Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Volkswagon Vento On Road Price

Price:  7.32 - 9.99 lakhs
Ex-showroom, New Delhi

Volkswagen Vento Versions

Volkswagen Vento comes in following versions with 2 engine and 2transmission and 2 fuel options. Click on a Vento version name to know on-road price in your city, specifications and features.
VersionEx-Showroom Price (New Delhi) 
Volkswagen Vento Trendline Petrol
1598cc Petrol, Manual, 15.04 kpl
 7.32 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Comfortline Petrol
1598cc Petrol, Manual, 15.04 kpl
 7.89 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Petrol Style
1598cc Petrol, Manual, 15.04 kpl
 7.89 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Trendline Diesel
1598cc Diesel, Manual, 20.5 kpl
 8.47 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Highline Petrol
1598cc Petrol, Manual, 15.04 kpl
 8.81 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Diesel Style
1598cc Diesel, Manual, 20.5 kpl
 9.04 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Comfortline Diesel
1598cc Diesel, Manual, 20.5 kpl
 9.14 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Highline Petrol AT
1598cc Petrol, Automatic, 14.4 kpl Full Specs | Features
 9.81 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento Highline Diesel
1598cc Diesel, Manual, 20.5 kpl
 9.96 lakhs
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Volkswagen Vento TSI
1197cc Petrol, Automatic, 16.93 kpl
 9.99 lakhs
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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ghostrider's Cruze LTZ: Initial Ownership Review

Ghostrider's Cruze LTZ: Initial Ownership Review
I pretty much fell in love with the Cruze when I first clapped eyes on the car. The first thing that struck me was that it had very mondeo-esque proportions, but was much chunkier. It was like a Mondeo that had been working out at the gym for a couple of years.
Over the last couple of years I've kept a close eye on the C and D segments to see what caught my fancy. For a while I was pretty gung-ho about the Vento diesel, but when I drove the car the most important ingredient I look for in a car was missing.... it just didn't put a smile on my face.

Cut to January of 2012, and I decided that is the year I'm biting the bullet. My wife had been listening to me drone on and on about getting a new car for months, and finally she said... "Look, you've clearly wanted the Cruze for a while now. You've thought it through, you can afford it, and frankly if I have to go another day with you trying to justify why you want it I'm going to go crazy!!!"

What else was considered...
The Laura, obviously. They're very similar in a lot of respects, but they're also very different. The Laura feels more germanic when you sit inside the car, but I felt a little underwhelmed on the test drive. No whoosh.
Also, when you compare the car to the Cruze LTZ, the Laura interiors are wayyy too spartan in comparison. Say what you want, but the goodies count for a lot.
The absolute best thing about the Cruze, however, is it's engine. Enough's been said about it on the forums so I won't go into it. All I will say is the power is exhilarating.
Also considered was the Jetta. It's a fantastic car, but it was priced a couple of lakhs too high for comfort.

The booking and dealership experience...
Not the best, to be honest. While the negotiation process was fairly typical (big thanks to GTO here for his thread on buying a new car) I was on a tight schedule for delivery because I was going to be travelling... and they missed the deadline. What was worse though that when the delivery date arrived and I went at the pre-determined time to pick up the car... I was stunned. It was filthy, the accessories hadn't been fitted, and the whole car was covered in a layer of dust.
Needless to say, I raised hell. The manager of the dealership got the firing of her life. These were minor niggles, but they soured the booking experience a bit. Finally, they apologized profusely, cleaned up and polished the car, and home-delivered it wrapped in ribbons and balloons and with a cake from Birdys.


