An affordable back-to-basics sports car that’s made entirely of Indian
car parts is every enthusiast’s dream. We take a drive in a prototype
to gauge its potential.
traction control, no ABS, no power steering, no power windows. No windows!
The Chinkara is the sporting motorcar unplugged. The motorcar in possibly
its purest form. Lithe, light and skinned for speed.
Based in principle on Colin Chapman’s immortal Lotus Seven, like all
manner of modern Caterhams and Westfields, it does away with any extraneous
mass or weight. The result, a high power-to-weight ratio that in theory
should deliver ample performance.
Starved of a decent sports car for decades, a back-to-basics sports car
like the Chinkara — which means Indian gazelle — has been what
enthusiasts around India have been waiting for.
uilt by marine boat builder Guido Bothe of Germany and his Indian wife Shama
in Alibaug near Mumbai, the Chinkara is fabricated entirely from parts found
on Indian cars. Guido, an avid enthusiast and once part-time racer, asked
an automobile engineer and friend, Michael Hahn who has worked with Audi
in Germany, for a basic design. A simple, easy-to-build tubular chassis
on which Indian-made suspension arms could be attached. Ground realities,
more specifically our roads, and the fact that Guido is German resulted
in a chassis that was built to twice the specification. Not wanting to compromise
on structural rigidity in the least, Guido replaced the specified two-inch
main chassis tubes on the tubular space-frame with three-inch ones.
Take a look at the massive exhaust pipe-like chassis tubes running out of
the rear of the car to get a better idea. The Chinkara as a result is nowhere
near as light as an everyday ‘Seven’ and in current form displaces
a less-than-featherweight 745kilograms — almost the weight of an Esteem!
Bothe does acknowledge the overkill and has plans to pare the weight down.
as the original Lotus Seven did, the Chinkara uses suspension parts of very
humble origin, more specifically the Maruti 800’s. The rear suspension
is also independent and is carried over from the 800 again — it’s
the front suspension flipped 180 degrees. Clever. The brakes, discs both
front and rear, are also plucked from India’s least expensive car.
Power under the long cigar-shaped bonnet comes from the 1.8-litre Isuzu
engine that is produced by Hindustan Motors (HM).
The Lotus design clues are clearly visible on the part-fibreglass part-aluminium
Chinkara. The basic cigar shape, large tyres, suspended mudguards, strut
tower-mounted headlights, rollover bar and the shallow rear with rear strut
towers sticking out are all very familiar. Guido’s experience in fibreglass
also means that the finish and fit are quite impressive.