Buying a stock 1989 Maruti Omni in original condition

It's a 31-year-old van, completely stock and still on company paint, sounded very sweet to me. My heart somehow wanted it.

BHPian funkykar recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Legendary Maruti Omni in my life!

The itch to try something new to an automobile lover will never stop. The craze is nothing but an addiction. Having tried various classic cars like the Padmini, 118, and Ambassadors, the time has come to try something new. BHPian Arun1100 over many years, precisely since a decade, had been telling about a Maruti Omni owned by his classmate's dad. How original it is and how well they have maintained it. Being a hard-core Fiat fan then, it did not interest me one bit to me. Had even met his friend, but never saw the van. Had too many cars to juggle with.

Come 2020, during the slow Covid times, Arun1100 one day called me and told his friend's family was planning to sell this van. His tone told me, this van has to be rescued. The Maruti Omni generally has huge demand to use as a small goods carrier, especially by hotels. Buyers with such need generally would throng to buy a good van. The family was buying a new Tata Tiago car and they did have parking space for another car. They were not sure to sell the car also. At a later time we figured, they refused to part with it as an exchange offer at the Tata dealership. When Arun called, I asked if it's up for sale and what is the price just out of curiosity. He said they are still not sure. If they are sure of selling, the price would be reasonable as money isn't the criterion to sell and they would be glad to part it to someone who will take care, especially Arun being a close friend to them.

After a few days, the idea grew upon me. I actually started thinking why not try a van? I can assure you at least 50% of it was fueled by the Covid slow times and boredom of greatly being at home. The rest probably came from the classic angle. It's a 31-year-old van, completely stock and still on company paint, sounded very sweet to me. My heart somehow wanted it. Mind started asking various questions like do I need it? What am I going to do with it? Being a 31-year-old Maruti, would it be any good, etc. I rubbished all the questions and just decided to go for it.

That very moment, I called Arun and asked to fix up an appointment. I said to him, ask if they are free now. Let's go immediately. Arun was more happy and excited than me and said he will check. In less than 10 minutes, Arun called and told us we were good to go check out the car. He came home and we started immediately. On our way, we waylaid ex-bhpian Chethan. He generally is our partner in crime. He was also excited, also very very confused, and laughing at us that we were going to see an Omni. Owing to very low traffic post wave 1, we reached very quickly. As they expected us, Arun's friend's dad had taken the car out from the garage and parked it. The very first instance I saw this car:

Completely stock. Company paint.

First drive of the Omni. A bit evident that it had a weak clutch.

We saw the car very thoroughly. Actually, me and Arun's mind had already decided to buy. Yet, I looked at every inch of the car in dismay. How did this survive so long in such stock and original condition? None of the panels ever repainted. I would have taken it even if it was half as good. Then uncle started the car and said let's go for a drive. I drove the car and in no time realized the clutch was gone. It moves and then revvs more than it pushes itself. Uncle was telling how it has been trouble-free and also generally he is a sedate driver. He had not realized the clutch was gone, due to driving slow as he is aged. Nevertheless, I did not even tell him the clutch needed replacement as he may think we are complaining or will try to bargain. This was the first time I ever drove a Maruti van. Because of the condition of the clutch, couldn't get to know much about how good it is to drive it. The test drive was customary and just because the uncle had asked us to try. We anyway would have bought it.

After looking at the van, we went into their home for discussion. We were treated to some very yummy poha and hot tea. Then uncle spoke about the car and a bit about its history.

Friend's dad did not know how interested we are and thought we have come only to see the car. Then after a while, there was a bit of silence. Then uncle said, okay anyways let's see what happens to the car. We thought he hasn't yet made up his mind and left. While we were at the gate, I asked Arun's friend if his dad isn't willing to sell. I told him we are ready with cash to make the purchase and that's the sole reason we came. He was also not sure and he went and specifically told his dad that we had come to buy the car. Then he understood and called us back in. He quickly bought the papers and quoted one amount. The amount was fair enough and very satisfactory. We simply said yes and signed the dotted line. He was extremely happy to know that we will have the car and he was sure we will care for it well too.

