groups.

Most of the Padmini cars run on Alternator rather than Dynamo. Alternator is one among the few parts which can be retro fitted. Since the nylon threaded tyres for Padmini of the size 5-20-14 are not manufactured in bulk anymore, the next best fit is the Maruti Swiift's tyres of the size 165/80 R14. The only issue with these tyres is that the steering movement gets hard which is otherwise quite effortless to use.

Padmini's simple and clean engine bay
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Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:33.
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Old 26th January 2020, 22:56   #3
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Interior

One of the favorite features of the Premier Padmini which is loved even today by many is the front bench seat. Three people can comfortably sit in the front seat (although not recommended) thanks to the column gear shift. Otherwise, the interiors features are very basic. No AC, power windows or the music system. Driving with the windows rolled down listening to the engine purrr is a joy to be experienced. The smell in the cabin, coming from the petrol, grease and the clutch which is typically smelt in classic cars, adds to the joy.

Genuinely driven for 42k kms till date
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Really big steering wheel compared to modern cars
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Uber comfortable rear seats.
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Triple driving with BHPian Ilango and BHPian funkykar!
A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini-1.jpg

Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:34.
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Old 27th March 2020, 23:40   #4
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Servicing and Greasing

Way back in 2010, on the occasion of 20th Birthday of this very Padmini, I got the Padmini serviced at the nearby service station for wash, greasing and oils change/ top-up. Those days, this kind of servicing was done one or two times a year depending on the usage. Nearby petrol Bunks had such servicing facilities and would charge upto 1500 rupees for servicing and lubricants. Most of the servicing and greasing inputs were given to us by our FIAT Guru - Distinguished BHPian Behram Dhabhar .

Below are two threads I had created in 2010 related servicing and spares to stock.

(Servicing and Greasing My Premier Padmini!)Link

(Fiat 1100 / Premier Padmini - Parts to Stock for FUTURE!)Link

Greasing inputs from the Manual of the Premier Padmini
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Lifted for under body wash and greasing
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Underbody being washed
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HP Chassis Grease as recommended by Behram Sir

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Greasing
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Diesel spray
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Engine bay wash
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Steering joints greasing
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Finally after all the wash
A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini-15.jpg

Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:35.
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Old 28th March 2020, 00:45   #5
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Detailing the DELIGHTed Padmini

One of the toughest times we Classic car owners face during the car ownership other than the non availability of spares is during the RTO Fitness Test! In 2016, it was time for the RTO Fitness Test and the Inspector at the Bangalore North RTO failed the test citing reasons like faded paint, rust on bumpers etc. For this reason, the car had to undergo cosmetic upgrades. Over the years, I had collected many FIAT 1100 Delight (1965 to 1972) parts from the automobile scrapyard like the grill, metal bumpers, aluminum body pattis, tail lamps, FIAT horn button etc. Since the outer fittings of the car had aged well, it was time to replace some of the fittings to new ones. Considering the quality of the parts available are of sub standard quality, I decided to put most of the Delight parts I had collected to this Padmini. But the Padmini needed more than these upgrades to LOOK GOOD to pass the Fitness Test.

Since the the original paint had faded quite a bit, my FIATian friend/ BHPian Schakravarthy (Srinivas Chakvarthy from Mysore) suggested me to get the Padmini's paint detailed since Painting was not a viable choice at that moment. Our obvious choice for this task was BHPian SunnyBoi (Sanjay Rao) who is well known for DIY detailing. I called Sanjay right away and he was more than happy to do the detailing of the Padmini considering it is a Classic and more challenging.

Distinguished BHPian Behram Dhabhar always recommended us to keep the engine bay of our cars surgically clean! So not just the body, but the engine bay also had to be cleaned and detailed.

Here are some detailed pics of the detailing.

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The final outcome!
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Survival of the FITTEST!

A week later, the D-day arrived. It was time for the second attempt of the Fitness Test. This time I was more confident of the Padmini passing the test. Rightly so, the Inspector arrived for the test, this time a different Inspector arrived for inspection. Just one glance at the car, he passed the test. He just left one comment in Kannada - Which Inspector will refuse to pass such a wonderful Classic car! Ah, finally that joy!!

Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:15.
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Old 28th March 2020, 13:59   #6
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Picturesque Padmini!

Beauty lies in simplicity! I very strongly believe this when it comes to the looks of Classic cars especially the Padmini and Ambassador cars. Regardless of how good the paint or the condition of the body is, these cars looks so gorgeous in its most simplest form especially in the pictures. Of course, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. These cars were very common on Indian roads once upon a time till the Maruti took over the market. Padmini was last manufactured sometime in 1998 and was commonly seen on Indian roads till about 15 years back. More reliable cars and lack of spares made the owners either sell or scrap their beloved Padmini cars.

During its heydays, there were people who used to do some minor mod jobs just to differentiate their car from their friend's and family's cars. The mods included adding fog lamps, dark tints, colorful seat covers usually of velvet, some stickering on the body & rear windshield, rarely alloy wheels and altered muffler.

