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Old 15th October 2020, 21:17   #1
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The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem


This story dates back to end 2000, when I graduated from my 1993 Premier Padmini to wanting a more modern car.


Thank You, bhpians @BeemerBug_06 and @porsche_guy for helping me out with some representative pictures for this thread.

Why did I want to sell the Padmini?

I’d narrated the story of my 1993 Premier Padmini to you all just a week ago.

Details here (1993 Premier Padmini - Ownership Experience & Flood Restoration)

The reasons I sold the Padmini were:

a) The market for the Padmini was dropping fast with the advent of the Zen, the Santro and the new kid off the block , Wagon-R; fans of Padminis were getting rarer.
b) The Padmini was a corrosion magnet, and this would have continued to need attention over years if I had retained the car
c) The Santro, then 2 years into the market, was a technologically “advanced” product with a 12 valve engine at a killer price of some INR 3.0 lacs; same with the Wagon-R with its MPFI 16 valve engine. Both these cars made me realise that investing in a technologically better car was a good option.

When I discussed this with my mentor, Chacha, he told me to first sell the Padmini before examining another option. He also understood market dynamics then and felt that there was nothing wrong in giving away the Padmini.

How I sold the Padmini?

Since the market for the Padmini was dropping, I realised that the best target segment for the Padmini would be company employees (first time car owners, especially), and then decided to set up notices on the notice boards of shopping centers of all major townships in the Surat -Hazira area; no newspaper ads, no word of mouth publicity, nothing.

I approached the respective Security-In-Charges of these companies’ residential townships with my request for putting the ad up at their shopping center notice boards and they were quite glad to help.

On the same evening of posting my ad, I got a call from a senior manager of one of the companies. He wanted to examine my Padmini as an option for his sexagenarian uncle, a retired advocate in Akola.

He came, he saw, he liked, and the deal was sealed at INR 42k which was a very good price for me. Since the car had gone though an overcoat just a few months prior and was mechanically perfect, no faults could be found on any count.

My responsibility was to get an NOC for the car to be transferred to Akola, and that was done by approaching the Crime Branch for clearance and the RTO for the NOC. This took 4 days in all.

By the 7th day of advertising the car, she was gone, and I was back to what I was in Jan 1998 - car-less!!!

What next?

I have always dreamt big with respect to cars, and my first car experience with a different looking air-conditioned Padmini only made me think on similar lines – get something different !!

There was, again, no way I was going in for a new car, especially after all the experience I had gained with the Padmini.

The Padmini was the University which helped me do my post grad. in Automotive.

The 1999 Honda City was too new and way way beyond my means, the Santro was Hmmmm okay, but not something that touched my heart, the 2000 Wagon-R was a good option, and so was the 800. However, none of these cars gave me a kick. That is when I thought of the Esteem.

If executed, it would be a giant step forward from the Padmini, with the Esteem sporting a 65bhp engine (almost twice the power of the Padmini’s 1100cc engine), and there were ample 4-5 year examples available in the market. But did I have the bandwidth to maintain one?

Is it going to be the Esteem?

Once again, I had to be sure if I had the “aukaad” to maintain an Esteem.

The Esteem was an executive sedan – the ones that General Managers and Vice Presidents of that time would enjoy in a company, while I was just a Sr. engineer. Was the Esteem plain wishful thinking on my part?

With the Padmini, I had developed a good rapport with an auto spare parts retailer in Surat.

I put down a list of parts of the Esteem, went to the retailer, got the approx. prices of the parts that I had listed down, and, to my surprise, found that the car was indeed affordable to maintain.

I had, by this time, dissected the market and, realized that a good 3-4 year old Esteem could be acquired for INR 2.5-2.7 lacs.

This was a bit of a stretch, but let’s face it. If you want to dream big, and want to execute big, you got to save big too.

All this due diligence led me to finally start the hunt for my next target car – the mighty Maruti Esteem !!

When I discussed my thoughts and my findings with my mentor, Chacha, he was absolutely up for it; he, in fact, pushed me to look for an Esteem and rated it a top car.

Last edited by vigsom : 16th October 2020 at 06:22.
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Old 15th October 2020, 21:33   #2
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Esteem Ek Khoj (The search for an Esteem)

One formula need not necessarily work every time – and that is precisely what I realised when hunting for an Esteem.