1. What's great about it
  • The engine: Without a doubt, this is the Cruze's party piece. Sources inside GM claim that the turbo lag's been reduced, and I can confirm this. The turbo starts spooling and you can feel the surge building from about 1400-1600 rpm and then the it REALLY kicks in by about 1700-1800. I'm not sure why people say the Cruze MT is tough to drive in the city... I don't think so at all.
  • The steering and manoeuvrability: It's excellent. The Cruze is a big car, but the steering is light enough to make city driving a breeze.
  • The interiors are fantastic. GM seems to have improved thw quality of the plastics immensely. I haven't found a single rough or unfinished edge anywhere. The carpets and the upholstery seems plusher than on older models.
  • NVH is SUPERB. I'm talking about quietness and refinement by petrol car standards. With the windows are up and music off, very little road and engine noise filters through.
  • The AC: It absolutely chills. The climate control works exceedingly well and chills the car in minutes even if it's been parked in the sun.
  • The steering feel: It's the perfect diameter and it's chunky enough for most hand-sizes. Ergonomics are good, all stalks and controls fall easily to hand. Feedback is good.
  • Parking sensors: They're brilliant. I was parking the other day, and I knew there was a single vertical bamboo right at the corner of the bumper (3 inches from the edge)... and the sensors found it.
  • PEPS: It's wonderfully convenient.
  • Little touches: Like the fact that all the storage bins (including the little cubby holes in the door and the sunglasses-holder) are lined with soft material to prevent rattles, like the front center armrest slides forward and backwards for you to find the right driving position, like the little lights on either side of the vanity mirror behind the passenger sunshade. Like the ledge beneath the centre information display is angled and padded so you could rest your phone on it without it sliding around.

2. What's good about it
  • The seats: I'm 5'10 and of medium build and the seats offer the right amount of side and lumbar support.
  • The instrument cluster: everything is well lit, clearly visible, and looks great in ice-blue.
  • The gearshift:... it's slick, but not Vento-slick. The fact that it's a short-throw box is great, but it's not a rapid-action gearshift.
  • The center information display is informative, looks good, and easy to navigate. It's loaded with tweakable options.

3. What's just okay or not-so-good about it
  • The recline angle of the rear seats: It's perhaps 5 degrees too upright. Another 5 degrees of recline would've been superb.
  • The self-dimming OHRVM should've had a manual toggle switch like the Altis does.
  • ICE: It's not the best sound. It's better than most stock systems, but it's pretty low on kick and punch.
  • Stock JK Vectras: are pretty poor tyres. Also, the rim design's a little too bland.... but then that's a great excuse to upgrade :D
  • Some weird quirks: For example, if I turn the car off and open the driver's side door, it kills the music system. Why?? I could just be stepping out for a minute and someone could still be sitting in the car. Also... if you turn the the AC off, it automatically turns the blower into ventilate mode. Why???
  • The Clutch return action: Too strong. It takes some getting used to. Nailing perfect gearshifts is going to take some practice!! :D

4. Accessories and mods
  • Rims: were upgraded to Lenso ES6 17-inchers. I literally went through 100-120 designs of rims over weeks and weeks. I wanted something that would stand out, but not too flash. Something sedate and sporty at the same time.
  • Tyres: Yokohama Advan Sports, running 225/50 profiles. I haven't had a chance to really explore the limits of grip yet, but a big thanks to Akshay1234, Amey, Nishant Gandhi, and m4ugr8 for helping me select them.
  • Tints: Haven't gotten them yet... but will be getting my Vkools this week.
  • Tuning Box: My Swift had one, and while the power of the Cruze seems more than enough right now, I'm sure I'll be itching for some extra horses in a couple of months.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

First Look: Audi R8 GT

First Look: Audi R8 GT

Audi has imported an R8 GT for showcasing it during the R Drive event at its Delhi outlet.

  • Its a track ready version of the R8 V10 with some weight shaved off and carbon fibre kits splashed all around. Think of it as Audi's version of the superleggera.
  • Powered by 5.2 V10, it makes 560 ps and does 0-100 in a claimed 3.6 seconds.
  • Only 333 coupes wll be built, in addition to 333 R8 GT spyders. The colour showcased was a matt frosty white.

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Special Sport Bikes: Part 3: Bimota V-Du

Special Sport Bikes: Part 3: Bimota V-Due

Bimota V-Due: The forbidden fruit

Last weekend, despite being under the weather, I searched through a dilapidated carton for my favorite article in Motorcyclist [or Cycle World] magazine titled – "knocking on heavens door" – the heaven alluded to here is Rimini, Italy, home of Bimota. I could not find it, but with the help of my son, launched a project to revive the last remnants of my video collection of F1 races from the 90s. I had a few hundred tapes of full races and qualifying sessions – now reduced to around 30. My next article should have an apt caption: "Now playing at Ksanjeev's - 1994 Italian GP."

