dtandon

"The experience" - 15 day road trip in a President

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Here's some memories from my favorite road trip experience.

The year was 1999 - no cell phones to call for help in case of a breakdown, no GPS and my dad and his brother are planning a 15 day trip across India.

Why ?

The travel bug has struck again. A major infestation in both households thanks to the month long summer break.

The What/Where ?

Dad's at Lucknow and the choice of wheels is between a couple of Maruti hatches and a 1973 Premier President.

The winner - (as the title of the thread suggests) - is the President thanks to the fact that we plan to rough it out in the heat (who needs creature comforts like the Maruti's AC) - plus the President is immaculately maintained and it has a boot.

His brother is in the Air Force (then posted at) Barmer in Rajasthan - car's a Premier S1.

The Experience(s) -

Day 1 of the trip begins with us starting of from Lucknow in the President - the plan is to keep going pedal to the metal (dad's driving - I'm 16 and don't have a license) till we get to Jaipur. The distance is about 600 Km and we get there late at night. We make good time but the car suffers damage the exhaust - the president is sounding like it just got a roof mounted gattling gun! I check to make sure but find only luggage on the roof racks smiley1.gif. The weld at the engine end of the exhaust pipe (where it bolts on to the manifold) has torn loose. It had been welded recently - we later found that a weld at this spot almost never holds well - wake up half of Jaipur while driving thru - Its another 350 Km to our destination and we push on after a stop at a dhaba for dinner. We're in a big hurry to get to Barmer (no reason - I guess we couldn't wait to get to the Thar desert) and the thought of getting some sleep never enters my dad's head. The FREE flow exhaust ensures that there's to much noise for anyone to be able to doze off in the car.

Day 2 has dawned and we make it to Barmer late in the afternoon. The destination is a place called Uttarlai - close to the border. Half the air force is on high alert at the first sound of the invading President. The rest of the day is spent getting some rest (it was around 50 degrees outside). I remember cursing myself for not having reached Uttarlai earlier when my cousins (both younger) start boasting about their experiences at an off roading trip and moonlit barbecue in the dunes just a couple of nights ago.

More to come - I've just gotten started..

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The "Premier President" was the predecessor to the Premier Padmini.

Premier re-badged the earlier Fiat's and called the late 72 and 73 models - Premier President.

It was essentially the Fiat 1100 with some cosmetic changes, a new grill, side trim and a different instrument cluster.

Also, these were the last Premier's/Fiat 1100's to come with a "Made in Italy" Magneti Marelli distributor and ignition coil. dtandon2009-03-10 11:53:13

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That's the one - notice the different side trim and the round side indicators. But the front grill and the wheel caps on this one aren't original.

Thanks for finding a picture.

There's speculation that the name was changed because the government objected to the "President" bit of the name. I'm not sure - maybe Cyrus or some other Fiat enthusiast can answer that.

dtandon2009-03-10 12:04:47

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Good account Tandon, you could remember so vividly as you were 16 then. I had been on a few such trips but was too young to even remember correctly.

In 99, mobiles were there, I remember buying my 1st. mobile in 98!

Btw, we also owned a President back in the days, but I really do not remember much, was too small at that time.

On that exhaust note, I always liked those Fiat's afternotes & broken/rusted ones amazed me more, you know gave a sports car like feeling.

 

Waiting for more & pics. of your President.

 

Edit: Indeed it must have been a trip to remember for you! Yes, coverage was limited on mobiles then.

But so many breakdowns also must have been good adventure!
BornFree2009-03-10 12:31:48

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Good memories get better with time smiley1.gif

Back in '99 most places in India were "Out of coverage area" - especially the highways. So carrying a mobile wasn't all that helpful.

As for the exhaust note (for all practical purposes) ,we were running without the exhaust since it broke off right at the manifold.

Day 4 was us stuck in the middle of the desert with a bad fuel pump on the Premier Padmini S1 and - no network.

Thats for later.

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Day 3: The President is at the garage waiting for a new exhaust pipe to arrive. We wait and plan for the journey ahead. Have a barbecue planned in the desert for later that night - all's well as we can cram into the other Fiat (S1) and an IAF gypsy to get there.

Day 4: Had a great barbecue that lasted well into the night - slept in tents near a small pond - we had to get up early to spot the wildlife. Some great photography and then we're ready to get back to civilization.

Crank the S1 for a good 5 min but the engine won't catch - the gypsy hooks us up with a tow rope and we limp back to the base. Closer inspection reveals that the fuel pump has packed up. Not a problem in a big city - but here in means that we must wait for a spare to first be located at one of the bigger cities and then shipped to the Base.

Dad comes up with a rather unusual solution - takes about three hours at the workshop and we've "converted" the S1 to start and run off LPG. Fuel pump or no fuel pump - the journey must go on.

Without going into too much detail - all that needed to be done was to restrict the airflow to the engine (a metal disk blocking the air intake with an appropriate number of holes drilled into it) and feed LPG directly to the intake below the air-filter and the metal disk and a valve to regulate the LPG flow.