Remember, when I looked for a Padmini, I relied solely on newspaper ads. This time, I saw virtually no newspaper ads for Esteems.

My only prior experience with Esteems was the experience of riding in three company owned cars allocated to senior executives.

In my rides, I used to listen to a peculiar light rumble when the car was at 50kmph or more. Maybe it was the driveshaft noise.

I was all on my own while evaluating my first car, the Padmini. However, this time around, I had the advantage of Chacha to evaluate suitable examples for me ; just that I’d have to do the first evaluation and only if I was sure that a car worked, I would involve him.

The only ad. I saw in the papers was for a 1997 Esteem VX – black, GJ-03 registered with power steering, power windows.

Boy, when I test drove this car, it was a huuuuuuuuge step up from the Padmini, save the low seating position. The owner was expecting 2.8 lacs. I, however, wasn’t keen on a black.

I added the first data set of an Esteem to my bank; and while I evaluated the black Esteem, I also trained my ears to listen to the engine note, and the characteristic clatter of the All Aluminium engine (ACE, as they called it).

With just one example seen this far, and no further ads coming in the papers, I decided to do something that nobody would have probably ever done. Here goes :

Crazy Idea No.1 - check at prominent clubs for prospective examples

I ran the risk of being ridiculed, but decided to still try two clubs out for prospective examples.

a) Club No.1 - just went in, and found a bunch of people relaxing after a game of badminton; introduced myself in English and asked them if anyone was looking to sell an Esteem, and they were just perplexed. One of them asked me why I didn’t just go to dealers, adding that I couldn’t be scouting for an Esteem going door to door. I just smiled.

Finally one of them gave me the contact of a travel operator who had an Esteem for sale.

b) Club No.2 – same modus operandi - went in and asked, and there was one member, a CA, who wanted to sell his Esteem . He said he was free the same evening and asked me to come to his place.

That evening, I went to the CA’s property in an upmarket residential area, and saw his 1996 Esteem LX Aquamarine Blue done 53,000km. This was the basic model with HVAC with no power windows or power steering. The car wasn’t in pristine shape but wasn’t bad either.

He was kind enough to permit me to perform a detailed spot inspection at his residence, after which I requested him to drive me around, and then I took the wheel. The car drove well but the steering seemed harder than the Padmini.

He was expecting 2.75 lakhs and I told him I would get back.

I then got in touch with the travel operator reference who then said he would be free only after 8:30pm. I went to him after 8:30pm - not the best time to evaluate a car, but I wasn’t going to part with money, so why bother?

Travel operator then took me on a scooter to a crazy MIG residential area where this GJ-12 registered Esteem was parked. It had an excellent audio set up. Nothing else about the car, including the expected price, was close to even fair.

So, Crazy idea no.1 led me to one decent car and one reject.

The CA, meanwhile, was not willing to go below 2.6 lakhs so I decided to let that be. My fair assessment of that car was 2.2 lacs since the car’s tyres were on their way out.

By now, it was almost 4 weeks into being car-less. I wasn’t in any hurry, though.

Crazy Idea No.2 - check at random spots in the City

This idea, surprisingly led me to an absolute stunner of a car – a 1997 white Esteem VX with just 34,000 km on the odo.

I was returning from a shopping trip on my scooter at approx. 9pm when I spotted this white Esteem parked outside a clothing store. There was a driver standing there and I asked him if he knew someone who had an Esteem for sale. He gave me his boss’ company’s number and asked me to give him 3-4 days to check.

Meanwhile, just as I was going to walk back to my scooter, his boss came out, apparently asked the driver who I was, and when the driver told him what I was looking for, he spontaneously called me over and told me he was thinking of selling his Esteem. The driver was kind of taken aback.

I went to the seller’s apartment that Sunday, saw the car closely, and was mighty impressed.

Since this was a pristine example, I got it assessed by Chacha and my friend Joby, who had done the overcoat for my Padmini.

Chacha drove the car for just a km by when he confirmed that my initial assessment of the car was spot on. Joby used these words to describe the car – “Yeh gaadi jaane dene jaisa nahi hai” ( don’t let this car go).

After the clean chit, I told the driver I would get back to his boss. Meanwhile the Boss had asked for my number. I gave him my business card.

My reason for not moving forward with the pristine, white, 1997 VX was because, for some strange reason, my mental block on budget was 2.5 lacs max.