Back to the topic – great excitement surrounded the imminent launch of V-Due at the Milan motorcycle show in late 1995. It was indeed an ambitious project on two fronts. It was not only the first bike to be powered by Bimota motor but also a platform to prove the viability of 2-strokes – and this, during a time when the two-stroke intelligentsia was beginning to disappear faster than the ozone layer. The V-Due flaunted a direct injected 500 V-Twin, a technology that Bimota had been working on since 1990. Bimota had shown their ability to innovate with radical ideas around chassis and suspension – case in point - the success of Tesi – which continues to flourish two decades after its introduction. Would the same apply to their engine department and would the gamble pay off for a small company already in challenging financial times.

In 1996, Honda announced their intent to field privateer teams with the V-Twin brethren of their mighty NSR500 V-4. This was in the interest of filling the grid with competitive yet affordable machines. Although in today's analogue, it would be like the CRT experiment, make no mistakes about the NSR Twin – it was NOT based on any production/superbike platform – but built from the ground-up. HRC produced 20 odd bikes in total from 1997 to 2001 before the MotoGP class killed the glorious 2-stroke era. The NSR twin had indeed produced impressive results and showed solid potential.

So there you have it, you could buy from Bimota, a V-Twin powered 500cc 2stroke that came close to a GP machine, all for under 30,000 USD. Bimota produced a few 100 and I had chance to see one in flesh at GP motorcycles in San Diego, California. The bike was not super attractive to say the least. It simply lacked the sex appeal of a Tesi. It did feature exquisite bracketry, Carbon fiber rear subframe and integrated mono-posto tail - fully adjustable Paoli forks and an Ohlins rear shock mated with what experts believe was a superb chassis. With around 110HP and tipping in at 300 odd pounds, it would not out gun an R1 on a long straight. But Bimota was not after setting records on out right horse power or top speed – but rather delivering a street legal track weapon – especially one that leverages 2-stroke simplicity in Bimota skins and chassis. The engine was a work of art – too bad it was hidden under the full fairing – but it would turn out to be the least of its problems.

Come 1997, the euphoria around the debut quickly turned into a mass recall of all the bikes – and this recall actually was different – because Bimota basically bought all the bikes back. The culprit was the direct injection technology – where oil was fed separately and not mixed with the fuel as in conventional petrol EFI systems. It was be-fit with gremlins that wrecked havoc with the combustion chamber –fouling spark plugs in a few hours. A Carburetor retrofit was offered – but it was a farce in light of the purpose of this grandiose project. It suffices to say that it did very little in saving the V-Due much less saving Bimota. The financial causality was severe enough to drive Bimota to bankruptcy – ironically the V-Due was the first and the last of Bimota powered motorcycle. I have read that all the bikes, spares and legal rights were bought out by a Bimota engineer. Somewhat of a somber ending to what could have been a great weapon for 2-stroke craze.

I sometimes wonder why Bimota did not collaborate with Cagiva for Fuel Injection technology since Cagiva had a proven platform with their V594 racer. In fact, Cagiva commenced their work with EFI in 1988 – probably even ahead of HRC. They had experience with the Weber-Marelli systems [adapted from Ducati Suberbikes], TAG electronics, and had hired experts from F1 to get this right. Cagiva, tuned various aspects of their FI platform by running countless laps on various circuits for years. Andrea Goggi, head of engine development for Cagiva had emphasized the need for thorough testing to get the injector position, fuel pressure and quality of spray dialed in – with a squirt for each crank shaft rotation per cylinder unlike a 4-stroke. While recognizing that the Cagiva EFI was developed with a focus on maximizing power and V-Due's had to balance power and emissions, I still feel there was a middle ground. With the Castiglioni brothers' decision to pull out GP racing, the last of EFI powered 2-Strokes would end-up on a pedestal at CRC.

I really wish Bimota had sorted out the direct injection technology fully before launching the bike for public even if it meant a year delay. May be this would have been the holy grail for saving the 2-stroke technology.

