The Thought Process
The making of an off-roader
I came to know of this blog only recently and was earlier updating all my posts on TeamBHP. So quite a few of the initial posts will be just copy and paste from my thread on TeamBHP Harjeev’s MM 550 😄 – Army spec – Bought, with some occasional editing etc.
So here is the first post which was posted my me on 15th December 2008 and don’t fear as this the longest of all the posts to come.
I started to read on Team-BHP on Jeeps and I clearly remember that I saw the thread of Randeep and that he had found an Army 550 4×4. What ‘MM550’ what does that mean? I dint have the slightest idea, but I knew this much
“I want to own get myself a 4×4 and really liked the India Army version”.
At this point of time i had no idea about any of the technical mambo jumbo.
Diff locks, LSD’s, Gear Ratios etc etc etc. All this was rocket science or complex problems to me. This was, I think around the last week of November, 08, 25th of 26 to be exact. And from this day on I started to read on the forum TBhp.
I dint know anything and I headed to Mayapuri. I had been through this road countless times before, and passed countless times by Jeeps and what did I think, just another junkyard and just another vehicle. I couldn’t be more wrong. Anyways i reached Mayapuri at 11.am in the morning and the Market was just about opening. There were so many vehicles and i dint have a clue of what was on offer. I had PM’ed Randeep for the address from where he acquired his jeep and headed to that shop.
My 1st look at a Jeep
There were a couple of Army 4×4 there none in working condition but I had not a clue about anything. Talked to the guy a person of about 40ish. Do not remember the name. And can you believe it I didn’t even pop the hood, look at the underbody i dint even click a picture. Came back just like that. He quoted 85 K and I just asked him the price and whether it has a working 4×4. Man I tell you at that time I dint know how to tell whether a vehicle has a 4×4 or not. I used to check the lever from inside and see.
Next I surveyed the market came across another shop ‘Pali’. He quoted 80K and when i told him i wanted a clean piece he said 90 but a latest version, maybe 1999 or 2000. Somehow I dint develop that kind of a trust in Pali. Don’t know why. But the guy was not warm enough. Maybe there were too many lurkers like me coming to the market each day. I don’t know. The guy was too arrogant and snobbish compared to Padam.
Just roamed around and came back home all excited.
I thought that I just needed a 4×4 jeep give it to some mechanic and lo and behold Harjeev comes in his 4×4. I couldn’t be further from reality.
The next couple of days and even the week was spent on the internet reading asking questions etc.
During this time I came across a site Jeepthrills and Nothern India Off-Roading Club (NIOC).
In a day or two after this I came across an advt on an internet site about a MM540DP 4×2. This guy was in Karol Bagh and wanted to sell it. Was a dealer and on the phone quoted 90k. Though his advt said 110k. This was a 1998 model and had Peugeot 2.1 engine. The problem was this was only 62 BHP and my heart was set on an army disposal. But I got really exited on this too.
Next afternoon I visited Parvinder (Poddy’s) workshop. He is god sent to me, a person whom I can put blind trust and faith. Though we are related but now, to me he means much more than a friend and a guide. Here is the adventurous kind and has been modifying jeeps since he can remember.
On my visit I witnessed he was modifying a Mm540 DP to a Jeep Rubicon. I told him about my idea of owning an off-roader, that my usage will not be limited to OTR’s but to the hills, jungles, deserts, etc. He told me to go in for a Army 550 and then he would restore it completely. Also he said that he would work on a cost to cost basis with me.
At this point of time I had already seen a jeep in Karol Bagh and was happy if Poddy could restore it for me. Poddy always said that i should go for a 550.
The issue was the more the threads I read and people I talked to, my mind kept on changing.
Next day I had fixed to meet up with Pushkin Ahuja (NIOC) at Mayapuri.
Met him at Mayapuri around 12PM. I arrived a little earlier and I started to look around. Came across a dealer ‘Jeep House’ who had a 540 DP 4×4 in start condition. He quoted 110k for a 1996 model, Uttar Pradesh registered. It had new tyres(retreaded, I think) , hard top, new seats and was in start condition. ODO showed 95k kms. Took it for a test run. I told him to remove the tyres, seats, battery & hood. With all this removed he quoted 80K. Papers were complete. Original Mico FIP. But dint have discs, brake booster, army rims, etc involved a lot of mechnical work .
He had another CJ3B Delhi registered and was asking 50K for it. Original petrol engine. Saw a couple of more jeeps here & there.
Pushkin told me that this MM540 would require a work of about 40-50K and after that should be perfect. So I worked out the cost like this.
- Army rims 12-15k,
- Tyres 20-25k,
- Battery 5k,
- Mechanical overhaul 50k.
- Add another 25k for the 4×4 transfer case, free wheeling hubs, LSD’s, under body rust treatment, etc etc and the vehicle would cost me around 200k.
So 200k for a well restored vehicle, complete mechanical overhaul, not bad to think about.
Afterward me and Pushkin drove to Karol Bagh to see the other 550-DP. After test driving it he told me the vehicle is not worth the price of 85k. Dropped the idea.
From here I went to Mandeep’s and Jasvinders garage in Noida. They are all for petrol vehicles & I agree that petrol are easier to overhaul and maintain. I was there for a couple of hours and made up my mind to buy a CJ3B only. See how my mind changes so soon all of a sudden.
I dropped the idea of a diesel and started reading on a CJ3B. I liked the jeep. But my heart was still out for an Army spec 4×4.
The next couple of days did a lot of research on the CL550 4×4 Mahindra Major. I really started to like the car, but again to be let down. Sent an email to Poddy with the detail specs and he said
“DO NOT BUY IT!!!!!! WE NEED TO TALK !!!”
