What runs through your mind when you hear the term evergreen? For me, it is actress Rekha. Opinions may differ, but she is evergreen. Anyhow, I’m not going to follow that Alice further down the rabbit hole. Let’s talk about some of the most beautiful vehicles Indians love and own.
People have a sentimental attachment towards these vehicles. I have a friend who owns a 1967 RE. He cannot ride that bike above 40 kmph, but he still looks after it as if it is a new superbike. Not just him, there are a lot of people around the world who takes care of such vintage cars and bikes.
The reason is simple: its uniqueness and rarity. I would definitely stand with my jaw open if I see a 1960 Willy’s on the road (love it!).
Here are some of the evergreen vehicles Indians adore (still!) and own:
The Willys was originally manufactured during the World War II for the United States. After the World War, the Willys took its four-wheel drive vehicle to the public with its CJ (Civilian Jeep) versions, making these the first mass-produced 4×4 civilian vehicles. It was loved by the people. T
he legendary Willys was brought to India by the Mahindra who had the permit to assemble it here. It was a huge success here too. It was the first 4X4 in the country. In India, the vehicle is still loved by both the younger and older generations. The vehicle is being used in various events and festivals due to its unique and muscular styling.
It’s pretty hard to find a Willys nowadays, but don’t worry, the Mahindra’s Thar is here. The Thar can be considered as the rebirth of the Willys. A lot of customizations like a foldable windshield and stuffs like that can be done on the Thar and voila you have a better, more comfortable and a refreshed Willys in your hand.
If you own the Willys, finding spare parts for proper upkeep isn’t difficult. The spare parts of the Thar can be used for the Willys.
Almost everyone knows the Ambassador and would have enjoyed a drive or as a passenger at least once. The car is sturdy and is arguably the best car for the Indian roads. The spacious cabin and legroom for the passengers made it a great cab.
The Ambassador was titled the “World’s Best Taxi” by Top Gear after a grueling competition. It was the first Indian car to run on diesel. During the 60s and the 70s, the car was a status symbol and was the official vehicle for the government officials (around 16% of the total production was bought by the government).
Now the car is rarely seen in the cities, but there are people who still hold onto this big beauty. For most of us, the Ambassador could be the first vehicle that we owned and it is really hard to let go of it. The car has a great build quality and is powerful which could be another reason why people still love it. Peugeot recently bought the Ambassador from HM for INR 80 Crore and we could expect a new Ambassador in the market soon.
Oh, why did the HM kill itself! Contessa was one of the few powerful and beautiful cars produced by India back in the days. Powered by a 1.9L engine, the Contessa was a pure luxury and a complete royalty.
Super-comfort interiors, music system, etc, it was considered as a status symbol. But unfortunately, the HM had to close down and the Contessa became extinct. Now only a handful of cars are seen on the road.
The car has a high demand among the youth because of its close resemblance to American muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger or the old Dodge Charger R/T. Numerous aftermarket products are available for the Contessa.
Some creative, visually appealing body modifications and a minor tuning of its powerful engine will certainly transform the Contessa into an Indian muscle car. But then again, you’ll have to invest some big-moolah for such repair and customisation activity.
What would you do if you had a surplus of oil in your reserves? You would sell it to other countries and keep all the cash just like what the Arabs did a long time ago (oil prices are down, so no more riches like the old times). This is what Maruti did with the Zen.
The story goes like this!
Maruti Suzuki used to export the Zen to Poland. Sometime in 2003, just before the automaker’s pulled the car off production, it was stuck with around 600 units of the three-door Zen, meant for the Polish market. This car was sold in India as the Zen Carbon and Zen Steel editions. Both editions got a limited run of 300 cars each.
The specs of the car were similar to that of the original four-door Zen. The car still has a lot of fans because of its size, a rev happy petrol motor and a slick 5-speed manual gearbox. It didn’t take long before the Steel got modified.
The original engine got replaced with the 1.3L Esteem’s engine and with a perfect tuning, the car was churning out 100+ BHPs. Who else thinks this could be considered as a sleeper car?
HONDA CITY OHC 1.5L
The year is 2000, people! The car was great and a success too. The City had two variants: 1.3L and a 1.5L. The car was just apt for all those guys who wanted a sleek, sporty sedan which was powerful enough to beat the rest of them in the traffic.
We have come a long way since and the car still finds lovers in the country. Somewhere I did read about a dude who customized his 1.5L City that could do a 0-100kmph in 6.3 seconds! I was awestruck reading that and then I saw the video. She was hot and was a pure sleeper.
And if you are game to explore a body-kit modification, you can bring out the beast to match with the looks of a new-gen sports car. The best alternative right now for this beauty is the new Honda City itself. The car is fast, has a better engine and you’ll definitely appreciate the power, but you’ll never own the vintage looks.
Among the vehicles discussed here, only the Thar could replicate its predecessor rightfully. Costly spare parts and their availability is an issue the owners of vintage cars face. But for the Willys, that won’t be a problem. Thanks to Mahindra.
Be it a bike or a car, as long as you can take good care of it, drive safe and stay responsible on the road, they will enjoy a great companionship. You can modify these vehicles however you want, making everyone wish they had one.
And all these vehicles hold with them a lot of memories and a bigger story to tell. That’s why people never let go of their vintage vehicles- it’s part of their life.
If you are able to get hold of a second-hand vintage car, understand it, love it (take good care!) and then you will be able to enjoy it more.
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Raisa Elizabeth Mathew is a digital journalist and a photographer. A life-long generalist, she writes for various blogs covering digital entertainment, social media, and tech. She can be followed @raisamathew on Twiter.