The Republic Day parade in India is certainly one of the most pompous national events held in our country. It's a great moment for our country to showcase it's assets - from military battle tanks to fighter jets and even automobiles - among several other cultural and material assets. At Republic Day parades these days, you will even see convoys of exotic luxury cars rolling down the Rajpath in New Delhi, proudly plying the elites of our country. However, the elites of our country have not always travelled down the Rajpath in exotic cars at Republic Day parades.
Here we have a small clip from the 1995 Republic Day that show the different cars that were used for the parade back then. Incidentally, all these cars featured in this video here were India-made. Back then, we certainly did not have as many choices in cars as we have these days. That said, these Indian cars graced the parade with no less glamour than exotic luxury cars do these days. We see an army of Hindustan Ambassadors and Maruti Suzuki Gypsys, but the real star of the show were the Tata SUVs comprising the Sierra, Estate and the Sumo. In the end, we can even see then Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, proudly stepping down from a Tata Sierra.
The Tata Sierra is touted to be the very first lifestyle compact SUV in the Indian market. Launched for the first time back in 1991, the Tata Sierra was basically a closed body version of the Tata Mobile pickup, which went on to evolve into the Tata 207 pickup. With its two-door body and large side glasses, it soon became a cult in car design. The Tata Sierra, at the time of its launch, had a 2.0-litre Peugeot-sourced diesel engine under its hood It produced maximum power output of 68hp. The engine was later given a turbocharger in 1998, which raised the power output up to 90hp. The Tata Sierra was also equipped with an optional four-wheel drive system with self-locking rear differential and front hubs with manual locking and unlocking.
Post the launch of Sierra in 1991, Tata Motors expanded its passenger vehicle lineup with the Tata Estate, its first-ever station wagon. Like the Sierra, the Estate too was based on the platform of the Tata Mobile pickup truck and it shared the 68hp 2.0-litre Peugeot-sourced diesel engine. The Tata Estate sourced its inspiration from the station wagons of Mercedes-Benz from the late eighties, and had a very spacious cabin as well as a great boot space. However, the car suffered from a lot of niggles like poor fuel efficiency, underpowered engine and faulty electronics, which led to its demise in 2000.
While a lot of you may struggle to remember the Sierra and the Estate, the Sumo needs no introduction at all. Unlike the Sierra and the Estate, which boasted of unpopular body styles, the Tata Sumo was an instant success for the carmaker. In fact, an entire generation identified the very SUV body style with the Tata Sumo. In this video, we can see Special Protection Group or SPG officers of the Prime Ministers travelling down in the Sumo, and likewise, it was a very popular vehicle among politicians and civilians alike. The Sumo shared it's engine with the Sierra back then, and thanks to it's spacious interior and capacity to seat many, it was a major cash cow for Tata Motors back then. Tata went on to develop the Sumo for more than two decades, until it was discontinued a few years ago.