Not hearing back from me over the next 2 days, the seller called me asking if I was keen. I said yes, and he then invited me over to his place the same evening for discussions.

He was expecting 2.75 lacs; I negotiated for a while and we both finally agreed to a price of 2.51 lacs.

In my view this was an excellent purchase price for a car in this condition. I remember that car number even now – 7840.

The seller offered me Rooh-afza after it was done deal !!!!

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The Anti-Climax

In the excitement that followed post this negotiation, I forgot to offer him a token advance although I had taken sufficient money with me (unlike very little in the Padmini case).

The next morning, at approx. 11, I called him and told him that in excitement, I had forgotten to give him the token advance, and told him I’d come over in the evening and hand it over, to which he said it was fine.

Some incidents are too good to be true and I realized this in the following few hours.

At approximately 2pm, the seller called on my Office number and his hitherto decent demeanor turned into belligerence.

He began stating that I was behaving like a businessman, trying to fork a deal out of him, to which I politely told him that while he had wanted 2.75, we had mutually agreed to 2.51 lacs.

He told me rudely, ”Shaam ko token leke ao, phir baat karenge ”( bring the token advance in the evening. We’ll talk)

I called up Chacha and told him about this and he was furious at this approach of the seller, something he had never seen in Surat ever.

Meanwhile, I could sense that someone had actually tried to negatively influence the seller from selling the car at this price, and that could probably be the reason for this behaviour. Maybe it was the driver himself? Can’t say.

Remember, the seller called me asking if I was keen, he called me to his place, he agreed to 2.51 lacs, and then offered Rooh-Afza too. Which means, he was a decent person by design.

When I went home that evening, my better half told me not to go fearing an assault by the seller.

I took the token amount, went to the seller, whose behaviour had suddenly changed from cordial the previous evening to cold this evening.

He said point-blank that he was not going below 2.75 lacs to which I asked him if whatever was agreed the previous evening had no meaning.

He said, ”Agar kal tumse token liya hota to mein bandha hua rehta, lekin abhi nahi” ( if I had accepted the token from you yesterday, it would have been binding on me, but that is not the case now).

I left his place, but did tell him that it was unfortunate that he wasn’t keeping his commitment.

I actually went to his place to demonstrate my commitment, while the seller demonstrated lack of ethics.

Maybe I wasn't destined to own a pristine car - for some reason.

Back to square one – 40 days after Padmini was sold

Last edited by vigsom : 16th October 2020 at 09:34.
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Old 15th October 2020, 22:17   #3
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Out of the blue over the next few days, I get a call from a friend stating that there was a 1995 Esteem with the caretaker of a popular temple in Surat.

I didn’t want to end up with just Rooh-Afza this time so checked with my friend if the seller was genuine, and if he was the owner or a middleman.

Friend said the seller bought cars, used them for a while, and the sold them with low profit margins. His links with devotees were very strong and several influential devotees trusted him with their cars.

I decided to give this potential example a shot and then went to meet this guy.

The car was parked in a shed with the shutters down. When the shutter was rolled up, I saw the car and it was instant love -beautifully done up on the outside.

I assessed the car as is and found the example quite good, though not as great as the Rooh-Afza car.

This was an original lot second owner 1995 White Esteem LX done 66,000km, that had more bells and more whistles that one could have ever imagined.

The Great

• Original glass all around

• A file of the car titled “Esteem Motor na kagalo” with all papers - original invoice, all maintenance bills till end 1999, live insurance, RC book, transfer forms all available

• Two keys with Autocop XS remotes

• Original fabric seats

• The classic original sounding All Aluminium engine


• Five spoke alloy wheels (with the spare also being an alloy) plus Bridgestone Donuts B350 tyres on all five rims with over 70% life left

• Body coloured bumpers ( the stock 1994-1997 Esteem had black bumpers)

• Mitsubishi Power windows on all 4 doors – these were 8”x 5” boxes housing the motor, control PCBs and switches. The boxes were direct fits on the window winder splines and had integrated warning lights wired to the door switches to show doors open. The front doors had red warning lights while the rear two had the regular ones.

The band in the picture below shows where the power window was fitted on each door.
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_pwposition.jpg

• Additional rear lamp set running all the way from the left tail lamp to the right- this became a standard fitment on 1998-2002 Esteems, and would feature four brake lights on in line when brakes were deployed; hot looking.

