Saturday, 1 October 2016

Mahindra Thar Chapter 3 - 'The Jeep Legacy'

I would like to dedicate this post to 'Sir Uday Bhan Singh' or respectfully called  'The Jeep guru'.
A man who restored his first Jeep at the age of 14.
 Who is the first Asian member of the Military Vehicles Preservation Association.
  Who is the first Indian to receive a Life Time Achievement Award from Rain Forest Challenge India
And who is a proud owner of 85 Jeeps ranging from M38 to Dodge 1.5 tonne WC63.

If you are an admirer of this gentleman like me, you can read more about him in this article published by The Telegraph

The Story continues: Next day early morning I thought of studying everything about the Thar..The details would help me in making the changes I desired..I read quite a few blogs, news articles, websites and extracted the following information.

 Most of us know something of the Jeep's origin story, with the military sending out a list of requirements and an insane 49-day deadline, and only plucky little desperate American Bantam actually got a vehicle in by the deadline. But what's less known is the insane vehicle that inspired it all: the Belly-Flopper.

Howie-Wiley Machine Gun Carrier,

American Bantam's prototype (called the 'Blitz Buggy' or 'Pilot') was pretty close to what the Army wanted, but they knew little American Bantam wouldn't have the resources to produce as many Jeeps as would be needed. So, The Army invited Ford and Willys to come check out the Bantam prototype and then make versions of their own.

Willys delivered the Willys Quad, and Ford came up with the Pygmy. Both were very similar (since most of the key design elements they'd cribbed from Bantam's prototype, anyway) but in the end, the Willys basic design was chosen, in no small part thanks to their robust drivetrain and their excellent (and, at 60HP, the most powerful) Go-Devil engine.
Still, both Ford and Willys were given contracts to build the new General Purpose vehicles (GPs, or, Jeeps) since it was clear the US would need a hell of a lot of them and we'd need Ford's vast manufacturing capabilities. 
Really, all three cars/companies got the go-ahead in 1940, but the realities of the vast amount of production needed and the standardization required led to a hybrid vehicle based on the Willys MA (a development of the original Quad proto), but with Ford (and, to a lesser extent, Bantam's) details and designs mixed in.Willys retained the license to the basic design, and licensed it to Ford for production (that's what the 'W' in Ford GPW stands for).
After the war, when Willys had the rights to build civilian Jeeps, they wanted to trademark their now well-known Jeep face. In order to do this, they had to change it from the Ford-designed version with its 9-slot grille to the 7-slot version we still know today. But that's the only change they made, and, really that fundamental design is still Ford's, clearly based on the design of their Pygmy prototype.
What makes this so ironic is that Jeep is a fierce protector of their front end design, and while there are Jeep licensees who have been building Jeep-faced vehicles for decades, like the Mahindra Thar, other companies have been prevented from making vehicles that look anything like the iconic Jeep.
The word 'Jeep’ is said to come from the initials GP, standing for general purpose, influenced by 'Eugene the Jeep’, a creature of great resourcefulness and power represented in the Popeye comic strip. Many explanations of the origin of the word jeep have proven difficult to verify. 

The most widely held theory is that the military designation GP (for Government Purposes or General Purpose) was morphed into the word Jeep. Joe Frazer, Willys-Overland President from 1939 to 1944, claimed to have coined the word Jeep by slurring the initials GP.

Major Herbert Lawes, who had driven just about every army vehicle in existence, was the first driver to test the Jeep. After racing up a 60-degree slop in second gear with no problem, Major Lawes then set about on a 15 minute thrashing over some of the toughest terrain in the area. When he returned he stated, "I believe this unit will make history".

After World War II, Mahindra and Mahindra co-founder K C Mahindra went to the United States in his capacity as head of the Indian Supply Mission. He happened to meet Barney Roos, who had invented the Jeep, and became fascinated with this new vehicle design.
 Realising that the Jeep would be a perfect vehicle with which to navigate India's unpaved roads and rugged backcountry areas, Mahindra and his business partner brother J C Mahindra won the bid contract from Willys and began assembling Jeeps in India.
In 1974, Mahindra introduced the B275 (2350CC 38BHP 12Kgm@1,400rpm) International Harvester Co tractor engine on the CJ4A and called it the CJ500D. The CJ500D has been the mainstay of most government fleets.
By 1986, Mahindra designed the MM540 series which were essentially a CJ5 with the Peugeot XDP 4.90 engine. The Indian Army used the Mahindra CJ3Bs and Nissan Patrol P60 (known as Jonga) till the late 1980s. 

Mahindra’s 'CJ Army Model’ based on the CJ-3B was ironic, since Willys originally chose the 'CJ’ acronym to represent 'Civilian Jeep’.

Military-specification Jeeps include the 'Rakshak’, a bulletproof vehicle with ballistic protection designed by the Israeli company Plasan Sasa. It was described as "effective aid in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations as well as on the battlefield”.
During the 1990s, the army phased out CJ-3B and Jongas, and opted for MM550s which had a XD3P engine and KMT90 Gearbox.   

            In 1999  Mahindra and Mahindra introduced a 2650cc, 59 bhp engine on the CJ500D and called it the CL500 & CL550. The engine was extremely torquey and was able to give better road speeds. Off road this Jeep was extremely powerful.

In 2004 a better engine with 2650cc, 68 bhp 18Kgm@2000rpm was introduced on the CL550 known as the 'Mahindra Major'.    

On 4th Oct 2010, to fill the space left behind by its ancestor the MM540, Mahindra and Mahindra introduced the 'Thar'.                                          

**Next post**:      Chapter 4 - 'The Thar is born'