Malayalam movie superstar Mammootty has expressed the desire to buy the first Maruti car, keys of which were handed over to the owner Harpal Singh of Delhi by then prime minister Indira Gandhi on December 14, 1983.
HT had reported on April 17 that the car has not been used for one-and-a-half-years is now rusting away. Following the HT story , several people had come forward to help restore the car that has earned a cult status of being the first people’s car.Mammootty is an avid car lover and owns a Jaguar, Toyota Land Cruiser, BMWs and other fancy cars.
On Monday, Prasad Prabhakar, a film director and a friend of Mammootty, contacted HT and said: “After reading the reports about the car’s condition Mammootty told me that he was interested in buying the car. He was saddened to see that the car was rusting away and wanted to buy it from the family which went on to start a vehicle revolution for the common man in the country.”
“Mammootty told us that he still remembers the day the car was handed over to Harpal Singh. This vehicle had become the superstar then,” Prabhakar said.
Two of Mammootty’s representatives would come to Delhi to discuss with the family of Harpal Singh the possibility of purchasing the car, he said.
“If the family shows interest, Mammootty, who is presently in Dubai and would be coming to India’s in a week’s time, would go to Delhi to see the car,” he said.
In fact, Mammootty’s first car was also a Maruti which he bought in mid-1980s.
General manager of Delhi’s Le Meridien Tarun Thakral, who is also the founder of the heritage transport museum in Gurgaon, also contacted the Singh family for giving the car to the museum. “We have contacted the family. The car will add value to the museum and in return the museum will take its proper care,” said Thakral.
Earlier, several eminent people including quizmaster and a senior leader of the All India Trinamool Congress Derek O’Brien and Autocar India editor Hormazd Sorabjee too showed interest in buying the car.
The family members, however, said they were not interested in giving the car to an individual and their preference is that its makers restore it.
The owner Harpal Singh passed away in 2010 and the car is dying a slow death outside his Green Park residence in Delhi.
The officials had given three options to both the daughters and sons-in-law at their Defence Colony home.
“The Maruti officials said they would want to take the car and keep it in a museum owned by Suzuki in Japan or keep it at the Maruti’s Corporate office in Vasant Kunj or at their factory in Manesar in Gurgaon,” said Harpal Singh’s elder son-in-law Tejinder Ahluwalia, 65.
“We rejected the option of the car going to Japan because we think it is India’s property and should remain in the country. The car has a history behind it, it was a dream of Gandhi family, how can it be allowed to go to another country,” he added. “Will our next generation be able to see it if it goes to Japan,” he added.
The family members are mulling over the other two options and have asked the Maruti to give the proposal in written after which they would respond to it.“The option of keeping it in the office is Vasant Kunj sounds good to us,” he said.
Maruti officials confirmed visting Harpal Singh’s family members but refused to share further details.