• Two layers of sun control film (no Supreme Court rulings then)

• Pioneer KEH-P8450 head unit with a servo mechanism to open and close the full display. This was apparently a very high end head unit and those days came with 3 RCA pre-outs, a host of settings, and the DFS alarm.

The Head Unit
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-pioneer8450.png

• Pioneer TS-2150 rear speakers and standard 4” Pioneer double cones in the dash (the speakers and the Head Unit came with the all caps old PIONEER logo) – sample pictures attached

The Rear Speakers
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The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-pioneerts2150.png

The overall SQ of this audio was just outstanding.

• Motorised antenna on the left rear fender

• Strobe (flashing) light on the parcel shelf and connected to the reverse lamp

• Additional LED stop lamp above parcel shelf. This HMSL wasn’t a standard feature on cars then

• Chrome plated SS fender flares

• Roots Vibrosonic horns

• PMP relay kit with 90/100W bulbs

• Broadway wide inside rear view mirror

The Bad

• More than normal gum seen through the engine oil filler hole – one couldn’t see the tappets direct but the baffle plate above the tappets seemed to be dark brown and not light golden that one would expect for a car of this age and odo reading. I suspect this was the result of a missed oil change. Those days, the generally accepted oil spec was API-SG.

• Minor corrosion at the right rear bottom corner of the running board

• A noisy bearing which was detected to be in the alternator

Since I had driven the 1997 black VX, the 1996 Aquamarine LX and the 1997 "Rooh-Afza" white VX, I knew what to look for or expect.

This car drove quite well.

I then requested Chacha and Joby to take a look. The seller was quite a “maska” guy and immediately offered Thums Up to both of them when we went to look at the car again.

They drank the Thums Up but told me that while the car was mechanically sound, the bumpers and bonnet had been repainted. I asked if that was a deal breaker and Joby said No.

During inspection, they also looked at the condition of the strut aprons, stating that it is crucial to ensure that the aprons aren’t weak / damaged / replaced. They were found fine.

Finally, it was my call.

Finalising the Deal

The seller quoted a final 2.15 lacs while I was looking at sub 2 lacs for this car; actually the car was worth 2.1 lacs given the amount of goodies that came with it, but one couldn’t afford to get carried away by looks and features.

Finally he settled at 2.01 lacs, and what a feeling it was; forty five days after the Padmini left, an Esteem was finally going to be coming home !!

D-Day-cum-first maintenance

The payment was made in a combo of 60k cash and rest as cheques.

The seller handed over the car and the papers even before the cheques were realized; very kind of him.

This amount might seem like peanuts today but for me, as a company employee, it was a pretty high investment with my own savings.

Just for records, the on-road price of an Esteem in 1995 was INR 5.7 lakhs approx., and this Jun 1995 Esteem was mine in Dec 2000 for approx. 1/3rd the original on road price.

The same afternoon, I planned to get the alternator bearing changed. While this was planned, there was one small formality that needed to be completed. Only one Form 29 and one Form 30 were available and I needed to get the second Form 29 signed.

While the alternator bearing was being changed, the seller took me to the actual registered owner for the second form 29 to be signed.

The registered owner was in a village on the outskirts of Surat.

A middleman would normally never allow the buyer meet the seller but this was a different case.

The registered owner gladly signed the second Form 29, and out of curiosity I asked him why he sold the Esteem.

He said he had booked a brand new Indica but wasn’t sure of allotment, and since he got an out of turn allotment, he sold this car.

On my way back with the seller, I picked up my car, which had turned super silent post alternator bearing replacement. It cost me a mere INR 230.

After returning, my better half, son and I went in the car for a Pooja and the customary joy ride.

Presenting my steed, to you all, for the first time !!

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_2.jpg

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_4.jpg

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_3.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 16th October 2020 at 22:17.
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Old 15th October 2020, 22:38   #4
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Small yet significant things about the early Esteems

• The original lot of Esteems came with NTN axles – apparently made in Japan.

• Late 1995 and other 1996 Esteems came in two avatars LX and VX – VX had power windows, central locking and a factory cassette stereo. The later 1997 VX came with hydraulic power steering too.

• characteristic black matte tappet cover on the 1994 and some 1995 Esteems – refer sample picture below

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_enginebay-2.jpg

• All Esteems from 1994 to 1997 came with black standard bumpers (sample pictures of a stock 1997 Esteem are attached).