The "jugad" is working nicely as we do a few trial runs and adjust the ignition timing a bit for the LPG.

I'm not saying that I approved of the solution - but then - any port in the storm. Next stop - Ahmadabad.

Day 5 & 6: Got the fuel pump, ditched the LPG setup at a relatives place(the cylinders) and explored the city - the textile bazaar and the Gandhi Ashram are the only places I remember.

Had a rather un-eventful journey to Mumbai - nothing to write about.

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That was an ingenious solution. Didn't think it would have been that easy. Have to say not the most safest.

 

How I wish I could just get up and drive out to some far away place. Seriously the journey is far better than the destination.

 

FRG

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That was an ingenious solution. Didn't think it would have been that easy. Have to say not the most safest.

I remember having a heated argument with Dad about the safety aspect. The gas flow was regulated by a valve - that had to be tweaked (almost continuously) just like the accelerator pedal on a regular car. So - once the car was doing a steady speed' date=' we'd reduce the flow until the engine started to sputter - so no extra gas (we'd ensure that the engine was running lean). For overtaking/acceleration - the flow was increased again. Tough to drive but then - we did a 500 odd km's with it.

And gas wouldn't leak out of the intake because of the negative pressure as long as the engine was running. I do have the actual contraption in the storeroom somewhere at home. The entire modification was limited to the air filter assembly (oil bath type).

Seriously the journey is far better than the destination.

smiley1.gif Thats almost always true.dtandon2009-03-10 20:53:48

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What a Brilliant Thread! But, Let me Clarify in pictures to what a Premier PResident is. Crazy Cat, The car in the Picture is not a President. It is a Fiat 1100 Delite. And its wheel caps are most definately original. And VERY VERY rare.

 

The car Below, is a Premier President. And probably the BEST president i have ever known!!

Notice the Alluminium Grille, The Wheel caps, The wheel Trims and the brilliant ORIGINAL paint. This car is an absolute delight.

 

cimg6870.jpg

 

i5037.jpg

 

i5334.jpg

i9783.jpg


CYRUS432009-03-11 08:22:34

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Yes indeed - thats one gleaming president smiley1.gif

@Cyrus - Is the white one above really an 1100 Delite?I mistook the grill on it for the cheap plastic ones that came on Padmini's much later - also the wheel caps don't look right. Can you post pictures taken from up close ?

Also, please correct me if I'm wrong - I thought the Delite had a similar wheel cap design as the President (only difference was that the Delite wheel caps said FIAT and the President's said PAL - in similar lettering)

I president that I have in Punjab is the same color (and in almost as good condition). It just doesn't have the white wall tires anymore.

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Yes, that whitish one is Indded a Very Very Original 1100 Delite. That grille is a Chromodora Italiana Grille. Similar to the one on my Red Fiat. The original Delites had the Wheels,Wheel Caps and Bumpers from the Super Select, and then the last years came with the same President wheelcaps with FIAT on it.

 

Below is a picture of wheelcaps i found on a Taxi a few Days ago. These are original President Wheelcaps.

 

image00001srx.jpg

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The original Delites had the Wheels' date='Wheel Caps and Bumpers from the Super Select, and then the last years came with the same President wheelcaps with FIAT on it. [/quote']

Aah! The only Delites I've seen were with the President style wheel caps with "FIAT" on them. Thanks - that explains it.

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Brilliant. May be you can show us how it was made with a disclaimer ofcourse. smiley2.gif

FRG
20090311_185833_Untitled.jpg

I've tried to illustrate the two changes to the base of the air filter assembly.

The LPG was fed thru the tube that was welded into assembly (bottom right of the diagram in brown)

The valve to control the gas flow was mounted between the seat and the driver side door.

The correct amount of air was adjusted by masking /unmasking the holes on the disk with tape(red in the diagram).

Do not try this at home - LPG is a dangerous substance dtandon2009-03-11 19:07:24

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The ignition timing was advanced going by the ear - just by judging where the engine sounded the sweetest and accelerated best - it took several runs to judge that.

The system wasn't perfect and the car topped out at 85km/hr when running on LPG.

The air/fuel ratio in this case was adjusted on the fly

by turning the valve mounted besides the driver - made lean for cruising and richer when accelerating. It gave us an amazing 19-20Km per Kg of gas on the highway.

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Those were simple days weren't they? You just can't mess with cars from today which have become so complicated that you probably need an electronics degree to even understand how many things work.

 

Try something even close to this in the modern automobile and bye bye warranty and/or your car in extreme cases.

 

FRG
FuelRunGod2009-03-12 18:35:34

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Indeed - thats what makes these cars so interesting in todays context.

Its taught me so much about how/why automobiles have evolved in the last 50 years.

Though some things are still a puzzler - for one, I really don't understand why the world switched from timing chains to timing belts.

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