I Am Fond of Cars: A Write up on My Cars in Mumbai
I joined the air force and my initial love was for bikes. I loved my Royal Enfield Bullet the 350 cc Macho bike and later upgraded to the Bullet 500 cc. This was the main bike in India and it was only later that the new breed of Japanese bikes came.
After I was promoted to Flight Lieutenant I bought my first car a Fiat Padmini. This was the Indian version of the Fiat 1100 D, which was manufactured in India by the Fiat Company in collaboration with Premier Automobiles. Now this car is obsolete, but at that time it was a hot selling commodity. India still followed the Nehruvian economics and only 3 car models were manufactured in India, namely the Fiat, Hindustan Ambassador and the Standard Herald ( a Two door version).
In the late nineties, the auto policy changed and India had many new cars on the market. Luxury cars like BMW, Skoda, and even Rolls Royce became common. The Rolls was, of course, the biggest fish of all and was even earlier a favorite with Indian Maharajahs. Maharajah Bhupinder Singh of Patiala owned 36 Rolls Royce cars. The Maharajah even used a couple of Rolls Royce to collect and throw trash
The first car which is still with me which I purchased out of the new breed of cars was the Skoda Octavia. This was 2000cc petrol version with a MPFI engine. The car gave me excellent service and I bought it after I sold my Fiat and Suzuki.
The Skoda was however heavy on maintenance and cost me a pile to maintain the car. But it was great to drive and gave great pleasure to cruise at 150kmh on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. It was fun but a real torture to change a wheel in case you had a flat anywhere. The Skoda had a peculiar locknut in each wheel, which required a special spanner to open. If you didn't have you were stuck as you just could not remove the wheel. The good story is that I don't recollect ever having a flat or a puncture on the highway. Maybe the Buddha smiled on me.
Me and BMW
I soon added a BMW 325i to my stable. It is a 'Cheaper" luxury car, but a real status symbol in India. I chose a black color as it shone when the lights are on in the street at night. It is a great car and I chose it over the Mercedes and the Audi. Both were German cars, because as far as skill engineering is concerned the BMW and other German cars are the best in the field. These cars were way ahead of Japanese cars in this segment.
I evaluated some Japanese cars particularly from Nissan and Toyota, but I preferred the German machines which I feel are better engineered. I have owned both these cars the Skoda and the BMW for some seasons now and they are giving me excellent service. They are good cars for Indian roads as they have a tough suspension and go over potholes with ease. It's a pity that no such car is made in India. The only pure Indian car was the Ambassador which developed just 50 BHP, but it held sway for 6 decades in a sheltered market
I have added a SUV
All along I wanted an XUV for my car stable and this Dussehra I decided to buy one. My choice was the Mahindra XUV 500. It's a massive machine and weighs 2500 kg. It's responsive and with high fuel prices is fairly frugal in it's consumption per litre of gas. The fuel it uses is diesell, but that does not affect its pick up.. However it could do with a little more power as sometimes I find the 140 BHP a little less when on the highways.
The vehicle is a pure Indian product and can be termed ' made in India' as per the thrust of the new government headed by Modi. I had a choice between the Nissan Terrano and this vehicle, but I chose the Mahindra. I took delivery on Dussehra and as and when I come to Mumbai, I use this SUV for long dri ves. Indian auto industry has come of age with the launch of the XUV 500. It comes replete with goodies like automatic air conditioning, climate control and sun roof.
I have a Ford Mustang in the UAE, but that is a different ball game as the roads are simply fantastic there. In India when I come here, I find the Skoda and the BMW good cars to run around. Maybe at a later stage, I will add a Mercedes. I will probably dispose the Skoda at that time. Let's see how the future takes shape.