Stock Esteem
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-stockesteem1.jpg
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-stockesteem2.jpg

• Body coloured bumpers started with the 1998 model Esteems in which the headlamp assembly, corner lens, bumper, grille and interior design changed.

• one of the first cars to come with an electronic fuel pump (gauge plus fuel pump as one assembly with the pump in the fuel tank)

• the condenser fan was in front as a pusher fan while the radiator fan was a puller fan like in most cars today (all petrol Esteems had this)

Condenser Fan
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_condenserfan.jpg

• headlamp assembly and corner lens assembly were always separate parts – this design was carried over to future Esteems as well.

• In the earlier models viz.1994-1997, the corner lens used to house the parking lamp while in later models, the corner lens housed the turn signal lamp.

Corner Lens aka Samosa Light
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_cornerlens.jpg

• In the 1994-97 edition, the lens(glass) alone was available from aftermarket manufacturers for both the corner lens and the headlights. There were clips to hold the lens onto the headlight assembly.

• The dashboard was an old design with the instrument console featuring only a speedometer, odometer, temperature gauge and a fuel gauge

the Instrument Console
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_19951997_console.jpg

• This dashboard was a two step design and the side AC vents would be housed in the doors like in the old Safari; bland but practical design.

This dashboard had adequate space to keep stuff from falling off plus the air would be directed towards the occupant, and not towards the windows.

The Dashboard
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem1995_dashsample2.jpg

The AC vents in the doors
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem1995_dashsample.jpg

The 1994-1995 Esteem Steering Wheel
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem1995_steeringwheel.jpg

• No ABS, no airbags. There was a proportionating valve IIRC

• Bland fabric seats but the front seats offered good comfort for this low seating car. The rear seats weren’t comfortable enough, but offered the flexibility of a 50:50 split. Me thinks that this car was meant for the driver, and not for the driven.

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteeminterior_sample.png

• Green shade band on the top of the front windscreen

Ownership and Insurance Transfer

• The transfer was done the same day as the forms were submitted. I think I paid Rs.400.

• Insurance was transferred to my name in 15 minutes when I visited the office of National Insurance. Just for records, the Liability Only Policy premium then for this car was a mere Rs.425 (which included a LL for paid driver to make the liability cover “unlimited”)

Day 2-15 of Ownership

Those who’ve worked in traditional companies would understand that there is a superiority complex among bosses, and if a member of the team gets something better than what the boss has, it leads to a feeling of "Mirchi"!

Early that morning, at approx. 7, I landed at my Boss’ place with a box of sweets, and showed him the car.

While he seemed to feel important at this gesture, I am sure he must have been burning with envy inside. That is human nature – very rarely does one feel happy for the other person.

The next few days were unfortunately quite low – I couldn’t celebrate the arrival of the car because one of my colleagues who was in hospital after an accident passed away the day after this car arrived. They guy was extremely close to me and the mood was quite sombre for the next few days.

26 Jan 2001 – my first experience of an Earthquake

At approx. 0845hrs on 26 Jan 2001, terrible tremors were experienced in most of Gujarat.

I was seated on a sofa in my fifth floor flat having coffee when I could feel the doors vibrating. It then became so bad that I could even balance myself.

My wife picked up our son and we made a dash for the stairs and by the time we were halfway down the stairs, the tremors had stopped. Someone was stuck in the lift, and getting them out was quite a task.

We returned home thereafter, only to experience after shocks several times that day.

Scared to the core, most residents spent the next 7 nights sleeping outside the apartment.

We were in the Esteem on the roadside – wife and I in the front seats with seats reclined and boy on the rear seat. It was cold, and so we were quite OK with the windows down 3 inches and door locked from inside.

Some who didn’t have cars slept in the open on the roadside.

Last edited by vigsom : 16th October 2020 at 06:57.
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Old 16th October 2020, 06:13   #5
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem


Extra Sun Film removal

I checked that there were two layers of sun film and this was causing poor visibility when driving at night. I got the top dark layer removed carefully and it revealed a rich very light film below.

The sun-film fixer declared that the first layer of film was actually very high quality and those days cost INR 3000. No, it wasn’t v-kool but something else. The pictures of the car posted in this thread show the VLT of the film.


When the car entered peak winter, I used to face starting trouble in the mornings. Not knowing what was wrong, and trying various experiments proved to be of no use. That is when I decided to get the carb cleaned.

