Here is another car, or should I say a sports car made in India at a time when they were not popular here. The automobile industry was having a good time with all budget hatchbacks such as Hyundai Santro and Maruti Suzuki Alto doing great in the Indian market. We are talking about the time around the 2000s. A company based in Mumbai under the name Chinkara Motors launched a small sports car under the name Roadster. Let’s have a look at India’s own Caterham.
Chinkara Roadster – The Indian Caterham
The Roadster was equipped with the ISUZU 1.8-litre petrol engine and 5-speed manual gearbox that was also given to the HM Ambassador. But this engine was exceptional. It was tuned to ooze out more power. Chinkara Roadster’s engine was capable of producing 113hp of power and a peak torque of 135Nm. This boxcar was able to reach 100kmph from zero in just 6.7 seconds. Just for your reference, the detuned version of this engine in HM Ambassador used to produce mere 75hp of power. Talking about the speed, Chinkara Roadster could reach over 190kmph.
Well, the engine was not the only part it shared with other cars made in India. The suspensions were taken from Maruti Alto/Baleno depending upon the customer. Chinkara used the chassis of Standard Herald for this roadster.
But there was one more thing that was a major drawback for this car. And it was the fibre-glass body on the chassis. We have already come across cars like Sipani Badal and Kajah Kazwa that either failed due to the fibre-glass body or was not able to come into production for the same reason. Although global companies like Lotus used fibre-glass body for their sports cars of these types, Indians were not ready to adopt the trend. Moreover, the hot weather made the bodies clumsy and sloppy when kept in the heat for a long time. And if damaged, the whole panel had t be changed, which would cost another fortune.
The company used to claim a mileage of around 13kmpl. Another drawback as people were not ready to spend huge on a 2-seat car that answered the ‘Kitna Deti Hai’ question with ‘Bahut Kam’. I haven’t told you the price yet!
*DRUM ROLLS* The Price
The Indian Caterham used to cost ₹7.5 lakhs. If you compare the price to the original Caterham which costs around ₹28 lakhs, this price is good. But the market had other options in sedans with more space and mileage at a price lower than this. Let’s do a bit of maths here. Taking the cost of procurement of chassis around ₹20,000 max. Engine and Gearbox would add another ₹60,000 on a bad day. The fragile fibre-glass body panels would cost another ₹20,000. And the rest maybe around ₹1,00,000. The total cost comes out to be ₹2,00,000. I am not saying anything, nor accusing Chinkara of overpricing the Roadster, but Man! it was pricey.
What other drawbacks were there?
The price was not the only point that kept the Chinkara Roadster off the tracks. Actually there were no proper tracks-days at that time in India. Moreover, there was no roof and no air conditioning which became quite common at that time in the cars with the same price.
Whatsoever, India’s own Caterham was a piece of the automobile and would have been a hit if it was launched now (before the COVID-19). People nowadays do love such beauties and would have bought one. But you never know! What are your views on the Chinkara Roadster? Let us know in the comments section below.
Have a look: 10 Super UNUSUAL Cars that ever existed in India
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