Here’s an interesting picture I have come across.This is the first production car from Toyota Motor Corporation to roll off their, then, super new factory assembly plant in Samut Prakan, Thailand.
The year is 1965, or Thai year 2508 and was a humble Toyota Corona.
A sign of what was to come across the globe.The Corona lasted in various guises from 1957 up until 2001.
Although Thailand had received earlier exports of Toyopet and then Toyota, this was the first to be assembled here. A good number of these still survive here too.
Across the world this was, for many countries, the first available Toyota on their markets.
As we now know, the rest is history…
Thailand no longer Detroit of Asia?
Thailand does put itself forward as being the Detroit of Asia, but with exports right down, the figures do not quite support the notion.Coupled with the fact that India has many more manufacturers than Thailand.
Here is a list of all Indian Car brands including foreign manufacturers building, or in a joint venture, in India:
BMW India (2006–present)
FCA India Automobiles (1997–present)
Jeep India (2016–present)
Ford India (1995–present)
Honda Cars India (1995–present)
Hyundai Motor India (1996–present)
Isuzu Motors India (2012–present)
Kia Motors India (2018–present)
Maruti Suzuki (1981–present)
Mercedes-Benz India (1994–present)
MG Motor India (2017–present)
Renault Nissan India (2010–present)
Nissan Motor India (2005–present)
Renault India (2005–present)
Toyota Kirloskar Motor (1997–present)
Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt Ltd is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan, for the manufacture and sales of Toyota cars in India. It is currently the fourth largest car maker in India after Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, and Mahindra. Production output: 142,500 units (2016)
Number of employees: 7,000
Founded: October 6, 1997)
Volkswagen Group Sales India (2001–present)
Audi India (2007–present)
Porsche India (2004–present)
Škoda India (2001–present)
Volkswagen India (2007–present)
Multix (2015–2018), a joint venture by Eicher Motors and Polaris Industries
Rajah Motors (1981–2009)
San Motors (1996–2013)
Standard Motor Products (1948–2006)
Swaraj Mazda (1983–2011)
Tata Motors (discontinued marques and subsidiaries)
Foreign manufacturers formerly building in India
Daewoo Motors India (1995-2003)
FCA India Automobiles (discontinued marques and subsidiaries)
Fiat India (1996–2018)
General Motors India (1995–2017)
Chevrolet India (2003–2017)
Opel India (1996–2006)
Swaraj Mazda (1983–2011)
Some (real) MG history
With the MG company, being owned by SAIC in China, a few words about the history of the company are in order.
The “father” of the MG Car Company was Cecil Kimber, who was employed by William Morris as a sales rep but then took over the position of Sales Manager of Morris Garages after the incumbent committed suicide!However, Morris Garages dated back to 1913 when Morris changed the name of his business from the Oxford Garage to Morris Garages (William Morris Proprietor).
It was 1921 when Kimber joined Morris Garages, but Kimber saw that there was an opening for performance cars and began to modify Morris cars by special order.
The modifications began by lowering the steering column and thesteering ratio was also modified, springs were lowered, better dampers and the battery box was relocated under the front seat instead of on the running boards.
This model was called the MG 14/28 Sports and retailed at GBP 350 compared to the standard Morris at GBP 175.The initial advertisement was in May 1924 and was the first time the MG Octagon logo was used.
Since then MG has had many corporations became the owners of the marque, including British Leyland, by that time the company was moribund.An optimist was someone who took his lunch to work!
Now Kimber’s Octagon is owned by SAIC in China, and whilst it may not be a full-blooded sports car, it is very obvious it is a car for today, as they are everywhere on our streets.
Having been involved in motor sport for so many, many years, I have seen some of the funniest situations that have occurred.Motor racing may be serious, but the people involved in it are all “characters” in one way or another.By the way, all the following tales are totally true.
