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In the past, cars from different countries had distinct characteristics. These days, what with the world being a 'global village', it's difficult to figure out the origins of your car. Its engine may come from Stuttgart and Pune, the gearbox from Tokyo, the tyres from Chennai, the body from Italy and the brand label will proudly declare, 'Made in China'. TOI-Crest takes a drive down memory lane, recounting how cars in the past reflected their countries of origin.
Main claim to fame is naturally the power Ambassador, (white only), which could bucket over a river bed and be incontinent with its sump while ferrying the President over a red carpet. Latest original entry, Tata's little Nano, which, alas, has been more of a Nono. For shame! When will we ever learn?
Where it all began. Like the people, their cars are made of brushed stainless steel or aluminium, and with as much humour. But engineered to perfection - every nut and bolt can be put up in an art museum. Most memorable car in their history, naturally the VW Beetle: Hitler's brainchild and universal love bug of the hippie generation. Who said there's no hope in the world?
Memorable for the fact that they once made cars that looked like prams, farm machinery or duck-billed platypuses and then fitted them with rocket science technology, so that no one knew how to open the bonnet and the car was able to change its tyres entirely on its own.
Well on their way to being the world's biggest manufacturer of 'genuine fakes'. You can get everything from the London taxi to the big S class Mercedes. They will soon make 'genuine fakes' of 'genuine fakes'.
God they must be squirming! They won both the World Wars, but lost Rolls-Royce, Bentley and even the chubby Mini to the Kraut! They lorded over India for 200 years, to what end? Now both Jaguar and Land Rover are Indian and roaring along just fine. (And now we have Hari Puttar in our ranks too!) But they're bulldog optimists: living on a cold, rainy little island they still love their two-seater convertibles. And have occasional flashes of sheer genius like the E-type Jaguar.
Everything of course had to be Texas-sized, to show that they were the biggest and most lush. Till the '70s, their cars were burbling oil-tanker behemoths that took two days to do a 'U' turn and had suspension systems that could make you sea-sick and petrol consumption that was measured in kilo-gallons per foot. Designwise, the best were the Chevrolet Corvette and the Ford GT. Then alas, the Arabs shut the pumps and the dinosaurs went kaput. Ever since, Detroit has fallen apart.
Drop dead gorgeous looks, sex and temper tantrums above everything else! How else can you describe a scarlet Ferrari screaming its lungs out as it hits the limiter at 275 kmph? They also made (and still do) an awful lot of roller-skate runabouts, which bounce giddily around Rome like whirligig beetles and are called Fiats.
At first used to make rattly tin-pots, then when the Yanks went bust, shrunk-fit American cars and put in engines which could take them to Jupiter and back without an oil change and sold them at vegetable prices. Won't be surprised if the rover on Mars is suddenly escorted by a brace of Toyota Prados...
They've suddenly come into cars in a big way, doing to the Japs what the Japs did to the Americans. The Japs have Honda, they have Hyundai... Need one say anything more?
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