When I took the car to Chacha and removed the air filter box, what I saw beneath was a sci-fi carb – it looked so complex compared to the Padmini.

With three vacuum actuators and one accelerator pump, this was the mechanical avatar of a modern day fuel injection system.

From memory, I’ve tried to mark a few components of the carb in the attached pictures (pics courtesy bhpian @abheekg)

The Esteem Carb
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_carb1.jpg
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_carb2.jpg

What I remember were the following:

1.This was a double butterfly carburettor – the primary small butterfly would first open on throttle input while the second butterfly would open after a certain throttle input and vacuum.

The second butterfly would open aided by the Depression Chamber assembly as marked (Representative images attached)

The Butterfly/Throttle Housing
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_throttlehousing.jpg

2. The AC idler control would increase throttle input automatically based on the intake vacuum when the AC was started.

3. There is a rubber diaphragm/membrane in the accelerator pump – extremely thin rubber. The accelerator pump was given to squirt petrol into the body to give the car the necessary pep during sudden acceleration.

Even a small PIN HOLE in the membrane would upset the functioning of the accelerator pump.

I remember when the carb was being assembled back after cleaning, Chacha put some petrol, blocked one small port on the body, actuated the accelerator pump lever and the accelerator pump would squirt petrol

4. The carb is in three parts – the top, the body and the throttle/ butterfly housing.

The Carb, again
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_carb3.jpg

5. Once the carb was disassembled, Chacha asked me to use fine high pressure jet to ensure that all the ports in the body were cleaned.

I took the body of the carb to a car wash center. It was lunch break and the cleaners weren’t around, so I cleaned the body out with the hi pressure water jet myself.

Carb Body(sample picture)
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_carbbody.jpg

6. Post that, I got a carb gaskets and o-ring kit for Rs.90 and came back.

7. I had no expertise in re-assembling the carb so Chacha did it. The accelerator pump membrane from this kit wasn’t used as it wasn’t well made. The original membrane was used.

8. It took approx. 2.5 hours for the carb to be re-assembled.

9. Car started up without fuss, but again the next morning the story repeated itself – car wouldn’t start.

10. Finally, I developed a trick to start it – pull choke out partly, switch ignition on, press accelerator once and release, then start – and she fired up with no effort. This became the standard start up procedure thereafter.

Wheel Joint and Wheel Joint Boot

1. The only boot that was found torn on the car was the right side wheel side driveshaft joint boot.

2. The grease inside the boot had been lost and as a result, the joint was making a minor noise, at full wheel lock, when the car was being turned.

3. The joint was replaced with one that came manufactured by FB Gold. FB Gold axle grease (Moly based) and a new boot were fitted

Alignment and Balancing

1. Since this car had the all-wheel independent suspension, alignment of front and rear wheels was done separately. The car would be taken in forward, front wheels aligned, aligners off, car back in reverse, and rear wheels aligned.

2. Balancing cost RS.25 a wheel plus Rs.01 per gram for the sticker weights.

Other Maintenance

Over the next three years, the following jobs were performed

1. Setting of tappet clearances – if I remember right, it was 08 Thou when cold (settings done by self)

2. Coolant replacement

3. Spark plugs cleaning (by self)

4. Door pads replacement – the original door pads were simple fabric plus rexine on hardboard, and these panels had started de-shaping ; replaced with a set of door pads and re-planted the power windows onto the new pads

5. New wiring for the headlamps and two Koito 90/100W bulbs for better brightness

6. AC service

7. Left front power window motor rewinding

8. Oil replacement with Gulf 20w50; the first oil change was badly needed as our initial inspection showed some gumming on the engine tappets top plate
Replacement of oil made the engine sound even better, and surprisingly, improve the fuel efficiency too.

9. Repainting of the bonnet and front bumper

10. Replacement of the corner lens – this used to be called a Samosa light

Performance and Fuel Efficiency

This car used to return 13-14kmpl in City.