Today there is a very good resource pool for the V-Due. So, it could a dream project for a 2-stroke nut with liberal financial resources. I am neither, but, still cannot completely rule-out the possibility of getting one – but I simply don't like the carbureted version since it defeats the original purpose of the project.

I have a unique candidate for my next special sport bike of choice..

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Single Day, 4 States, 1000 KM in 18 hours

Single Day, 4 States, 1000 KM in 18 hours

It was late back in 2005, when I was first travelling from Hyderabad to Kerala by road and the 4 lane work of NH7 just started, I thought that one day I should be able to drive in a single day from Hyderabad to Kerala. And this dream has been in my mind since then. This seed sprouted again when one of my invited me for his marriage. As an icing on the cake his marriage is going to be in Calicut so that I can drive through the driver's paradise Bandipur Jungle, Wayanad "Churam". ( I have never travelled through this road).
First steps was to get the approval from my parents and wife. Somehow got that . (In other words I can say that I took it ). The next thing was thinking aloud about the travel .. Planned to start from Hyderabad as early as 4:00 AM. Planned to reach Bangalore outskirts by 10:00 AM. (I have done a couple of Bangalore trips in the last 7 months and my average time was 6 hours to reach Bangalore outskirts). From Bangalore it is nearly 400 KM to Calicut, so with the info collected from friends and relatives, I projected 5-6 hours of driving time from Bangalore exteriors to Calicut. 2 hours to cross Bangalore city. 1 hour for Lunch break. So an overall time of 15 hours.
Took the car to service station and did a complete check-up. Did a wheel alignment. Changed the Wiper blades to Bosch. Burned a couple of CD's with AR Rahman hits for the travel.

The trip.
First setback of the trip. The CD's burned on the previous days were not playing. I tried to burn the CD's on the Developer Preview of Windows 8 and I think that is the reason.
Promised to meet my friends from my office at 3:55 AM . So I started from my home at 3:45 AM and reached office by 3:55. One of my friends remembered to update his weekly time sheet by that time only. (You can imagine how difficult A software engineer's life ……). So had to wait till 4:45 to start from there. 4 people, all set to experience their longest drive in a day.
We entered Nehru ORR and to NH 7 and the distance was 22.7 KM, we covered it in exactly 9 minutes. (Wow I really liked that figure.) Kept on cruising .. Crossed Kurnool at 6:45 AM (220 KM in 2 hours). Reached a dabba near penukonda (The exact name of the place is ChennaKothapally) at 8:45 and stopped for breakfast .. (Selected this particular one because this is being owned by a mallu guy ..) Good breakfast and relaxed for some time and started at 9:40.
Crossed New International Airport by 10:30. Saw a Essar pump near Yelhanka and put Diesel from there. Till this time the mileage was 17.35. (We were cruising at really good speed averaging around 120-130, with 100% A/C and this is a mileage I feel).
Reached Hebbal at 11:15 and we were thinking by this velocity we would be reaching Calicut by evening 4-5. Crossed Bangalore city by 12:30. Stopped near a computer accessory shop to write the CD's again and this time it worked. Started from there 12:40. (Near BHEL circle).
Stopped for lunch in a Kamat restaurant chain .. really good food. Enjoyed to the core. Haven't taken much break there. Lunch was over in 30 minutes. Started from there by 1:40 and reached Mysore by 3:10. The luxury of good road ends here. Took a diversion to Kozhikode through the outer ring road. Seems like the road is not completed fully after some driving again we had to come to city for taking the Kozhikode.
From Mysore only I started enjoying the drive. Single lane road (Without divider) with lot of turnings .. Crossed Gundulpet, Bandipur and reached Sulthan Bathery by 5:00. In between stopped near Muthanga for a coffee from a roadside shop. Wah.. What a taste after a long time had such a good coffee.

