Wheels In My Life

“I hooked up my accelerator pedal in my car to my brake lights. I hit the gas, people behind me stop, and I'm gone"

Quote by Stephen Wright (Actor & Writer)

The first car I remember was an Ambassador; this was the car that brought us home from the airport. This is an Indian icon, King of Indian Roads, manufactured by Hindustan Motors. Mostly, it was always white too.

Comfortable seats, large engine, would make a sound that would drown all your conversations. The body was so tough, that it would not dent so easily,  it was a safe and comfortable car for the passengers. Of course, for the drive, it was a whole different experience. It did not have a bucket seat, so we would have to adjust to the cars seating position. It was like driving a monster truck, which had a mind of its own. The brakes were utterly useless, how do you stop something that weigh more than two tons with drum brakes. But still, this car captured a lot of Indian hearts, making it an Indian Icon.

Next, into my life came the Premier Padmini, which my uncle owned. Premier Padmini was manufactured in India by Premier Automobiles Limited. Luckily, these cars came out in colours.

Premier Padmini
Comfortable seats, much smaller in size than the Ambassador and quieter too. It came with a Fait engine which made it quicker. It was a gas guzzler; people didn't care much because gas was cheap then. It was small, so it was easy to move in and out of traffic. On the highways, it used to go like crazy, stopping it, was much harder cause it had a tendency to always pull to one side as you stepped on the brakes. Tall people were humbled inside it because there was not enough roof height, but still this was a car to drive. It kept you excited and it always managed to make you smile in the end. I learned to drive in this car, so it will always have a place in my heart.

These were the main two cars that dominated the Indian market during my childhood.

Bajaj Chetak
Now, the bike I learned to ride was a Bajaj Chetak which was produced by the Bajaj Auto Company. We got lost in this bike and had to find our way back home. But I love this bike, it's fast, comfortable, the brakes were good and it was easy to handle. It rode like an untamed horse, true to its name.

The Chetak was named after Chetak, the legendary Horse of the Indian Warrior Rana Pratap Singh.

It is a two-stroke engine on wheels, which my uncle still retains after all these years, it has run its course, the brakes are no more but a reminder that it's there. The body is rusted to its core, each time you want to start it; you have to push it onto its engine side until it touches the ground. This lets gas into the engine, thus letting it start. It actually, once split in the middle and left me with two half in the middle of the road. Once it was my freedom, now its a horse waiting to be put to sleep.

Suzuki Max 100 R
Finally, it was time for me to own a bike, thanks to my dad who wanted to save a lot of money; he got me a Suzuki Max 100 R. At the time TVS Suzuki produced two bikes of the version. One was with battery (Suzuki Max 100 R) and the other one was without (Suzuki Max 100). The difference was you get an R with your bikes name. Hence, I got a Suzuki Max 100 R.

This was a 100cc two-stroke engine which had a battery. Many might think, why I am stressing on battery, it's simply cause the once without battery had to rev their engines to get some light out in the night. Mine had a battery so it provided a constant light. It was a slow bike, it took me places but I preferred to walk with a torch. So I finally gave it up and got rid of it.

Top To Bottom - Ambassador, Fiat Uno &Tata Sumo
My history with cars now, we had a few cars as we grew up, Tata Sumo, a MUV or multi utility vehicle produced by Tata Motors was one of our first cars. The Tata Sumo came with a 1948cc normally aspirated diesel engine, which had a fuel economy of 9 or 10 km per lit. It was a big spacious vehicle which could seat 10 people including the driver. I loved it for its space and for the scare factor. You drive a big vehicle and people will automatically give you space on the roads. The only problem was the rattling of fibres on the vehicles was more than the engine sound itself.

Of course we had to own an Ambassador, King of the Road, a monster 2.0L 50 bhp Isuzu diesel engine, which I drove at times and at times we leased it out as a taxi. The money spent on keeping it driveable was more than what it earned. It was like a hole in our pocket.

Then came the Uno, which was made by Fiat. I loved this car for its fun factor. It never let me down, I remember having one of its tyres blow up on me, while I was driving, which send it across two lanes of traffic, but all I had to do, was change tyres and it kept on going. Normally, I am not one who skips a service or forgets to check, the water level in the radiator. But due to my circumstance, during a period of time, I could not do it... and still it kept running... I truly loved this car.

Auto Rickshaw
Briefly, we owned an Auto Rickshaw, the reason I am talking about this is, quite simple. It's the cheapest, affordable and the most annoying things on the road. Mine was a Bajaj Auto Rickshaw; it can take up to three people and a driver. But I have seen a whole family of eight or nine people wrapped up in this vehicle. Thou, it's cheap, now a day's it's a cut throat fare that is charged for going in it.

Thou, it's a petrol vehicle; I have seen people running it in kerosene and a mixture of other fuels. Usually, this happens often when people are planning on selling it or people are planning on burying it.

The funny part is people sit in an angle to drive it straight. It's a bit difficult to learn to control, by frankly, its fun to be in one. They are simple in design and style, yet they are an important part of the Indian infrastructure. 

When I was in college, I needed a new bike to make my life easier but I was sure this time I would let my heart make the decision and not my head. For me a car or a bike is not about speed or the looks of it, but more about how they make me feel riding them. While I was on the hunt for the perfect bike, I came across CBZ, which captured my heart in an instant. I was ready to do anything and everything to get it. My first step on acquiring this bike was to ask my dad, if he would get it for me, lucky for it, this time it worked. Maybe because he felt guilt for sticking me with a Suzuki Max 100 R, maybe cause I threatened to end my life if I don't have it.

CBZ was produced by Hero Honda Motors, with an original Honda 156.8cc 4-stroke engine. It was the fastest bike during the time and also I was the only one with it in my village. I was a proud owner of a CBZ. A bit heavy and was not easy to handle, but it was fast, in the end, that was all that mattered.


Now newer version and even better version of it has come out, but still, old is gold. It's like a monument of my time which I preserve with me.

It was time for me to buy a car of my own, my begging my dad won't work anymore because I am too old for it and I am sure all my threatening to end my life, also won't work. I looked at a lot of cars which were in the market during the time, like the Swift, Fiesta, Verna and also the Logan. But my heart and pocket decided different as I saw the Zen Estilo.
Zen Estilo
Zen Estilo
Zen Estilo

The model debuted in 2006, Maruti Zen Estilo which was produced by Maruti Suzuki. Maruti Zen Estilo (Basanti, that's what I call her) is an inline 4 cylinder 1061cc engine that was developed for the Indian roads by Maruti Suzuki and was also running in the Maruti Wagon-R.
Zen Estilo

Zen Estilo
Basanti is not quick, but cute like a girl who walks in style. She is mine and I love spending time driving her. After I got her, people asked me why. But I always told them, she makes me feel good, that's why. I have driven all around India with her and I still enjoy driving her with my wife as my navigator. In the end, she is our second home.

Zen Estilo

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