10 Reasons to Leave Your Car at Home

World Class Traffic Jam
Image by joiseyshowaavia Flickr

It may be strange to see this post on a car enthusiasts blog where you would expect to see me post only about driving and cars .  Sorry to surprise you in this way but I think sometimes it is wiser to leave your own vehicle at home and look at alternatives in the following 10 scenarios (relevant to any city in India):

  1. Political processions/protests/meetings/bandhs are planned for the day (You may be better off taking a two wheeler if you have to travel.)
  2. There is civic unrest and riots/fighting on the roads(staying home is the best option)
  3. There is heavy rain & flooding on the roads(if it is really bad you may want to stay home as buses may stop plying and rail tracks maybe under water- you can forget going to work)
  4. Roads are severely damaged after rains/floods/riots
  5. Massive roadwork is being done such as conversion of a regular road into an expressway
    Chennai prayed too hard.... Part III
    Image by Pandiyan via Flickr

  6. You are unwell or are recovering from an accident or illness and cannot take the strain of driving.
  7. You have very regular work timings and alternatives(cheaper and greener like the company bus/suburban trains/car pools) are available
  8. Your vehicle is not reliable because it is an older model & has problems needing repairs. (Get it fixed quick.)
  9. You are under a lot of stress and tension due to either a birth/ death /illness/ marriage/fight with spouse or event prep/work/business reason.
  10. You haven’t had sufficient sleep(less than 2 hours of sleep) the night before.

What are the alternatives ? Take public transport or take a cab with a driver if you absolutely must travel. Keep your “precious” car safe at home. You may need to spend more on that one days travel but you have the peace of mind of not damaging your car or exherting undue strain on yourself by driving in such conditions.

Related: Was just about to publish this when I saw another good post show up in my Google Reader on Driving With the Right Attitude on the Indian Autos Blog as part of their weekly advice column. Do check it out.

For a perspective on what all can happen when you leave your car at home check out: Is your car safe – even at home ?

A question for readers of Zimbly Cars:  Do you agree with this post or do you have other thoughts ? Please do let me know through comments.

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Hilarious Fast & Furious “Fail”

Failing Fast & Furious
(Click on the image to see a larger version)

The latest “Fast & Furious” seems to have done a lot of things right and has made its mark on the world box office with the largest April opening revenue of USD 72.5 million in its first weekend.  I was not able to make it to the local Chennai Team-BHP “Fast & Furious” meet on April 11th and was looking up the website for details of the movie when I noticed the home page.

Vin Diesel is begining to look good to me(oh gawd what did I just say!) while Michelle Rodrigues has lost all her hair and has a gaunt expression (looks like she has been working out with weights too much) – I cannot recognize these two at all now. Very sad to see what happens to actors between movies. (Joking !).

This was on the website as of today April 24th 2009. Check it out. Let me know when it is changed if at all it is.

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Future Collectible Cars of India



I read a recent article on Popular mechanics “Jay Leno Predicts Future Collectible and Classic Cars”.  I had to create a similar one based on cars available in India.  

Long Post Warning: This is another long post ( I do have to learn to write shorter ones soon).

The vehicles  I have listed match one or more of these criteria:

  • Vehicles sold in India to the mass market not imported vehicles
  • Car of the Year awarded  (typically packed with features and are usually popular).
  • Have some “first” attributed to them or some other unique characteristic, unusual engines or features or designs. Highest trim level versions are usual suspects since they have new features ahead of their time. (For e.g the Swift ZXI was the first Indian hatchback with steering mounted audio controls and climate control and airbags.)
  • Special editions / signature editions.
  • The first models  or the last models  of a car/brand.
  • 4x4s, convertibles and coupes and higher engine powered variants. 
  • Shouldn’t cost more than 15 Lakhs (ex showroom) when new.
  • Sold between 1975 till today April 20th 2009. Why 1975 ? Because that’s the year I was born. Simple ? :-).

In the order of Manufacturer/Brand I predict that in the year 2034  (25 years from now) these cars will be considered as collectible antique cars:


  • The 2002 Fiat Palio 1.6 Sport (Car of the year for 2002). The S10 is collectible just for the signature.
  • The Palio Adventure for being a  station wagon with go anywhere looks. Unfortunately was not a 4×4.
  • The 500 just made my list at 14.8 lakhs
  • Upcoming: I predict the Grande Punto to be a collectible just for its looks. Hope it has an engine to match.

Force Motors:

  • The Trax , Judo and the Ghurka all in 4×4 versions.