He said that this is a city vehicle, runs as taxis and not for serious off-roading and stuff. So again I was confused. I had a very long discussion and talking to Poddy and helped me alot. His reasoning was right, as he said that buying a 5.5 Lac vehicle is not worth it, if it’s simply a hobby, and further it doesn’t have what it takes to be a true off-roader.
He said that I would end up spending about 1-2 lacs more on a new CL550 in the 2 years of ownership due to the breakage and abuse that I would be putting the vehicle thru. He advised me that even if I could spend half that amount on an Army 550 is a much better option. And will come out much better. So after discussing with my Poddy and my brother Harbeer I decided that this makes sense & I would go for a disposal 550. Talked to Poddy the next day and told him my decision.
He called up a guy in Mayapuri, Gyan Khanna, Gyan quoted him 100k for a disposal and 25k for the registration. Both of us thought that this was too much.
On Friday 12/12/2008 I went to Mayapuri in the evening. Talked to many shopowners. Also saw the 540 DP at Jeep House. There was another CJ3B in the market. Spent some time taking pics etc. Here I saw the SandGrips a MM550 and boy did they look great. But alas these are no good for slush etc. These things I will decide later.
Went to Padam and saw a couple of CJ340’s and MM550’s. His father was at the shop quoted 1.00L for a MM550. The son was not there and I waited. Also saw the CJ3B of Geological Survey Deptt J&K regn. (50K asking) and army CJ3B’s 70K. Talked to Romi Malick(NIOC) on the phone and he told me to be careful when buying at Mayapuri.
After a lot of time waiting at Padam came and quoted me 85k and 13k for the registration in Punjab. I told him I will come tomorrow and there was no that I am paying 85k for a army disposal. He said come tomorrow and we’ll talk. Also he assured me everything is complete and if anything is missing he will complete it from another vehicle. All vehicles were 2000 make and had the new bolero engine (which they say is easy to repair and service)
Also talked to Gyan Khanna khanna motors and he quoted 175K for a completely done up army disposal. Further this guy was very discouraging on my idea on buying an army disposal. He said that it’s very difficult, and I won’t be able to do it, and that he will be in awe of me if I could properly restore a disposal vehicle. We’ll see!!!
On the way back I really started to like the blue jeep that was lying at jeep house as
1) it had a working 4×4,
2) it was registered,
3) car is drivable condition,
1) no disc & power brakes,
2) no Lsd & free wheeling hubs
3) engine was only 62 BHP Peugeot engine
4) no army rims,
5) smaller and less powerful engine than the MM550
I made a deal with no tyres no top, no battery & no seats for 80
Now the cons could always be worked on or changed. But all this was available in an army vehicle but had a cost as tyres with army rims (40k), power booster & disc brakes (5-10k), lsd & free wheeling hubs (10K), engine would remain the same and a little underpowered, but nothing could be done about it. Suspended pedals again had a cost. And the little things always add up in the end.
But I thought that a registered vehicle always has a benefit compared to a army and I made up my mind to go in for this. Talked to Poddy and he too agreed, but again said that we’ll decide next day in the market and then discuss, but will definitely pickup a vehicle.
Also talked to Jasvinder. He said that he too passed thru this kind of phase and for 8 months he was not able to decide, and that is when he decided after having a talk with UBS sir on purchasing a CJ3B.
Next morning after a very restless night, at 9ish i get a call from Poddy and he says that the vehicle is nice(540Dp) (I had emailed him the pics last night). The body work ok and we might pick that up after having a look around in the mkt. Began talking and fixed up a time around 1PM to meet at Mayapuri.
Within 10 mins got a call from poddy and he told me that if we pickup the vehicle for 90k, and just to bring it at par with the Army Spec will involve the the discs breaks 10k, tyres 5k (if we buy retreaded at the time) & rims 15k, rear LSD’s and front Free wheel Hubs 10K, this along would set us back by atleast 40K. The engine and mechanical any case we are doing the complete overhaul. Also the build quality of the Army is not a comparison to the civilian. So why waste money and get A product which is 5 years older than an army disposal. For the army spec Padam was asking 85K and another 15 k for the registration will cost max 100k compared to 130K min.
All this did make sense.
So then again i decided to drop the civilian and pick up a army spec ‘MM 550 4×4’
We met in Mayapuri at 2PM. Went to Pali. He had a couple of 550’s, one of which we really liked. The vehicles were complete and he said that if something were missing he would complete them.
This is when I learnt that it’s not possible for a novice to buy a vehicle from Mayapuri all alone. You need to have someone whom you can trust, and trust completely. This is what I think what Romi Malick must have meant when he advised me to be careful.
Pali was quoting 80K for the vehicles and the body work was also appearing ok. About the registration he said that he does not guarantee anything but he would introduce somebody to us and then its between us and that man. So we went to have a look around and came to Padam.
Padam had about 5-6 550’s standing. Poddy started looking around and we finalized a piece which appeared ok. The body work was also ok.
So after much looking around, reading on the internet, asking questions changing my mind a thousand times, etc etc etc, I was now about to put an end to all my restlessnes, anxiety, etc as I finalized a vehicle.
An Army Spec MM550 4×4 😄
With the final negotiations, haggling, etc we arrived at a price of 77k and 13k for the registration. Gave him the money and the vehicle was mine. At last I now had a 4×4 and was on my path to become a Jeeper. After it is restored, completely overhauled to the last bit. I will own my own Off-Roader.
Man internet is a bliss. I don’t have words that how could I have managed to do what I did without the help of everybody on NIOC, TeamBHP. Now that I have taken the plunge and the first step is complete the second task of the restoration is about start. For this again I will be needing the advise/ help/ suggestions and all the help I can manage to get my hands on.