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The car that was to be built instead of Maruti Suzuki 800

We’ve come across times in our lives when we only recognize the successes. We forget that there were others who were striving for the same success but failed to be recognized even as a contender. Here is the story of Lloyd LP250. But, before that let’s talk about the most iconic and the first people car in India – Maruti Suzuki 800. Maruti Suzuki 800 catered to the new and upcoming middle class in India.

The difference between the rich and the poor was bridged. From the time it was introduced back in 1983, till the time it was in production, the sales never stopped. Maruti maintained its prime USP, the look and shape of the car throughout its lifecycle. However, there was another car in the running which was anticipated as the first family car in India – Lloyd LP250.

Llyod LP250

Meet the Lloyd LP250, the car that was to be built in place of the Maruti 800

The LP250 was the stark opposite of what Maruti offered. Originally developed in Germany, the manufacturers assumed it would solve the business case in the Indian market as well. For starters, the Lloyd LP250 was a two-door car that was 3.4 meters in length. To give you a clearer context, the Maruti Suzuki Alto measures around 3.5 meters.

The LP250 was based on the LP400 which was a four-seater car. The LP400 was manufactured almost 30 years before Maruti Suzuki 800 was introduced in the Indian market. It came with a two-stroke, parallel-twin engine which was air-cooled. The 250cc engine could churn a maximum of 11 Bhp and mated to a three-speed manual gearbox. The technology on which this car was built seems vintage compared to what is offered in today’s market. This is a testament to how far the automotive industry has travelled in just five decades.

Since the target audience for the LP250 was the upcoming middle class, the main aim of the manufacturers was to make it affordable while fulfilling the basic purpose of a small family or a young couple. It came with suicide doors which can now only be seen in Rolls Royce. Suicide doors basically open much wider than regular front-hinged doors, which makes it far easier for the occupant to get in and out of the car.

Meet the Lloyd LP250, the car that was to be built in place of the Maruti 800

Required no driving license to drive

The LP250 weighed 500kgs which was 150 kgs more than the original Maruti 800. Coming to the price point, since the prime focus was to make the car affordable, it was priced at 3000 Deutsche Marks in Germany which converted in Indian rupees is about INR 1.3 Lakhs.

Since the target audience was set to cater to an age bracket of the young, primarily people who were more inclined to buy a two-wheeler, the LP250 did not require the driver to have a license to drive. As we know, it didn’t even come close to the Maruti Suzuki 800 and failed miserably. Only a few units made it to India. Amongst those, three units were shipped by politician Sanjay Gandhi, purely for research and development purposes. It was put to test under Indian road and weather conditions. However, the R&D project was shelved midway.

If you wish to see this iconic car, which was all set to give a fight to the mighty Maruti Suzuki 800, it is parked at the Gee Car Museum in Coimbatore. The third LP250 ordered by Gandhi was auctioned by the State Trading Corporation and was bought by the president of the World Tamil Congress, Janardhanam. The last LP250 in India is owned and restored by GD Gopal. Lloyd only made about 4000 units of LP250.

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