  • The Escort 1.6 and the Orion and Iris special editions – these are rare already you cannot find cars in good condition anymore.
  • The 1999 Ford Ikon 1.6 SXI with ROCAM engine a popular enthusiasts car giving good performance for a reasonable price. 
  • The Fiesta Diesel from 2006 for having the best diesel engine from Ford. BSM Jury Award 2006. Fiesta special editions with weird stripes as well since just a few in number were released. 

General Motors/Chevrolet:

  • The Aveo U-VA. BSM Car of the year 2007. The only reason this can be a collectible is that very few actually sold.
  • The Chevvy Spark(Daewoo Matiz reborn): Best Value award for 2008. Plus it looks really good for an Indian Chevy.
  • Optra SRV:  Sporty hatchback. Very poor sales makes this a collectible.
  • Upcoming: Chevy Beat & Cruze both look good and could become really popular


Long Term Hyundai Getz GLS Review (4 yrs)

We recently completed the 4 year anniversary  of getting the Hyundai Getz GLS as of March 25th.  It has covered around 20 thousand kilometers till now. The mileage has been low since it is my father that drives it during the week and I drive it during the weekends.  Took me some time to write up this review – it is a long long one so I apologize in advance. Plus I can say you have been warned.

Why & how we chose the car: In 2005 we were looking for a replacement to the 9 year old Maruti 800 and we wanted a  bigger car.  At that point we had the Ford Ikon as well so we didnt need another sedan. The 800 was used for all errands and trips to places with bad parking while the Ikon was used only when going out to places with good parking and to Church etc. The primary driver was to be my Father so the primary requirement was something easy to drive and easy to park.

Features available was also a criteria. Having been spoilt with the Ikon I wanted power windows, central & remote locking. With the Ikon’s rear glass fogging up frequently I was adamant about wanting  the rear wash/wipe and defogger.  We started the process late February 2005. The decision was made for a hatchback and the budget initially set at around 4.3 L. A quick look around showed the choices with the features we wanted as the Santro and the Wagon-R. I was not planning on even trying the Indica, the Corsa Sail or the Palio which were also available at the time for various reasons.

Wagon-R blues: We went to Maruti and wanted to see the Wagon-R.  The dealership we first visited didn’t have a demo car at their dealership when we went in so had to wait for them to bring one to us.  One silver one was brought home and I test drove it and found to my horror that its speedometer was disconnected. Decided then and there that I am not buying from that dealership at all. 


Top Car Chase & Race Movies (with free pdf)

Eleanor the star of Gone in Sixty Seconds

Car themed movies are my favourite type. I have extended it into movies with really good car chase scenes. I have been carrying a list of around 60 movies to add to my existing collection for the past 2 years and adding them slowly one at a time when I find them. These are Hollywood movies in English and range from 1900 till 2009. I still have not built up a non-English collection (just noticed that there seems to be a good number of Japanese and French movies that fit the car theme). This weekend, I delved a bit deeper into the data of movies available and tried grouping them into categories and also sorted them by year. In the process my list of 60 suddenly became 135. I have added this list as a free pdf download. As of now, I own around 30 movies that I call car themed movies. If you have to ask who Eleanor, Bumblebee, Herbie, The Judge and General Lee are you should probably stop here and decide if you want to read the remaining.

The current decade (2000’s) seems to have the maximum number of car themed movies  and movies with car chases occupying key parts of the storyline.The next closest decade was the 70’s. We are indeed in car-crazy times :-). The 80’s and 90’s didnt seem to be that into cars, did they ?

The movies can be grouped into racing movies(including all forms of racing like NASCAR,Champ car, Drag strip, street racing, illegal racing), chase movies (car chases and crashes), Bio-pics(about famous racing legends), Horror , Drama (deeper story around car theme) and also finally about driving( typically high speed driving, stunts, long distance, getaways). Chases in movies comprise close to 35% of movies on my list and Race themed movies comprise 46% of the list. Interestingly the percentage of movies having critically acclaimed chase scenes in the 70s was around 18% and race themed movies at 76%.In the last 9 years the ratio is 57% chase scenes and 28% on race themed. The ratio has turned 180 degrees around in 30 years !

The earliest car themed movie I could find was the 1913 movie –Speed Kings, based on automobile racing. If there is anything earlier than that please let me know. There was a movie called Speed in 1935 that was also based on auto racing which was pretty popular then.

