Maruti Suzuki 800 is a car that almost everyone remotely interested in automobiles will know about. Well, it did change the whole scenario of the market as it was the first front-wheel-drive car with an extremely affordable price tag. The first Maruti Suzuki Suzuki was sold in 1983 but the plan to bring an affordable car for the common man began way back in 1970. Another vehicle, Lloyd LP250 was chosen as a strong contender to become India’s first affordable car – a tag, which is now with Maruti Suzuki 800 or the SS80. So what happened to the Lloyd LP250? Well, here is what you need to know.
Sanjay Gandhi in 1970s decided that there is no car for the common man in India and all the cars on sale are too expensive. The video explains that Sanjay Gandhi travelled to various countries and visited the automobile plants around the world to get his training in the sector and gain more knowledge. While there were cars like Hindustan Ambassador, Padmini Premier and a few others on sale in the market, Sanjay Gandhi was looking for something that more people can buy.
After coming across the Lloyd LP250, Sanjay Gandhi imported three units of the vehicles to India. Two of these imported vehicles were destroyed during the development process where researchers made changes to the vehicle to make it fit for the Indian roads and make it roadworthy. One of these cars is still alive and kicking and it is in perfect condition. The video shows the car from all around too. The car is parked at Gee Car Museum in Coimbatore. Only 4,000 units of this vehicle were ever made, which makes it very rare and only a few examples of the vehicle are surviving around the world.
The car was manufactured in 1956 and it was mainly designed to be a form of personal transport. In 1956, Lloyd launched the LP 250 with a small 250cc, two-stroke, parallel-twin, air-cooled engine. It generates a maximum power of 11 Bhp. It had a three-speed transmission. The Lloyd LP 250 was an extremely basic car and even did not have basic features of modern-day cars like hub caps, bumpers and a backrest for rear passengers. It weighed only 500 kg because of that. It was priced at Rs 3,000 Deutsche Marks in Germany, which roughly translates into around Rs 1.3 lakhs at the current exchange rate. LP250 was a car for the young people and could be driven by those who had not obtained a driving license yet.
Why it did not launch in India?
According to the video, the Lloyd LP250 had several issues and quality concerns. Even after making changes to the body structure of the vehicle, the vehicle would not have survived the Indian road conditions. Also, the price was an issue. Even though it was an entry-level car, the price was not satisfactory enough for the common people in India. That is why the project was scrapped mid-way. Else, the Lyod LP250 would have enjoyed the status of the Maruti Suzuki SS80 in India. We are not sure if the vehicle would have been as successful as the Maruti Suzuki SS80 though.
Several other manufacturers like Renault, Fiat, Daimler and Volkswagen tried entering the Indian market to make the first truly affordable car of the country. The Maruti Suzuki SS80 came with a price tag of Rs 50,000 and the first car was delivered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.