The Indian automotive industry began to flourish in the late 1900s. Many companies introduced their cars to Indian customers. Some made a pretty good mark whereas some made a pretty good history. One such company, which goes by the name Sipani, also tried to make a place in the market. One of the most successful cars from Sipani is the Dolphin. Let’s have a look at the history here.
1982 – Sipani Introduces Dolphin
Sipani’s Badal failed to gain traction in the market and so the company had to bring something which would look more like a car. This is when the Sipani Dolphin was launched. It is the Indian version of the Reliant Kitten, the British four-wheeled hatchback.
But the car was deemed to be a lemon car. For those who don’t know what a lemon car is, it is a car which has a lot of manufacturing defects which hinder the performance and safety of the car. Sipani Dolphin had a whole fibreglass body. This is the reason that it was deemed to be unsafe.
Not everything was poor. Dolphin was powered by a Reliant-sourced 848cc engine that could churn out 38hp of power. To give you a hint, Maruti Suzuki 800 also produced around the same figures in terms of power. Thus, the two-doored Dolphin became a hit due to the light fibre-glass body and powerful engine. But only in the motorsports. It was very rapidly growing in the rally race. But this fame was also short lived.
Montana – The last try
Sipani Dolphin’s sale was totally hindered by the Maruti 800 in the upcoming years. So the company tried to save the Dolphin by adding two more doors to it and naming it Montana. The design of Dolphin was made more square in shape and a larger rear overhang was given to it. Montana diesel had also been launched in 1989. This mill was capable of producing 25hp @ 2,700rpm. Even though being more successful than Dolphin, the car was not able to compete with the king of the roads, Maruti 800. Sipani Montana used to give a little glimpse of the 800 as many of the parts were sourced from the competitor itself.
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What went wrong?
Actually, everything! Time of the launch of cars clashed with the Maruti 800. Dolphin was launched in 1982, a year before the 800 and Montana was introduced in 1987. This was the time when none of the cars from any manufacturer were able to compete with the hatch from Maruti.
The second biggest issue was safety. People although cared less about safety those days, but everyone knew that fibreglass was not safe at all. The whole fibreglass body was surely helping in keeping the weight and the price down but safety also took the downturn.
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The third was the company itself. Sipani had a dull start right from the beginning. There was little research done about the Indian market. Sipani could have done better if the research was done properly. But now, there is no fun of talking about it as the company closed the shutters by 2002. Although Sipani was not able to make a name in the automotive industry, it surely has made its name in the history of the same. And Sipani Dolphin is a part of it. What do you think about the fibreglass hatch? Do you own one? Let us know in the comments section below.
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