India has a long and rich history of automobiles. The car market of the country gained pace since 1990s. Since then, we’ve had many cars that were launched in the market but that barely made an impact. Let’s take a trip back into memory lane and find out 15 such cars from the past that are really rare sights on Indian roads.
Skoda Octavia Combi
The Octavia was the first notchback of India. Based on the car, Skoda launched the Skoda Combi station wagon. It was a great product indeed but failed to take off because station wagons were not a popular choice back then.
The car came in two variants diesel and RS. The 1.9-litre diesel engine produced 88 Bhp while the 1.8-litre petrol engine produced 150 Bhp of maximum power in the Octavia Combi.
The Forester was sold in India in mid 2000s and was brought in India by Chevrolet. The car was actually made by Subaru and rebranded to be launched in India. The car powered by an excellent 2.0-litre petrol boxer engine.
The car featured all-wheel drive system as standard and came with 190 mm of ground clearance. It was very practical but came with a huge price tag.
The car was created in collaboration with Mitsubishi and was launched in 1997. It lived a short life of two years and was positioned as a luxury multi-purpose family van. The Voyager was launched targeting the Maruti Omni but the car did not get any traction in the market.
The Voyager was based on the Mitsubishi LS300 van which is quite famous in the international markets. It failed due to poor marketing of the product that failed to impress the Indian customers. The van was priced at Rs. 5 lakh and was powered by 2.1-litre Peugeot engine.
The Veer was the last attempt by Hindustan Motors to revive the sales of the company. It was a pick-up based on the Ambassador. The car brought back a lot of memories of the Hindustan Porter pickup truck that was sold in the 1980s.
The pick-up truck came with the same Ambassador engine and was available in diesel BS3 and CNG BS4 engine options. The car hardly picked up any customers and died a silent death soon after the launch.
It was Hindustan Motor’s attempt to build a people carrier in the 1980s. The Trekker was built on the frame of Ambassador but with a huge makeshift body to fit as many people as possible. It had a very simple design and did not have great looks.
The Trekker and Pushpak came in two variants – one with closed body type with four doors and another open roof type with two doors. It was powered by 1.5-litre diesel engine that made a paltry 37.5 Bhp. Though the car was available till 1999, it’s still a rare find on the roads due to poor sales.
Opel Corsa Swing
Opel has now disappeared from the Indian ecosystem. In their prime, the company launched the Corsa Swing based on the Corsa sedan. It was one smart looking car and came in an era when station wagons were plenty in India.
The car came with 1.6-litre petrol engine that generated 92 Bhp of maximum power. The car was fast and could do speeds up to 170 km/h. Targeted at families, the Corsa Swing did not become very famous in the market because of after-sales service issues and service costs.
Fiat had quite a presence in India in the past. The Adventure was based on the Palio hatchback and was launched to tap the potential of the station wagons in India.
The car was powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine that produced 100 Bhp of power. The car was again aimed at families but never did take gain any sales in India. The car was discontinued in 2007 and is a rarest of rare find on Indian roads.
Maruti Baleno Altura
The first estate from Maruti Suzuki in India, the Baleno Altura was based on the much popular Baleno sedan. The car was introduced in 2002 and was powered 1.6-litre, 94 Bhp petrol engine and had good space in it.
The car failed to pick up sales in the market because it was just too expensive. During the time of its launch, the Altura carried a sticker price of Rs. 7.5 lakh. The production of the car finally came to an end in 2005 and it was discontinued in 2007.
You would not have probably even heard of this name. The Kazwa came from little known Indian manufacturer from Kerala. It was one of the first MPVs of India, and was based on the Renault Escape. The car was ready for sale in 1998.
Despite clearing homologation, the Kazwa was never sold in the market. It was powered by a 2-litre turbo diesel engine from Hindustan Motors that generated 70 Bhp of maximum power. Only 7 units of the car were built and it is a super rare sight on road.
The Rover Montego was India’s first luxury sedan. The car was launched in 1991 and was available in both sedan and station wagon forms. It was sold by little known Sipani Automobiles in India and was discontinued in 1995.
The car came with a 2-litre diesel engine and 5-speed manual transmission. At that time, it featured power steering, power windows, AC and all the modern car comforts. It carried a price tag of Rs. 11 lakh and failed to attract any buyers.
Ford tried to enter the luxury segment in India with the Mondeo. The American company imported the sedan and started selling it in 2002. It was a great car and did catch a lot of attention from the enthusiasts but was not a value for money product.
The car was powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produced 142 Bhp of maximum power and a diesel engine that produced 128 bhp of maximum power.
The Vectra was introduced to the Indian market in 2002. It was a luxury sedan and was powered by a very potent 2.2-litre 146 bhp petrol engine. The car was loaded with electronics and equipments.
The Vectra started developing problems early after its launch because of Indian driving conditions. Most of the cars spent most time in service centres than on road. The car was discontinued in 2004.
The Tata Estate was a car that was launched much before its time in India. It was Tata’s first attempt to make passenger cars and carried very advanced features like power windows, power steering, tachometer. The car was launched in 1992, which was pretty early for all the gizmos.
It was based on the Mercedes-Benz T-Series station wagon cars. The Estate’s life came to an end in 2000 due to poor sales.
The Nexia is the powerful version of the Daewoo Cielo. The Nexia came to India with more powerful 1.6-litre petrol engine that produced around 90 Bhp. It looked very good for its time.
The Nexia was stopped when Daewoo packed up their business in India. The car returned very poor fuel mileage but had a timeless design. It is very difficult to get a glimpse of Nexia in today’s age.
San Motors Storm
The San Storm was the first convertible in India is made by a company based in Goa. The company was bought was Kingfisher famed Vijay Mallya. The two-seater car is made of fibre-glass body and is very light weight.
The car is powered by 1.2-litre engine sourced from Renault that develops 60 Bhp of maximum power and is mated to a five speed transmission. The car is a very rare find on Indian roads.