Once we reached Sulthan Bathery, We were thinking Kozhikode is just 90 KM from there , so we should be reaching there by max 7 PM. With this assumption we started driving, to our surprise in some areas there were no roads at all. We could see big big boulders in the road. And our car kissed a couple of such boulders. There was no momentum at all. In 2 hours we could cover only 35 Km only. One of my friend wanted a Massage in Kozhikode and after travelling for 2 hours he said that now he doesn't want a body massage as it has been already done (With the condition of the road he already got a good massage … ) When he saw that we covered only 35 KM in 2 hours, he was saying that measurement for a KM in Kerala is different from other states … To add the Chaos once we crossed Pulpally there was a traffic jam in the road because one truck broke down in the middle of the road and the Vehicle movement was very slow. Luckily people are in Q and there was slow momentum. If it could have been in Hyderabad, then I am sure we would not have moved from there until unless someone came and controlled the traffic. After all these hurdles reached Kozhikode at 10:05 PM. For me it was almost 18+ hours journey. The interesting part is that 3 states, 975 KM in a day .. A dream came true.
Stayed in a Hotel in Claicut. Had a sound sleep. Got up at 8:00 AM got ready and went for the marriage of my friend. Marriage got over by 12:00 noon. Went out for some shopping. My wifes birthday was on next day. So bought some authentic Kerala design jewelry from Atlas Jewelry and some dresses from Kalyan Silks. Most importantly bought Calicut Halwa (Which is very famous in Kerala) from the authentic "Mittai Theruvu" (The meaning is sweet street) for my friends. One of my friend wanted to go to Coimbatore and we dropped him also in bus stand.
Return Journey

As the road condition was really bad. We explored another option by asking the taxi drivers in Calicut. And every one suggested Nilambur-->Vazhikkadavu --> Gudalur --> Gundalpet --> Mysore and we took that route and we started at 2:40. The road was very narrow but the road condition was awesome. In every 5 minute there was a small town and we had to slow down every now and then. But I really enjoyed the driving … You need to overtake very carefully, curves are very sharps, I like this road .. Worth driving … Reached Vazhikkadavu at 5:40. Stopped there for a tea/coffee and surprised to see the prices of Banana, Tapioca, Coconut, etc. are very cheap. So bought very large quantity of all these items. Now the boot is also full .. Started from there by 6:15 and entered in to forest zone and very good drive .. Started climbing towards Gudalur.. Man this drive is getting better by better every minute. Ford's drivability had been helping me in taking sharp turns with ease.
Near Gudalur saw a garden restaurant which is near to tea plantation factory. So thought of having food there. When we enter, that restaurant is also owned by a mallu .. Great food .. We had quail biryani .. And started from there immediately. Because have to cross Bandipur forest by 9:00 PM …. On the way we saw so many elephants and one incident was little bit freaky. There was a thick fog and I was using wiper to clean glass. Onetime I wanted to check whether fog is forming inside of the glass also and I just examined with the hand, so I took the eyes from the road for a momentum, then next moment I heard a scream from my friend, "Elephant" and a Single Tusker on our immediate left .. Oh my god, I don't know what are all the feeling came to my mind …
Crossed Bandipur exactly by 9:00, so we were about to leave the sanctuary the entry from the Mysore they closed and was not allowing a KSRTC bus to come towards Calicut saying that the time is already over . Later we could understand that this is a trick from the Forest officials to take money from passengers. But this time the scene was different. Some of the passengers started beating the Forest officials and they opened the gate. Lesson learned again .. Need to react wherever needed 
Once I crossed Mysore started getting a little bit sleep. So wanted to take some coffee (Black coffee) and to my surprise there was no roadside coffee shop. At last we found one and there was no coffee.. So again continued the driving .. And we found a Café' A Coffee day outlet. Stopped there. Had a black coffee. Oh Jesus., what a strong coffee. Literally I could not able to sleep for next 12 hours. (Seriously)..

Reached my sister's place in Bangalore by 2:30 AM (390 KM in almost 12 hours …) Wanted to have a nice sleep. But the black coffee was not allowing me to sleep. Hardly had only an hour sleep in the night …

We were thinking of starting in the afternoon having a good sleep. As I was not getting the sleep, changed the mind and started at 10:00 AM .. As I haven't got a good sleep I was not driving that fast .. When we saw a shell pump we put the diesel from there. Even with the hilly drive. The mileage was 20.9 .. That is an amazing figure..
When we reached Kurnool I was getting some sleep. So thought of taking a nap and we really slept for more than 30 minutes and had a coffee from there then started again. As it was becoming night, the rush was building up in the road and we were not able to overtake any one because of the so called "disciplined" driving … (Hope you got the sarcasm ).

