The Maruti 800 has changed the way India looks at cars. The historic year of 1983 saw the launch of the first modern four-door hatchback in India. The car lived as an undisputed market leader throughout its life but was then forced out of the market by Maruti itself. Yes, it’s crazy but true. Here are some more such few crazy facts that we bet you did not know about the India’s favourite hatchback.
Retailed for under Rs. 50,000
When launched in 1983, the car retailed at Rs. 48,000 only. The demand was so much that customers were willing to shell out more than Rs. 1 lakh for the car. Maruti 800 became a hot-seller at that time, the alternatives were far more expensive and lacked the convenience of a small car.
The only car whose top speed exceeded the speedo marking
Often we try to touch the top speed mentioned in the speedometer console of our cars and fail to do that. The Maruti 800 could go past the mentioned top speed of 140 km/h on the console. This insane feat was achieved only by the limited edition – Maruti 800 5-speed. This edition of Maruti 800 could do a top speed of 144 km/h.
The first buyer of Maruti 800 never upgraded
The first owner of Maruti 800 in India – Mr Harpal Singh received the keys of the car from then prime minister of India – Indira Gandhi on December 14, 1983. Mr Harpal owned the car for nearly 27 years. He did not sell the Maruti 800 either did he upgrade to a new car. He passed away in 2010 and the car still belongs to the family.
3 lakh people have died in Maruti 800s
Recent data released by Dr Kamal Soi, a member of National Road Safety Council of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways based on FIRs, paints a chilling picture of the car. The FIRs in National Crime Records Bureau have revealed that over 3 lakh people lost their lives in the accidents involving Maruti 800.
Most stolen car in Pakistan
The Maruti 800 is the most stolen car in Pakistan according to a statement released by Karachi’s Anti-car lifting cell unit. The 800 is known as Suzuki Mehran in Pakistan and is loved by thieves. White coloured cars are the worst affected, said the unit.
Was first mooted in the 1950s, but took 3 decades to be productionized
It was late 1959 when the idea of cheap small cars was floated by Manubhai Shah, a Union minister in Nehru’s cabinet. The concept was then overtaken by a committee headed by L.K. Jha but it did not materialise till the 1980s. That is a long time for bringing the small car into the Indian market.
First-ever front wheel drive car in India
The car was launched during the reign of Hindustan Contessa, Ambassador and Premier Padmini. All the cars were bulky with rear wheel drive set-up. The Maruti 800 became the first car in India to be offered with a front-wheel-drive configuration that reduced the weight and the cost of the car considerably.
Maruti 800 was forced out of the market
In the year 2000, Maruti launched the Alto that eventually replaced the 800 in India. The Alto was launched as a bigger and stylish alternative to the 800. Even the launch of Alto could not dislodge the 800 from the top spot of sales.
Maruti plonked the 796cc, 12-valve engine of the Alto in the Maruti 800 that was mated to 5-speed gearbox and produced a maximum of 45 Bhp. The lightweight car with the new engine could go past 140 km/h and became a super hit in the market.
Seeing the popularity, Maruti was forced to put the old 2 valves per cylinder engine and the 4-speed gearbox back in the 800.
The stricter BS-IV norms were introduced in the top cities and metros of India stopping the sale of the 800 in these cities. Eventually, the production of 800 was stopped in February 2014.
Well maintained examples sell for BIG money
The Maruti 800 holds a lot of heritage and history. If the car is maintained in running conditions, it could fetch close to Rs. 2 lakh in the current market. Even the first generation models that had a sticker price of below Rs. 50,000 can fetch such value in the market. This car does not know what depreciation is.
Was the first car of many celebrities
Many celebrities chose the icon before it became an icon. The Maruti 800 became the first car of Master Blaster – Sachin Tendulkar, who wanted to buy the car in 1983 itself but could not do that because of funds. Sachin saved money for few years and gathered enough to buy the car. The blue Maruti 800 is still parked in Sachin’s garage.
Another notable celebrity to buy the Maruti 800 is Shah Rukh Khan. He bought the car in Delhi and drove it down to Mumbai.