The Evolution Of Off-Roaders — The Past Meets The Present

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During World War II, the American army wanted a vehicle that was literally indestructible and could go anywhere. Willys-Overland was one of the companies that bidded to make a vehicle and so they did. The company came up with the Willys MB.

The MB was better known as the 'Jeep' and Willys made over six and a half lakh vehicles for the military. The Jeeps proved to be very efficient and reliable, which went on to be collected by car collectors.

Over the years, other carmakers wanted to build something similar, if not better. The company that got the licence to make and build the Willys Jeeps in India was Mahindra, back in 1948. Soon, the company established itself as a Jeep builder in India and sought about improving the product.

Mahindra soon had models like the MM540, which was a very capable off-roader, as well as a workhorse that most people needed. Soon, better vehicles started taking over the market and Mahindra had to improvise.

Mahindra announced that they would come up with a vehicle that will be an off-roader, but good enough to be used on the street to commute. In 2010, the Mahindra Thar was introduced.

When launched initially, people were disappointed because the Thar looked very similar to the 540. Slowly, fan following started because of its ability to go off-road, and also offer a decent ride on tarmac.

The Thar gained a lot of attention among off-road enthusiasts due to a fact that the raw design of the vehicle was extremely customisable. Owners were able to play around with aftermarket suspension, tyres, and accessories, which made the already capable Thar into a very potent off-road vehicle.

Speaking about the engine, the Thar was launched with a 2.5-litre DI engine that made 63bhp and a 2.5-litre CRDe engine that made 104bhp. The Thar was available as a 2 Wheel-Drive (2WD) variant as well, but most preferred the 4 Wheel-Drive (4WD) option.

The Thar also received a minor facelift since its launch. Mahindra improved the vehicle's interior and gave the SUV a new set of bumpers, along with wheel arches that have integrated turn signals. Mahindra updated the 4WD system with a lockable differential, making the vehicle even more capable of tackling off-road terrain.

The Thar is also the preferred choice of youngsters, because it looks simple, and is extremely customisable as mentioned earlier. The Thar is definitely an evolved version of the original 'Jeep', but hard-coded with off-road DNA.

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Story first published: Monday, July 4, 2016, 15:23 [IST]
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