Here are some pics while taking delivery of the car:

Kilometre reading during delivery:

Handed over:

Pic with the family:

A selfie taken by Chetan during our way home:

Initial ownership experience with the Omni

Some details of this Omni:

  • Mfgr: Maruti Udyog
  • Model: Omni
  • Color: Bayer Blue
  • Year of purchase: 1989
  • Fitness: Up to 2024
  • Insurance: Up to Nov 2021

Maruti Omni Brochure credits to Leoshashi

Technical Specifications of Omni

  • 800cc Engine with 35PS power
  • 4-Speed Gearbox
  • Brakes - Front two Disc and Rear are drums
  • The rear suspension has Leaf Spring
  • Rear Wheel Drive

What's good about the Omni?

  • Compact car for city use
  • Loads of space
  • Budget 7 seater
  • Flexible to take big household items
  • Maruti's assured service network

What's not so good about the Omni?

  • Not-so-safe in case of a frontal impact
  • Very cramped driver seat. Especially no room to move the right leg due to the wheel well.
  • Low on power when fully loaded
  • Small 12 inch tires
  • The steering rod is in between C and B pedals
  • Sliding doors make it easy for kidnapping

Driving experience

Having driven Rear Wheel Drive classic cars like the Premier Padmini, Ambassador, and even heavy a vehicle like the Tata 407, I could connect easily with the Omni. All the initial apprehension of driving a van from Maruti was gone in no time. Moreover, my first car was a 2003 Maruti 800 Mpfi. So owning another Maruti was quite nostalgic. Having never driven one, my presumption was handling would be poor and may have a lot of body roll and is prone to toppling . That was not the case and did enough driving at reasonable speeds and cornering is quite okay. Surely doesn't give butterflies in the stomach. The 800cc engine is quite fun to drive on city roads. Considering the high visibility in the front and the compact boxy body, it is quite easy to drive in the narrow by-lanes and also bumper-to-bumper traffic of Bangalore. The gears are short since the Omni is generally used with heavy load with people or with goods. The gear shift is typical Maruti, comfortable to slot like all Maruti cars. Maneuvering on humps and ditches always gives me a tickle in the stomach. The wheels are right under the driver. Most times subconsciously we feel we already passed the hump and right after the van passes the hump and confuses the mind. Until now, never driven any car where wheels weren't ahead of us.

Getting back the Omni's mechanicals to full glory

The usual self in me always wants the car to be as perfect as possible. Wasting no time, took it to FNG. The garage and mechanic who served this van for decades happen to be near my home. The mechanic was elated to see the car. It had not come since at least a couple of years. The Mechanic is known to me also and was happy to see the car passed on to me. As already suspected, the clutch had no life. He identified a few more things that we could replace. I quickly visited an MGP dealer near my house, purchased the necessary spares including plugs, petrol filter, engine oil and plugs.

Most parts are from factory, except for the replacement of consumables. Paint is from factory and never repainted. Even the rims are factory original.

Some of the spares:

The engine bay:

Gearbox along with the Propellor shaft:

Flywheel, and the engine visible:

The gearbox:

Worn out clutch:

Work in progress:

New clutch:

Fresh oil:

Clutch being fitted.

In no time, the mechanic serviced the car. It was really butter-smooth after the works. Then there were some electricals to be sorted. The roof light wouldn't function, wipers didn't work, wiper spray dint work. I brought all the necessary stuff including a 12v cigarette lighter port for there may be a need to charge the mobile phone sometime. My well known car electrician Sebastian and his son took a couple of hours and finished all the works and checked everything else to be in good order.

Some of the spares like wiper water tank, lengthy pipe, 12v socket:

Wiper nozzle being adjusted.

Finally, as the tires were quite bald, I replaced 2 of the tires as the usage will be very less. I chose to install new ones at the rear. If I end up using it more regularly, I may choose to replace front tires soon as well.

The rim also came from factory. Manufactured in December '88:

Pic of the new tyre:

I noticed that the car wouldn't start if not used for 4-5 days. Found that fuel would dry and pump was unable to pump to carburetor. Had to pull out the pipe from the carburetor and suck until petrol came and connect back. I quickly consulted with BHPians Ilango and Gowtham, both suggested replacing the pump. Ilango also suggested adding an electric pump and use only to prime if the issue persisted. I quickly bought a new pump from MGP and got it replaced. Never faced that issue again.

The part:

Work in progress:

The new pump:

Now the car is a perfect runner. Can do 90+ speed quite easily. Once the mechanical works were completed, Arun1100, Chethan, Sujith, Karthik1100, and I have done several short drives and enjoyed it to the core. It really is a 'fun2drive van'! Never imagined I would say this anytime in my life!!

Read more on funkykar's and arun1100's experience with the Omni and BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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