We reached Gachibowli at 7:20 PM. 1965 KM, 4 states and 3 days.. A wonderful journey. I am really thanking to my family members and my friends.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Obiang Family Cars Seized in Paris

The Obiang Family Cars Seized in Paris
Police conducting a money-laundering probe into Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979, swooped on his Paris mansion and seized 11 Super Cars. This news is from September 30th 2011 but I thought it'll be good to share it here considering the cars that were seized. His son Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue is also supposed to have an amazing collection at his Malibu Mansion in USA. He recently purchased a $380 Million Yacht. I'm always into shock and awe and my face looks like this :Shockked: everytime I read about the kind of wealth these guys have.

More info on Father & Son respectively at the following links

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

More info on the seize of cars:

11 Supercars of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo Seized by French Police

Here are the pictures of the cars that were seized from his Paris mansion.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Which of the New Age Two Wheelers Have the Inherent Charecters to Become A Classic? Which of the New Age Two Wheelers Have the Inherent Charecters to Become A Classic?

Which of the New Age Two Wheelers Have the Inherent Charecters to Become A Classic?
We have seen many older two wheelers metamorphose to be now recognized as classics and vintages.The list is endless and some that were not given a second look have also now come to be regarded in the favoured categories.Time plays the greatest role in transforming these machines from zero to hero (sorry heroine as these are she's).
Take the case of Lambretta scooters among the many examples.Till the Quota Raj was in vogue, Lambrettas (the Li 150) commanded premiums and waiting lists of up to 8 to 10 years.The build quality and the components were excellent in the older ones, but soon after 1965, the deterioration commenced. The later scooters were prone to rust, nuts and bolts when even slightly, excessively tightened would damage the threads.The reliability was suspect and starting trouble was a rule. I can personally vouch for these minuses, as we had three of them and I learnt most of my DIY jobs on these.When the bookings ceased, API landed into a cesspool and had to eventually quit the scene. Now these are classics.
Back to the topic, I would add a few names of two wheelers that are likely to become classics sooner or later:
(1) Yamaha RD 350- costs Rs 100,000 plus now. Remember enquiring about it for Rs 18,000 in a showroom around 1985.
(2) Yamaha RX 100-own one
(3) Bajaj Chetak - the original ones meant for export
(4) Peugeot Sportif- the moped with a self starter (showroom priice Rs 6500 in 1984)
(5) Vespa XE- attracted very long booking lists followed by cancellations!
(6) Royal Enfield Bullet 350 - the original black ones, which from the older era already are.(Yeh Dosti Hum Nahi Chhodenge (Sholay) and Zindagi Ek Safar Hain Suhana (Andaz) fame). Royal Enfield has named two of its models as Classics (350 and 500cc), but that does not give these the licence to become classics.
(7) Vespa PL 170- joke was that the Bajaj Super after a bout of malaria had become frail !
The additions to this list by friends should be preferably from the list of mass produced two wheelers and not imports like the BMW F 650 that was once launched with fanfare but bombed.

1993 MM540 4X4 Restoration

Hey everyone,
Let me start by introducing myself, i'm Sachin Patrick from Bangalore, doing my architecture here, been an automobile enthusiast pretty much all my life.
It was a couple of years ago that i got bitten by the Jeep bug, after i took my brother and fellow bhp-ian, J_4_Jeep's CLASSIC out for a spin!
With a lot of hunting, i was able to acquire myself a 1993 MM540 4wd here in Bangalore. It was used in a convent all along, hence hasn't been exposed to any form of off-roading as yet.. Engine work done recently, 4wd disconnected, body has a bit of rust in certain places, overall condition: good.
After using her for almost a year now, i've decided to restore my jeep, in Wayanad at Erumad auto industries near Bathery, pictures will follow in a day or two.
Let the pictures speak for itself :)

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