Microcars are not something that you would easily come across in our country. We had a few microcars in recent times including the Rewa electric car which was then succeeded by the Mahindra e20. Bajaj also launched its Qute Quadricycle recently which adds to the list of microcars in India. To let you know, there have been plans to launch several microcars on our roads over different periods of time, though none of them could make it big in the market while some of them were not even launched. Today, we take a look into our nation’s automotive past to find if there were any other quirky and tiny cars that you may have never heard of.
Though the Qute may the only microcar on sale in India right now, it is hardly Bajaj’s first foray into the world of micro ‘cars’. What you see above is the PTV (private transport vehicle) that was built in the 1980s, at a time when Bajaj was trying to make a car out of an autorickshaw. This was due to the limitations imposed on the number of auto-rickshaws a manufacturer could make at that time.
As mentioned earlier, the PTV was based on an autorickshaw frame which was cut down to size and featured a rack and pinion steering wheel setup which replaced the regular auto handlebars. It was powered by a 145cc auto-rickshaw engine and had a metallic body. A total of 10 prototypes were made, but the model never entered production.
For those who might have watched the Rowan Atkinson starred Mr. Bean TV series, they would be familiar with a three-wheeled vehicle that was often shown during the show. Its name was Reliant Robin but back in India, we had a distant cousin of the Reliant Robin which was known as the Sipani Badal. However, as most of you might have guessed, it failed badly in our market.
The Sipani Badal was powered by a 198cc, two-stroke engine that powered the rear wheels. It had a fibreglass body but the three-wheeler concept for private usage wasn’t something that wowed any Indian buyers in the late 1970s.
The Sipani Badal was not the only three-legged car we had in our country. Back in the day, there was a vehicle called the Scootacar that was India’s answer to the well-known German Fuldamobil. Unlike the Sipani Badal though, the single wheel was at the rear on this car. Unlike its German counterpart which was powered by a Sachs engine, the Scootacar used a 500cc Villiers unit.
The Gogomobil was once a German microcar and it was being planned to be manufactured and sold in India when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was still the Prime Minister of India. The Gogomobil was marketed as a small car for the large families. It was powered by a 250cc single-cylinder engine that could take the car to a top speed of about 100 km/h (62mph). Sadly though, never took off and ended up in the old archive of plans.
Meera Mini Car
An honest indigenous at making a microcar, the Meera Mini car hailed from the Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. Unlike the other cars featured here, multiple generations of the Meera Mini car were made. The one you see here is the first-gen car. However, due to the red tape at the time, it never really managed to take off. This car was powered by a 19bhp, air/water-cooled four-stroke engine that enabled the car to reach speeds up to 88.5kph (55mph).
Trishul Diesel Tourer
This Jeep lookalike microcar was called the Trishul Diesel Tourer. It was manufactured by Trishul Crafts Auto Ltd in Patna, Bihar. The car was fitted with four seats, a ragtop roof that could be removed, and a Trishul hood ornament which added more seriousness to the manufacturer’s name. Powering the Trishul Diesel Tourer was a single-cylinder Greaves-Lombardini diesel engine. The front windshield of this car could be flipped down on the bonnet just like the Jeeps of old.
Rajah Motors was owned by the Kerela based Rajah Group that had a big business of manufacturing beedis among other things. The motor division of this company showcased the Rajah Motors Creeper which is a tiny two-seater, four-wheeled car that looks more like a boxy ATV than anything else. Rajah Motors is also credited with creating the Kazwa which is deemed as the first MPV of India, though it was sold in big numbers. Talking about the Creeper, it was revealed to the world at the 2012 Auto Expo in New Delhi and powered by an 800 cc engine along with having a width of only 1.25 metres.
Images courtesy Team-BHP