It all started when I was a kid. I spent travelling time comfortably in the CJ Major / 540 / Classic / Marshal / 5-door Commander / Armadas (my dad worked for M&M back then). As my childhood had been spent in these heavy muscular machines, cars have never ever attracted me.
Like most of us, I have spent my childhood drooling over the car magazines available back then to look at & read all that you can and then have pictures stuck on the school study table, the study desk and the wardrobes as well.
The Armada wallpaper on my home wall for the last 20 years! The tag line is just so nostalgic:
School / college and the beginning of my career is where all the dreams got diluted & I lost the touch I had with the Indian automotive scene (just layman's knowledge - but, was never satisfied). This was only till one fine day I stumbled on an extraordinary website in the year 2005. That is where it brought the life back and hours & hours were spent reading everything I could, starting from that beautiful articles on GTO's Classic to Allan's modifications, the cavity and what not.
It's 15 years now and I still read them again & again as I did on the first day with a grin on my face. OK. Now this long story might put you off, but I guess we all share similar stories in life - where & how we started and reached Team-BHP.
Fastforward to 2011 - Dad was happy with his Santro, which served him very well, but I was just OK with it. The Santro in the family:
This is when I was in a good phase in my career & that's when I decided to get a car for myself - a pre-loved car. The search began to get one suitable for myself and after reading & studying in detail, I planned to settle on a Baleno
, yes a pre-loved baleno was on the cards. Surprisingly, I found a 26K km driven 2006 model VXI (genuine odo reading), maintained by an excellent owner who settled the deal at Rs. 2.25 lacs. The G16B low torque motor was so much fun to drive with the super chilling AC that I never looked at anything else. Touching high speeds on the expressway was a breeze & city driving was fun. My friends & women enjoyed it too. We named her "Black Pearl" and everything was a fairy tale then - whether office commute or those short trips or long drives.
The lovely Baleno:
Till when I got married in 2013, my wife loved the car, but hated when I spent my weekends in the garage. This is when slowly keep her upkeep was becoming a concern. Maintaining an old, discontinued car needs time and this is where she (Black Pearl ) was upset & started throwing tantrums.
In 2015 (was blessed with a beautiful daughter) and in midst of 2016 I was looking for a new car in a budget of 7 lacs. Maruti launched the Baleno again - this time nothing like its predecessor and this put me off. My old Baleno even had its tail lights and spoiler lights made in Japan. How could I even love the stuff on the new car? Well, I finally settled on a German and bought myself a Polo 1.2 Highline, as the GT was beyond my budget. I seriously regret that every single day.
Well, the Polo is a nicely built, good to commute & has never ever troubled me in my last 3 years of ownership, it has been a decent workhorse & has done its duty. The only thing to crib about was the space, which sucked when 4 healthy souls entered.
She is the saviour:
2016-2017-2018 I lived with it & it continued. With vitamin M issues & making life stable, nothing ever came to mind & I lived my life ready & watching all the 4X4 content from Allanís amazing restoration works on jeeps (I donít know him personally), but all these years spent seeing such beautiful work was amazing. The amazing transformation of the offroad junkie from his first classic, to the cavity & then the mighty Pajero always pushed my soul to get myself one.
I dreamed for all my life of owning an old army auction 550 & getting it done by Allan, which never materialised. The Thar was on the cards (but read on the post about sad experiences and concluded that this can never be your primary vehicle) especially with a 4 year old kid.
Beginning of 2019 is when everything was good & wifey had agreed on the Thar as well (see I am not a hardcore offroader & would get time to only do it on some occasions) Ė I thought real hard and did some serious brainstorming with my brother (we share the same passion).
I came to the conclusion of getting a vehicle which suits my requirement, which was an SUV with an active 4X4 (for some mild offroading) & which would also be a family weekend car from a mall to even a farmhouse situated post a rocky river bed!
After reading again on this bible, I followed & read posts from Shridhar Sir & a few more, I was confused between a Pajero & a GRAND Vitara.
After searching for 4 months , I didnít come across great Pajeroís in my budget & hence though of hunting a Grand Vitara ( always loved her ) Ė but was never within reach .
Spoke to wifey & she loved the old Vitaraís too , thatís when I aggressively started looking for one also images uploaded by Rajiv (rkbharat) a senior BHPian who hunted for a GV for 4 years & finally managed to get it were so amazing, reached out to him on FB as I did not have Team-BHP membership for which I tried several times in the last 10 years.
He helped me to search vehicles in Haryana & tested a few vehicles as well to get the best of the lot & always entertained all my queries with patience & helped me understand a lot of things.
31st May 2019 is when I get a call from the owner of a 2008 MT immaculately maintained (the car we had seen & shortlisted), saying that he agreed to the price offered. I told my boss that I had to go out for some work & left while getting the bank account details of the owner on the way, finished the transaction & got here home.
Lets the pictures do the talking:
Aged interiors still in full glory & the styling is yet not dated:
Company manual / first aid kit etc:
It's almost been a year that I have driving this beauty & must say that I am truly mesmerized by how it runs even at this age. They have built her really well.
Comfort :- I drove 3 trips Mumbai - Bangalore this year & it has been a sheer pleasure driving her on the highways as it glides over the tarmac with ease & has hardly any niggles I can complain of (except the under thigh support in the driver's seat). The rear seats are awesome with space for reclining which makes them amazing.
The idea behind getting her was to her use for travelling long distances, but I have also ended up making her my daily driver due to the comfort, amazing turning radius & the chilling AC.
Parts :- Boodmo makes it easy , but takes time to get them. But not a worry when you have a support car (passion makes you tolerant).
4X4 :- Never got to use this feature, but would love to get going.
Issues :- The only issue I find in the 2.0 is sometimes, it's a bit underpowered according to me. Apart from that, this 11 year old is much better than any new gen Creta / Kia for me.
Now the twist :-
My Team-BHP membership was only approved in the week I brought her home. Don't what co-incidence it was
& I decided to write about my life with cars a year back, which somehow couldn't be completed due to the hectic schedule I have.
4 months back, my company offered me a promotion & transfer to Bangalore (I belong to Mumbai), & I took both my babies to Bangalore along with me.
Well the 1 year ownership did keep me very happy, but the "Dil maange more" concept just doesn't get concluded for me.
Even when I bought her, I always wanted a 2.4L Auto, which is very rare to find for sure. But, somehow, 15 days back, I found one in Gujarat & the heart is pumping again. But, I have to let at least any of these 2 go to get the new one. This sounds crazy, abrupt, brief, stupid, but yes, that's what i would want to do right away! Hence, the plan to let go of the might Vitara is on.
The weird reason being, I have never been fascinated by any new-gen cars which suit my pocket & hence am always on the hunt for such jewels which are cheap , expensive to maintain, satisfy your desires & cravings , but make you happy. I would want it this way.
1) Let go of the 2008 & get home the 2010
2) Hold on to it, with new alloys, bumper, roof rack, tent, etc
3) Get a Pajero SFX home
Well somebody will find this weird & this becomes much like an Abbas Mastan movie with me mentioning getting an SFX home.
Well that's a long story of me mentioning the Pajero SFX in the last bit, but yeah the garage is craving for a diesel & petrol SUV at the same time... will bring this up sometime later as I am sitting in office writing this.