Once I did a 340 km highway trip and she returned 19.8kmpl; phenomenal for a car of this class

Money Matters

Expenses on maintenance over 04 years
  1. Alternator bearing plus labour 80+150 INR 230
  2. Extra Sun Film removal INR 100
  3. Carburettor kit INR 90
  4. Wheel Joint, boot and grease INR 800
  5. Coolant plus distilled water INR 200
  6. AC Service INR 1200
  7. Headlamp bulbs plus rewiring INR 480
  8. Door panels INR 725
  9. Power window motor rewinding INR 300
  10. Oil replacement 02 times INR 1200
  11. Alignment and Balancing 02 times INR 1000
  12. Corner lens (Auto-Gold) INR 90
  13. Brake fluid INR 60
  14. Head Unit ribbon cable INR 400
  15. front bumper & bonnet repaint INR 2500

Total INR 9300 approx.

The Ownership Experience

This Esteem helped me with
  • my first foray into owning and maintaining a modern sedan, the darling of several auto-enthusiasts of the time
  • my first experience learning a complicated carb, and the other systems that came with this car
  • expanding on my learnings from the Padmini
  • some mind blowing numbers on fuel efficiency
  • rock bottom spends on maintenance

The car’s arrival couldn’t be celebrated given the bad initial days, but served me very well for close to 4 years before she left for her next home, which was just one parking block away in the same apartment

The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem_1.jpg

Closing Comments

This was THE sedan of the mid 90s; terrific snob value but affordable to run and maintain too, plus terrific mod potential. She used to be the preferred choice of rallyists then, IIRC.

The 1998-2002 variants were classier inside, but the exterior of the 2002-03 avatars was the best looking in my opinion.

When the Esteem was reborn in the 85bhp mpfi avatar, it was a rocket – arguably the fastest sedan then.

My only grouse with this car was its ultra low seating and not so cozy rear seats.

The 2003-07 variants with the larger grille, sadly, were a far cry from the build and NVH of the first versions.

Would I buy an Esteem today?

Probably yes, just to re-live the experience, although in the 2002-03 mpfi avatar. This variant had the best combo of the classy interiors of the 1998-2001 plus the good looking grille of the 2002-03 models.

the 2002-03 Esteem (pic courtesy bhpian @benzinblut)
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-esteem2002.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 16th October 2020 at 07:53.
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Old 17th October 2020, 04:30   #6
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

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

Going to our homepage today

Last edited by GTO : 17th October 2020 at 07:26.
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Old 17th October 2020, 07:15   #7
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re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Thanks for sharing this review. The Esteem is the only 90s sedan that we can still find on the road. We have a 2002 Esteem LXI which runs for about 300 km a month (hence a new car is not justified). Everything works well. The service cost is minimal, and it still drives like new.
While the rear seat may not be the best, I still find it better than the ones on the Dzire cabs that operate on Uber etc. Maybe it is the fabric texture, but the seats seem softer.

Even today, for a first time buyer, a well maintained esteem makes for a good choice if your budget is around 1 lakh. It may be old, but all parts are available and they are cheap by modern standards.
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Old 17th October 2020, 10:25   #8
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Great thread & enjoyable read - thanks for sharing . Those cabin pictures brought back memories of my '96 Esteem which we owned for ~2 lakh km & 10 years. Damn thing was a workhorse that took all kinds of abuse, and never let us down. It had even gotten stolen once (thread link (My car got stolen this morning!!))!

Loved that car. It was the Octavia vRS of the mid-90s.
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-37.jpg
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Old 17th October 2020, 11:31   #9
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

OH man, that car is my crush. I first saw it in 1997 when my Mamu bought a brand new Maruti 1000 in Pearl Black shade. He retrofitted a Delphi Air Conditioner and Black Leather Seat Covers.

My dad bought a 97 Ionion Blue Esteem VX Power Steering a few months later. Exactly the same shade seen in a Vivek Oberoi movie :
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-452610fc3997455097af3ae3a8955499.jpeg

We had those 1998 Brake Lights fitted but ours used to turn on with the Lights and Brightened on braking!

I was just 4 and I could spot a dozen of differences between the 1000 and the Pre Facelift Esteem. Unfortunately I don’t have their pics, or maybe I’ll look for them tonight.

That’s when I fell in love with cars and more so with the Carb Esteem!
Even today if i see a pre facelift Esteem, somewhere deep inside I’m still a 4 year old kid drooling over her, that’s how simple and beautiful she was.

The Esteem and 1000 were such an epitome of luxury that they were owned by
Rajiv Gandhi
Sanjay Dutt
Sachin Tendulkar
Shahrukh Khan
Saif Ali Khan
Urmila Matondkar
Manisha Koirala
Ram Gopal Varma etc etc.

