Believes life is one long learning...

Vinay Kamath

A requiem for the M 800? Not yet!

| Updated on March 02, 2014


Reams are being churned out and much nostalgia expressed on the ‘retirement’ of the Maruti 800. I’m not part of the generation whose first car was an M 800. Sure, it was very much a part of our growing up years in the ’80s and even though the Ambassadors and the Premier Padminis were larger cars with boot space, having a smaller but nippier M 800 gave one an elevated status. And, how well you did up your 800 added sheen to that status.

A whole M 800 accessories business also sprung up as this small car fired everyone’s imagination. Velvety seat covers, garish steering wheel covers, all kinds of stuff to put on your dashboard — from gods and goddesses to fake objets d’art — rubber mats, outlandish stickers to put on the doors…it was a gush of colourful expression after years of a closed economy and driving stodgy cars.

My first car was a second-hand (or, may be third-hand, I forget now!) Premier Padmini. A robust car but with none of the trappings or creature comforts that an M 800 offered. It had no air-conditioning and I had a small fan fitted on the dashboard to blow hot air on my face to dry the beads of perspiration on my forehead on a hot and sweaty Chennai afternoon. Parts were cheap and roadside mechanics could fix the car easily.

I later moved on to other cars, a Santro, Alto, an i10…but it was only a couple of years ago that we bought a second-hand M 800. The wife learnt and honed her driving skills on the Santro but after some rigorous driving lessons, declared it was too large for her and wanted an even smaller car. And, she was fed up dealing with the Chennai autokarans.

So, now the M 800 is zipping all over, ferrying kids to various classes and back, grocery buying and other shopping expeditions happen and the wife declares she has a strong sense of liberation with her M 800. Taking it to work, when she gets some parking, it effortlessly slips in between some of those large beasts that trundle on our roads.

I drive it too, often, and boy, does the car zip. It’s so light it doesn’t need a power steering and you often think you’re in one of those dinky toy cars at a fair. The car’s robust, great mileage, parts are comparatively inexpensive and M800 mechanics still abound.

While the kids turn their noses up at the M 800, the wife says she won’t part with it till it serves us well. And, it looks like it will be for some time to come. So, who’s writing a requiem for the M800? Not me.

Published on February 28, 2014

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