If we look back at the history of the Indian Automotive scene, we can find that only a handful of cars or SUVs for that matter are close to our hearts. So much so that they become a part of our society and are hard to let go of or get rid of. Some even have a cult following in India. Cars like the Hindustan Ambassador, the Fiat Padmini, the Maruti Omni, the Maruti 800 – despite how rudimentary they were, were the ones that re-wrote the car scape in India. If these cars were at the frontline of the war, there are some whom we call undercover agents – ones that are rarely seen or spoken about. They are rarely celebrated, yet are essential in diplomacy and to winning the war. Case in point, The King – The only car or rather should I say, the SUV that is righteous for the title “The Mountain Goat”. Oh Yeah, It is the Maruti Gypsy that we are speaking about!
Old is New
The Gypsy started its life as a long-wheelbase version of the Suzuki Jimny SJ410 series and reached the Indian shores during 1985. Rugged and reliable – the two words that would properly describe a Gypsy. It was rudimentary when it came to India in 1985 and it remained so until Maruti had to pull the plug back in 2019. This was just one amongst the reasons that the Gypsy was loved for and has a cult following. There was no AC, meaning you had to sweat it out while driving in summer. The Gypsy had no power steering either – you need to bust your arms trying to turn the Gypsy.
“I would say that it was way better designed than any other SUVs of that time and has aged perfectly, or rather not aged at all“
Forget about taking U-turns in crowded streets or moving around in the parking lot. Heck, you didn’t even get floor mats at the rear. And the suspension? Less said the better. It had leaf springs on all the four ends and even on smoothest of the tarmac you could find, you’d still be bumping around and every undulation on the road would be communicated to your spine in a rather cruel way. To put it simply, the Gypsy was barebones and utilitarian in nature and certainly not the family SUV you would be looking to buy. These are the exact reasons why the sales were never off the charts and also why it was loved by a certain creed who swear by the Gypsy- The armed forces, hardcore off-roaders, the rally community, and pure enthusiasts. It was Rugged, reliable, had the go-anywhere ability and it hardly ever broke down and if ever did break down, was easy to mend and get going.
“It is not just any SUV, its a Gypsy way of life”
Changes and upgrades? No Thanks!
Cosmetically, the Gypsy remained almost the same throughout its entire lifespan, save for the new grille, the small hump on the bonnet, and the wide wheel fenders in later stages of its life (the latter two came with the King – The MG413W). I would say that the Gypsy was way better designed than any other SUVs of that time and has aged perfectly, or rather not aged at all. It is as if the designers had nothing more than a scale and a pencil to draw it out – yet, the boxy SUV has stood the test of the time and still turns heads wherever it goes. Simple, yet breathtaking, classy and cult.
If there is one SUV that I would fall head over heels any time, it is the Gypsy. Over its lifetime, the Gypsy received some mechanical changes which kind of ‘improved’ the drivability. First off, the old 970 CC F10A engine paved the way to a 1300CC G13B carburetted engine, which would later be replaced by the 1300CC G13BB MPFI engine. The first models had a 4-speed gearbox and later was replaced by a 5-speed box with the 1.3L engine finding its place in the engine bay. The first model was codenamed MG410, and later with the track being widened by 90mm to prevent susceptible rollover, was codenamed The MG410W. The King, as the last iteration was called, was codenamed MG413W. (Maruti Gypsy, 4CYL 1.3L engine, Widetrack).
“The King might have gone into the sunset,
but the legacy it has left behind will live on forever”
Why The King?
I was almost about to buy a brand new Gypsy back in 2017 while it still was available, but the balance sheet wouldn’t allow me to have one. I could only wish that I had taken the plunge while I still could have. You could still buy a used one, but finding one in a good condition is a Herculean task. Then, there are army auctions, again finding a good lot is almost rare as spotting a unicorn. If you manage to find one then, comes the cost of running. While the Gypsy might go anywhere we want it to, it drinks a lot and boy I mean it. If you are able to get a double-digit fuel economy, you deserve a standing ovation. That being said, despite all the odds the Gypsy had against it, it was and still is loved by many.
The King might have gone out of production, but still, the army relies on this very machine to reach the remote borders of our Nation, despite having the Safari Storme. Folks at the Rally community still tune the hearts out of this machine to take on the difficult terrain. Folks like me or rather Folks like us, still drool at the Gypsy and find it hard to pick the jaws off the floor every time we see it. The King might have gone into the sunset, but the legacy will live on forever. All, Hail The King!
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