All time popular cars and movies they appeared in:

  • The Bond movie Goldfinger (1964) was the first movie the Ford Mustang appeared in (it was launched in 1964 as well). Also this was the first movie the Bond car was set as the Aston Martin DB5. The same car now owned by Spielberg appears in 2002 movie Catch Me If You Can.
  • The Herbie Series is probably the most loved series with the VW Beetle Show up in 5 movies from 1968 till 2005.
  • The DeLorean in the Back to the Future series shows up in 3 movies from 19855 to 1990.
  • The Mustang Fastback “Eleanor” shows up in two movies of the same name Gone in Sixty Seconds from 1974 & 2000. The second GISS movie seems to be the first of many car themed movies that were released after 2000.
  • Ford Mustang:  Bullit(1986),Gone in 60 Seconds(1974),Gone in 60 Seconds(2000),Fast & Furious Tokyo Drift(2006), I Am Legend( 2007), Death Race (2008)
  • Mini Cooper: Italian Job(1969),Italian Job(2001) & Bourne Identity(2002).
  • Ford Gran Torino: Charlies Angels : Fullthrottle (2004) , Starsky & Hutch (2004) and Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino (2009), Fast and Furious (2009) has a 1972 Gran Torino Sport.
  • Pontiac GTO:  Two Lane Blacktop(1971),Bullit(1986), XXX(2002). The Last Ride(2004) a TV movie featured the GTO “Judge” and also had the latest iteration of the Pontiac GTO.
  • Chevrolet Corvette: 1970 Corvetter in Death Race 2000(1973), 1973 Stingray in Corvette Summer (1978)
  • Chevrolet Camaro:  Transformers (2007) had the 1977 and 2009 Camaros, 2 Fast 2 Furious(2003) had a 1969 Camaro, 2009 Fast and Furious has a 1973 Camaro.
  • Dodge Charger: Dirty Mary Crazy Larry(1974),The Fast and the Furious (2001),Dukes of Hazzard(2005) – “The General Lee”
  •  Dodge Challenger: Vanishing Point(1971), 2 Fast 2 Furious(2003)
  • Scary Cars: Modified 1971 Lincoln Continental in The Car(1977), 1958 Plymouth Fury in Christine(1983) , 1954 Buick Roadmaster in From a Buick 8(Upcoming movie for 2009). 
  • Upcoming Car Themed movies for 2009 and beyond are:
    • From a Buick 8 ( Horror movie based on a scarily good Stephen King book expected in 2009)
    • Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen (The transformers sequel expected around June 2009)
    • Cars II (The sequel to Pixar Cars expected in 2012)
    • The Limit( A movie on Grand Prix racing with Toby Maguire expected in 2012)

    (Do check up on www.carsplusmovies.com for more updates. Its a great site with tonnes of car movie related links. I got the above list from there.)

    Download: You can download my list of movies as a free PDF file download. Do take a look and let me know if you come across any good car themed movie I may have missed from the list. Also do pass on the pdf to your friends who may be interested.



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Tata Xenon Copy Editing Fail

I went to the Tata Xenon Site today after seeing an ad on one of the automotive websites I frequent. I was just telling someone that the Xenon would be a hell of a sight with a roll bar, wide tires and whole bank of heavy duty rally type lamps on the roof and of course a high lift kit – just the thing scare a lot of cabbies/autos/bikers out of the way :-).  However looking at the site I may have to revise my opinion of the vehicle of being an “All Terrain  Conqueror” – the copy makes me think it is not a conqueror but a conquest. Click on the image to see the “fail”.

Tata Xenon Copy Editing Fail
Tata Xenon Copy Editing Fail


Dear Tata Motors,

       I tried to contact you with this but this resulted in another page that didnt work – another “fail”. Here is a screenshot of my attempt (I blanked out my email). FYI – The submit button doesnt show up on your site. Finally I still filled out a lot of info I didnt want to and then submitted. Hope someone reads it. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Tata Xenon Fail 2
Tata Xenon Fail 2




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Can I add this modification to my car?

Hyundai Coupe/Tiburon with body kit at Ceylinc...
Image via Wikipedia

A common question and dilemma a lot of prospective vehicle owners have are around what modifications they can perform to their vehicle and what are best purchased as factory installed options. This post attempts to guide such buyers through that decision.

Modifications that cannot/should not be done after purchase of a new vehicle without considerable effort & cost and putting your warranty in question and having to deal with questionable quality: 


Chick Magnet
Image by icathing via Flickr
Image by joes2005via Flickr

(Please do think many times before you go down this path. Your/your parents’ hard earned money may make you the laughing stock of the world).

Thumb rule: If your rear  spoiler is more than a few inches taller than boot/roof and looks like clothes can be dried on it and still does not have anywhere near as much horsepower as a spaceship:  YOU ARE OVER DOING IT. You have enough warning from all websites ridiculing “show but no go” / “rice rockets” .