In an era when buying a car was a privilege for the select few, owning a Maruti 1000 was so elusive that owners often came under the lens of the Income Tax Department. The 1000 was perhaps India’s first modern and reliable sedan that spawned the popular Esteem which went on to dominate Indian roads for the next decade or so.
Call it the lack of options in the market or the non-existence of aggressive marketing in the pre-liberalisation days, the car had a simple name which denoted its engine size, the “1000”. Heck, there was no badge on the car which denoted that name. In fact, some of the earlier models didn’t have any emblem or badging on the hood or the front grill.
The featured example is a single owner 1992 Maruti 1000. Almost everything on the car is untouched. It is a time capsule of the Indian automotive scene of the early 1990s. After serving its family for over 15 years in and around Mumbai, the car is living a peaceful retired life in the family’s Pune home.
The 1000 got eventually replaced by the more powerful 1.3L Esteem but the 1000 continues to be an important milestone in India’s journey towards modern motoring. Since a lot of cars have since then been “converted” to look like later model Esteems or retrofitted with CNG & LPG kits, it is really difficult to estimate how many of these actually remain on our roads today. Nonetheless, let’s hope more such beautiful cars resurface in the near future.