The first one relates to one of the top motor racers in Australia, who brought his Holden sedan racer from Sydney to Brisbane to compete against the best that the Brisbane teams could offer.On paper, the cars were very similar in all respects, but the Sydneysider was quickest after the first practice.It was then that one of the local crews spotted the opposition sawing off the end of the exhaust pipe.Being a quick thinking young lad, he noted that the other team had dropped it in the rubbish bin and retrieved it.Rushing off to his team, they sawed exactly the same length off their exhaust pipe, this obviously being some sort of demon tweak.However, while they were doing it, the Sydneysider came past.“Why are you doing that?” he asked.It was then that he also revealed that the reason they had sawn the end off theirs was they had changed trailers and the exhaust pipe was sticking out and catching on the side of the trailer!
Getting race cars to the circuit always produces some whimsical moments as well.At the old Surfers Paradise Raceway on the Saturday of Qualifying, one driver was mooching through the pit area, waiting for his crew to bring the car down from Brisbane.He met his crew who were similarly mooching and said, “Which pit did you park the car in?”The crew’s reply floored him.“You said you were bringing the car, not us.”Great team organization – crew and driver at Surfers Paradise and the race car in Brisbane.
Another trailer incident happened with one crew on the way to the Mt Cotton hill climb circuit.They arrived and got out to drive the car off the trailer – except there was no car on the trailer!They knew they had put it on the trailer, so they hurriedly retraced their route and there it was, sitting in the middle of the road at a set of traffic lights.Obviously they had not tied it down and it just quietly rolled off backwards after they had taken off.Fortunately no damage, and nobody had hit it.
This next one happened to one of my team members, and I was the witness to it, and we still laugh about it.We had been invited to do some promotional laps at the local dirt speedway with our four car team, running them between each race.Our fourth member was running late and rocketed in with just five minutes to spare.“She’ll be right,” he said, after releasing the tie-downs holding the car on the trailer, and then neatly reversed the race car off his trailer, but he had forgotten to put the ramps in position, and it jumped off the end.Luckily no damage, despite its one meter drop-off.
Trailer problems feature strongly when race teams get together for a social evening with a few beers.This one happened when two of my friends were running at the top of the Australian Formula 2 championships.The next circuit was in Tasmania, about 2,000 km from our home base.It was decided that rather than taking two trailers down we would make my trailer into a double-decker, so one tow car would get both race cars to the circuit.The double deck fitted well and both F2 cars and spares were packed up ready for the trip.The only problem was that the driver had to catch the ferry to Tasmania from the mainland and the outfit had only 24 hours to get there.“No worries,” we all said as we watched the double-decker’s tail lights disappear into the night.It turned out that rather than ‘no worries’, it was all ‘worries’.Since we had not tried running the double-decker beforehand we did not know that it would get the wobbles at anything greater than 80 km/h.The poor driver had to sit at 79 km/h all the way, no rest stops and just made the ferry with 30 minutes to spare.We changed the weight distribution for the trip home, something the driver could not do on his own on the way down.
The next true (and amazing) tale happened when I was on a Porsche club rally, and we were coming back from Adelaide, a 3,000 km trip.Australia is a big place!We had pulled into a motel for the evening, and we were 11 cars, every one a Porsche 911.I got out, pushed the locking button down on the driver’s door and swung the door shut.As it clicked into place, to my horror, I saw that the keys were still in the ignition.What to do?Porsches are just about thief-proof, and none of us were accomplished car thieves like Nick Cage in the great movie “Gone in 30 seconds”.In desperation, I asked for the other 10 driver’s keys and tried them in my door lock.Amazingly, the keys from the 911 parked closest to mine opened my door!And just as amazingly, my key would not open his, though his would open mine.But neither key would operate the ignition of the other car.I was certainly lucky that evening.
The final story (for this issue) is about a motorcycle racer who used to travel to meetings with his race bike in the sidecar of his outfit.It blew a piston on the way to a meeting but the resourceful rider turned up a new piston out of hardwood, fitted the rings, fixed a metal plate to the top of the piston and carried on motoring!That’s what we call ‘bush’ engineering.