A rare Tata 407 4×4 | 1300 km road trip02/01/2021
Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever, there should be some spice once in a while with driving and you never knew how it would come.
funkykar recently shared this with other BHPians.
The love for driving is eternal. True driving enthusiasts would love to drive anything with a motor and 4 wheels. I have owned several different cars, scooters and bikes all my life. The number is so staggering most would be in disbelief. My mind is pretty crazy, I myself cannot describe. Right from a column shift Padmini, Ambassador to a floor shift Padmini, Ambassador, Tata Safari, Maruti 800, host of new-age Fiats, owned 3 or more of them at any point in time. I have grown up hearing people say ‘Learn to drive an Ambassador, you can drive any vehicle’. I honestly did not understand why they said that. I learnt and drove Maruti 800 as my first car in 2003. We weren’t a car family, hence had to go to a driving school to learn. Some of the old-timers, including my dad, asked me to choose an Ambassador. The driving school fellows just laughed at my request. Even for them, who choose cheap cars, Ambassador was already history and I learnt on a Maruti 800. After learning to drive, I got very good friends company who gave a lot of gyaan and learnt some good driving manners. However, the experience with Maruti 800 was so boring, I learnt nothing about the car as it wasn’t necessary. By end of ownership, I could identify what was a battery and where to fill wiper fluid. Period.
Then came a 118NE in my life, followed by a barrage of Padminis and later on a few Ambassadors. This is when a need to learn and understand car mechanicals came. It was such a welcome change and a loving experience. I would spend hours and hours with my erstwhile mechanic to understand how stuff worked. Each car gave me a lot of learning. From 0, my knowledge became quite something (I don’t reckon myself as an expert). The most crude were the column shifters (requires a bit of learning and knack) of Ambassador, the floor shift of the Isuzu 2.0 Bench Seat model and briefly Tata Safari Dicor. The throw of floor shifts of Ambassador and Safari was so much that often one has to search all around if their subconscious mind doesn’t remember which gear the car was in.
Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever, there should be some spice once in a while with driving and you never knew how it would come, after all the year was 2020. In mid-December 2020, on a very lazy typically cold Bangalore weekend night, a friend who hails from Kerala, but has been in the UK since a long time messaged me an ad in OLX of a used 2009 Tata 407. He said it was quite rare and it had a 4×4. I was surprised to know about 4×4, at the same time was least bothered or interested in the 407 or to dig more information. Moreover, this was in Chikmagalur which is 250 km away from Bangalore. As my friend insisted me to find more info, reluctantly I messaged and asked for his number. Just to see if its genuine person, I clicked on the call button with only intention to see what name it flashes on Truecaller, and for some reason, my phone froze for a moment and it gave a missed call, I too hadn’t realised.
Next day morning, which happened to be a Sunday, I get a call at 06:10 hrs and was woken from a very deep sleep. Caller in Mangalore Kannada accent talks to me. I kept saying wrong number and he kept calling me back. I put the phone to silent and went to sleep again. Later in the evening, I recalled about the call early morning, and after seeing the caller list, I realised it had come from the same number I had given missed call to the previous night.
Since he had called several times, I felt sorry and called him back. He spoke very nicely and explained about the 407 very well. Right from its history with his earlier employer who owned it, how and when he purchased etc. He did confirm it was the 4×4 and wasn’t an incorrect auto-populated listing in OLX. Suddenly out of nowhere, it became interesting. I promptly relayed back all the info including the expected price to my friend. I thought my job was over. The curiosity in my friend would die down and we are done.
However, he replies immediately and here goes the conversation:
Friend: ‘What next? How do we go about this’.
Me: What ‘What next?’, send someone from your town and have them check it out.
Friend: I dont have anyone who could do such a thing. Do you have any friends who owns a 407 in their farm or anything?
Me: No. I don’t know anyone of that sort. Even if I do, how can they helps us? The vehicle is 250 km away.
Friend: (He was quite disappointed and with some reluctance, he asked) why don’t you go and check it out?
Me: What? How can I check out? I don’t know a thing about these large vehicles. Moreover, this is a yellow board, used quite a bit. How on earth can I assess it?
Friend: I don’t know man. I feel you can do it. Somehow I know you can do it.
Me: Aaah, don’t try to hype me up. I will try my best to pay a visit. With the year-end and holidays approaching, my work is too busy, I cant take a day off and have to visit only during a weekend. I will let you know if possible.
Friend: (Follows up after 2 days promptly)
Me: You still serious about this mate? Ok. I seem to be free on Saturday the 19th. I am agreeing to this only because it was Chikmagalur and I wouldn’t mind driving down for the pleasure of driving.
Friend: Ok great. You see the vehicle and call me. Let’s see how it goes.
Just for sake of company, I asked Bhpian Arun1100. He said it wasn’t possible as he had some family commitments. He said if it was the next day he was very very interested. I had some family commitments the next day and I couldn’t. I did not want to postpone this and somehow wanted to get done with.
I asked ex-bhpian Greenday, he too couldn’t as he was in Mangalore already. Then I turned to my college buddy Girish Bhargav. Asked him to come over and set proper expectations that it was just to enjoy a drive and I would have some personal work for about an hour in Chikmagalur. He was happy to join as he was free on that day.
Read BHPian funkykar’s entire travelogue.
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