My Scale Model Esteem :
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-6b3d0f2f593a4d3aa527913c623287ed.jpeg
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-aacaf51def42435d8250073fcedc6c56.jpeg

Ours had these Alloy wheels in silver colour can someone help me tell their make?
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-d763488854e54dbbbf788671d9e1f53a.jpeg

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
It had even gotten stolen once
That’s terrible GTO sir! Then did you find her back? An impeccably maintained car does catch the attention of thieves...

Last edited by dr.aviansh : 17th October 2020 at 11:56.
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Old 17th October 2020, 12:42   #10
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Great write-up with granular details. I have my 17-year old Esteem(2003 VXi) with me even today and it drives like a dream and has never ever let me down once. Has close to 65K kms on the ODO till date. I know this raises many an eyebrow but that is how it is with the mileage all of my vehicles. Planning to post a long-term ownership update on my Esteem soon. Want to give her a complete make over and have been carefully and patiently sourcing various parts during the last year. The pic below was taken 5 years ago and the car has borne the brunt of harsh weather due to lack of covered parking. I so badly want to bring her back to her glory.

Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
I also trained my ears to listen to the engine note, and the characteristic clatter of the All Aluminium engine (ACE, as they called it).
The ACE stood for All-Aluminium Contemporary Engine.
Attached Thumbnails
The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem-20140713_111506.jpg  

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Old 17th October 2020, 12:59   #11
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Wow, amazing thread. Brought back a lot of memories of our Maruti 1000/ Esteem from the 90's. And those old plates ( white on black) nostalgic to see them. The Esteem was a luxury car indeed, in those days of Fiat, Ambassador. M800 and Zen. we originally had a Maruti 1000 which was repainted in a different shade of the Esteem Blue and was rebadged Esteem (including the 1.3 L tender monograms). After that there was a dark green Esteem LX and then a white Esteem LX. Pioneer 7-series and 9_Series HU's , Oval and Dome speakers and 8, 10 and 12 inch subwoofers were the trend those days. Will try and source some pics if possible.
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Old 17th October 2020, 13:20   #12
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

When ever I saw one on the roads, I used to check that out thoroughly with excitement! That was a budget Sedan back then, the fabric on the seats is something where it shines. Even our 96' M800 had some wonderful Fabric on the seats, it gives some special feeling and I don't know why I still remember some strangely beautiful smell that I used to feel when ever I get into the car.
Even now whenever I see one with some beautiful alloys I can't stop myself from admiring it. Esteem in Black or Golden shade looks so good!!!
A good write up of your experience, you had some great knowledge about cars back in time. A true Automotive guy I say I was so involved reading each and every line in this!
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Old 17th October 2020, 14:34   #13
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Wow. Mine too was a padmini and then a Maruti esteem. . Enjoyed driving around in them. Comfy for self and family.
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Old 17th October 2020, 15:53   #14
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Awesome write-up. I owned a late 1996 white Esteem LX with body coloured bumpers, retrofitted AC and retrofitted power windows. She was a pretty strong and reliable car and never gave up the ghost on me. I bought her from the second owner in 2005 with a not-so-pristine exterior. It served me on as my daily and my road trip car for 7 years until that fateful day in June 2012 when my rear right spring nut gave up and my rear fell to the ground with a full trunk. We were somewhere in the middle of Karnataka at almost 8'o clock. Thankfully a trucker from Tamil Nadu (my state) saw us and just threw on a random bolt and told me to drive very slowly and carefully. Somehow we managed to get to the hotel and the next I drove it to the local Maruti Suzuki service center. On inspection we found that the rear right suspension was all done for and the trunk floor had been damaged. The repair quote was nearly 1.5 lakhs and the car's worth was less than that so naturally I had to sell it off to another owner who repaired it and sold it again to someone two houses away from mine. The irony!!!
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Old 17th October 2020, 15:55   #15
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Re: The story of a 1995 Maruti Esteem

Great thread @vigsom, bring back memories of my Dad's 1995 maroon Esteem purchased in Nov of that year. I used to maintain that car myself including the carburettor cleaning & setting.

The car was sold in end 2001 to a gentleman from, believe it or not, Surat a city my Dad used to visit for his professional assignments. This one was the 1st of 2 Esteems to join the family. I bought my car, in the dark blue colour, back in Jul 2000.

Thanks for a great weekend read.
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