The ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) boom witnessed during the COVID era saw people devoting time to hone their skills. Some went ahead by investing more time, effort and money to create working models of motor vehicles. Some of these ‘DIY automobiles’ brought overnight fame to its makers.
If you can’t own a Lamborghini, make one
Anas Baby, a native of Senapathi in Idukki district, is devoting a few hours at night these days to respond to Whatsapp messages flooding his phone. Anas’s phone has been busy ever since visuals of the lime-green Lamborghini Huracan he made for himself appeared on social media a few weeks ago.
“I couldn’t buy one, so I made one,” goes the simple logic of 25-year-old Anas. “The on-road price of the Lamborghini Huracan is around Rs 3.75 crore. I spent Rs 2 lakh, 1.5 years and a lot of scrap materials to make my dream car,” said the MBA graduate.
The model created by Anas is strikingly similar to the original but he hasn’t seen a real one yet. In Kerala, only two, including actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, own the model. “I have seen only the Lamborghini Gallardo. I saw visuals of Huracan on YouTube. There are YouTube channels which provide tutorials on making car models. I took screenshots of the parts. Then, I enlarged the shapes using projectors and cut it to the requisite size using scrap materials,” he said.
Anas used the engine of the old Hero Honda Glamour bike he had. An additional gearbox was fixed for ‘reverse.’ The power was amplified to 200 cc. He took the help of a nearby smithy to remodel the tires of an old WagonR and Maruti 800 to create 19- and 18-inch back and front alloy wheels.
Things were not easy for Anas when he started his work. “People used to ridicule me. My initial investment was Rs 20,000 I saved from my work at a sports store at Mangalapuram. My family, consisting of my mother and brother, stay in an old house. Our old previous house was severely damaged in the soil piping that happened during the 2018 floods. So, my mother, Mercy, was a bit apprehensive in investing money in what I was doing while we were in a financially insecure situation. Eventually, all of them supported me in making it a reality,” said Anas, who now ekes out a living by taking up jobs under the employment guarantee scheme.
“Recently, a team of officials from the Santhanpara police station came here to see my work. They told my mother that it is a matter of pride. Such words are a great encouragement,” says Anas, who is planning to convert it into an electric vehicle. Anas is now working to amass Rs 50,000 for the next ‘mission.’
The Beetle from backyard
Being the son of a mechanic, finding materials or welding parts were easy tasks for Cherthala-native Rakesh Babu. So, when the lockdown gave him enough free time, Rakesh made a two-seater modelled on the Volkswagen Beetle. The yellow colour hatchback miniature fashioned out of scrap cost him Rs 40,000.
An employee of AutoKast Cherthala, Rakesh used his free time to make the Beetle, which has been a childhood dream. Rakesh tried his craft on Beetle after successfully making an electric jeep using bike engines. “I used the 100 cc engine of a Suzuki Samurai bike. There is a kick lever as well as a self-start button; an additional gearbox was fixed for reverse. Galvanized iron sheets were used for the body. Tyres from a Bajaj autorickshaw were used for the Beetle model,” he said.
Interestingly, utensils such as steel plates and cups were used as wheel cups and cup holders.
Several people approached him to buy the cute Beetle model but Rakesh has no plans to sell it. The 29-year-old has also made a miniature RX 100 bike using a tree cutting machine, which gives a sound similar to the original one.
“A wheelchair-bound person came on his two-wheeler all the way from Kayamkulam to meet me and my car recently. It gave me immense joy to know that people value such efforts,” said Rakesh, who wants to create more automobile models.
Cycle rickshaw-turned sports car
Pestered by his daughter, Vypin-native Sens Anthony began working on a model of an auto-sized four-wheeler to kill lockdown blues. When the working model of the four-wheeler was finally ready, not just his daughter, scores of people began praising Sens. This encouraged him to make an electric car, modelled on a sports car. This time, it was based on the request of an NRI, who ordered it for his children.
While the first car cost him around Rs 30,000, the second was made with Rs 2 lakh, including labour charge.
Sens, an interior decorator, said he purchased most of the materials for construction of the four-wheeler from online shopping sites. “I never had any prior experience. I watched several making videos on Youtube during the lockdown. Motors used in old cycle rickshaws in Delhi were used for it. Galvanised iron sheets were used for the first model while fibre material is used for the second car,” he said.
Now more and more people are approaching Sens to get cars done.
There is one thing that impedes such models from venturing out on the roads. The Transport Department is not ready, understandably, to grant permission on grounds of safety.
(Jisha Surya is an independent journalist based in Thiruvananthapuram.)