While Chevrolet is celebrating one hundred years of its existence as the favourite brand of america, we delve into the times of india archives to bring across the early moves of the cars with the bow tie logo in india. Strikingly similar to the Chevrolet strategy then, he opines with movement on the ground now
|Gandhi's arrival in Simla, in 1945|
Chevrolet, the great American car brand is one hundred years old and running with as much gusto as it did when its founder turned from racing cars for a living to making cars for the masses! Louis Chevrolet, who made his name racing cars of his own design, put together the marque which was, in the course of a few years, going to be the cornerstone of the huge General Motors group. Ford, which was the then dominant car manufacturer in the US, had already set the ball rolling for the motorisation of the US with the Model T but Henry Ford’s obstinate obsession to persist with this design for more years than one could imagine gave Chevrolet the chance to offer much needed variety to the American masses.
From the mid-1920s onwards, GM launched Chevrolet as its mass market brand against Ford and since then it has always been a Chevy or a Ford as the best-seller in the US. And this holds true to this day though now it is the truck category (lifestyle pick-ups, mind you) that they fight for leadership in but that’s another story altogether.
Not many know that Chevrolet entered India in the middle of the second decade in the last century and the early going was by means of specialist importers in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras as these cities were then known, serving as the flag-bearers of the cars with the bow tie logo. The earliest models were no different from the Ford Model T, in configuration, but the Chevys were slightly robust and better structured and more importantly, they were the cheapest cars on the market then. Cheap didn’t necessarily translate into poor quality stuff but with a competitive price tag they represented good value considering the British and Ford rivals then selling in India.
The first Chevys featured a 22.5HP four-cylinder motor breathing via a Zenith carburettor and featuring a three-speed plus reverse gearbox. Mind you, reverse gear was just getting to be a big thing and the Chevrolet had it from day one in India. If that wasn’t all, it also did away with the crank handle and featured electric start, had proper drum brakes to scrub off speed, adjustable dual-stepped windscreen, an electric rather than a bulb horn plus also a speedometer. It was priced for the princely sum of Rs 3250/00 and it seemed that this competitive pricing allied to its performance quickly made it the car of choice for many motorists on a budget.
Nizam of Hyderabad (Dakkan) – considered the richest man in the world at the time – used Chevrolet Tourers as official cars.
Ayub Khan is touring Pakistan with visiting Indian Prime Minister Jawarlal Nehru in another iconic General Motors vehicle, the 1956 Cadillac Eldorado.
Chevrolets were sold in Pakistan well into the 1970s, after which the automotive regime was changed and Chevrolet gradually withdrew to its home market in the United States .
INDIRA GANDHI IN A CHEVROLET IMPALA
Bollywood's symbol of choice has almost always been a Chevrolet. Take this encounter from the iconic 1971 film, Hathi Mere Sathi.
A Chevrolet Bel Air 1955, of the Tri-Year series, bobbing along with its animal counterpart does not seem incongruous, when you hear Kishore Kumar’s golden voice sing, 'Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechara, Kadam Na Hote Aavara, Jo Khubsurat Koi Apna Humsafar Hota
"Caroon Mein Ek Car Chuni Hai, Car Chuni Hai Impala
- Pradeep & Madhubala - Passport