In Bangalore, I estimate there to be around 300 well maintained FIAT 1100 and Padmini cars; around 200 lying around in garages. Though not a long forgotten car, the common people even today enjoy and relish the sight of the Padmini on our roads. Whenever I drive around in these Classics, there are many who congratulate me on keeping the car in good nick. There are a few who narrate stories of their Padmini car and why they sold it and so on. For those who love to own one, this is the time since the Padmini cars are getting extinct and also the prices are sky rocketing.

While I enjoy driving the Padmini, I equally enjoy taking pictures of them along the landmarks of Bangalore. Here are few of my favorites.

Full view of the grand Vidhana Soudha on a Summer Sunday morning
A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini-img_20180204_0801303802.jpg

Driving through the forest roads in Bangalore's suburbs
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In Lalbagh, posing in front of broken bamboos
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Neighbor's home. Looks like some foreign country house!
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More than a Century old High Court of Karnataka
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Office parking during weekend slogging
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At the legendary Airlines hotel during night Ice-cream drive with Mom
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Enroute to office!
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Proudly standing alongside the other Indian icon - Ambassador
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Boss's car at office
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My Dad's 1991 Padmini and new JAWA on the eve of Ayudha Puja
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Horn buttons of FIAT 1100, Premier President and Premier Padmini
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Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:19.
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Old 28th March 2020, 14:05   #7
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Good times!

No, not Kingfisher, but the Padmini did bring in some good times in our lives. Back then, it took some time and few lies from me to my parents for them to accept this new family member, a decade later, it seems all my efforts were worth it. As years passed by, the love for this Padmini grew over my wife, daughter, nieces and nephew too.

Wife Nandini, Daughter Yashna, me and the Padmini at the FIAT 1100 Club Meet, Lalbagh, Bangalore
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FIAT 1100 Club Meet at Sri Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore
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Nieces and Daughter enjoying the Sunday drives
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On our way to Yashna's school
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BHPian Pavan Kadam's nephew and Yashna at the Trio. Also seen is his Tata Safari
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Sunday is her Funday with Classics. BHPian Funkykar's Super
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Yashna posing along with the Classics with her cycle!
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Yashna is really hoping to drive soon! 12 more years to go!
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Last edited by arun1100 : 29th March 2020 at 22:30.
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Old 29th March 2020, 22:29   #8
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

My Pride - Premier Padmini!

My Dad's first car in 1991 was a Padmini and I am happy that my first car is a Padmini too!! Personally, these Classic cars at home have taught me what Unconditional Love is. Regardless of the numerous mechanical issues, time and financial constraints, the love for Classics never ceases. I am happy that I have done my bit in saving a piece of Indian or at least Bangalore's Automobile history.

Article in the Deccan Herald newspaper, featuring the two Padmini cars at home.
A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini-dh.jpg

My Tattoo!
When my non-car enthusiasts ask me what this Premier Padmini is, I tell them : Premier = First and Padmini = Wife's name. So it is First Wife's name.
A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini-tattoo.jpg

I dedicate this thread to the BHPians - GTO and Behram Dhabhar

Thank you,
Arun Srinivasan
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Old 29th March 2020, 22:45   #9
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

The passion really shows in your report. A lovely read, Arun!

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 29th March 2020 at 22:50.
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Old 29th March 2020, 23:56   #10
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Many thanks for taking care of these beautiful cars, it certainly takes a lot of effort. I am also planning to get hold of one such flat for a restoration project, some day it will happen. I will certainly look you up in the next Fiat meet-up.
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Old 30th March 2020, 00:37   #11
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Arun - thanks for sharing this !

The Padmini is amongst the earliest cars I remember, and the first car we had. Once this lockdown ends, I am coming over ... One round, please. I need to hear and feel that beautiful firing this baby with all it's 40hp has. Modern cars may have all the power in the world today, but the music of this engine is still un-matched.
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Old 30th March 2020, 10:45   #12
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Superb! Nothing better to bring out nostalgia than photos of Premier Padmini in serene Bangalore (or Mysore) settings. And what a co-incidence, my father bought his first car too in 1991 and it was a Premier Padmini. I still remember going out with him to get the audio system and AC installed. Was absolutely thrilled
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Old 30th March 2020, 12:33   #13
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Superb review Arun.

Cars like the Premier Padmini / Fiat 1100 and Hindustan Ambassador will always hold a special place in my hear. I firmly believe in what you said, "Beauty lies in simplicity"- whether it is looks or technology.

It is great to see that you have kept your old girl going and in good nick. Shows your passion and dedication. The Bangalore weather helps greatly. Here in Mumbai, these oldies needed bodywork every two years due to the proximity to the sea.

Wish you many more miles and years of fun-filled motoring.
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Old 30th March 2020, 12:34   #14
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Default Re: A decade of owning the pre-worshipped Premier Padmini

Excellent write-up, Sir! There was a Padmini in my extended family when I was young, and I always used to ponder over the column-shifter. And yes, simple mechanicals mean that these machines keep on serving faithfully forever, with just a little love showered on them.

The sound that this engine makes when revved is a different kind of aural bliss!

Kudos to your passion, and wish these machines serve you forever.
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Old 30th March 2020, 12:57   #15
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Excellent write-up Arun

Does the looming question about banning of 15 year old cars in India bother you?
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