Is the Tata Nano India’s first people’s car? Or is it the Maruti 800? Well, even before the 800 arrived into India way back in 1984, plenty of people’s cars were built. From Bajaj to Sipani, a lot of automakers built interesting little cars. This story is of one such car.
What’s it all about?
It’s a micro car/bubble car, built by a company called Scootacar. The company, which was established in 1971 at Tirupati – Andhra Pradesh, doesn’t exist any more. However, its name lives on in the car, which was also named Scootacar. And less than 5 known examples of the Scootacar are said to exist in India. Team-BHPian Karl Bhote found one in the classifieds, and has lovingly restored it, thus saving a piece of India’s little known automotive history. Hat tip, Karl.
The origins of the Scootacar
Scootacar was originally a German micro car called the Fuldamobil, built in the 1950s by a company called Elektromaschinenbau Fulda GmbH. While both convertible and hardtop versions of the 3 wheeled car were available, the Indian company wisely bought the hardtop fiberglass bodies from Germany, which it intended to assemble by adding local parts, and sell here in India.
The Indian company used a 175cc two stroke, single cylinder Villiers engine to power this car. The 7.5 Bhp engine came off the Royal Enfield Fantabulous scooter, wheels from a Bajaj autorickshaw, the glass from AtulTuf, headlamps from Lambretta, the number plate light from the Hindustan Ambassador and electrical switches from Anchor. In other words, the Scootacar seems more like a homebrew assembly built out of locally available parts.
But why did such a car even happen?
Much before Narendra Modi arrived with the Make-in-India campaign, a freshly independent India decided to stop relying on foreign cars, and instead encouraged local manufacturers to build a people’s car. From Bajaj to Sipani, Scootacar to Standard Motors, a bunch of homegrown automakers tried to build their own versions of the people’s car. Most of them perished as they couldn’t meet homologation, and only the Maruti 800 really survived.