Premier Padmini cars were amongst the first cars in India and many wouldn’t even believe it that this cars commanded a 6 months or even 2 years waiting period back then. Cut to the present and people would scoff at these cars for their rudimentary technology. Many, however, would still be in love with this classics and are ready to give and arm and leg in the process. However for buying a second hand Premier Padmini, one doesn’t have to let go of their arm and leg. Infact buying one would cost just half of a middle class person’s salary or sometimes, even a quarter of it. But then finding one in good and repairable condition is an Herculean task. We have listed out some tips on what to check out when buying a used Premier Padmini.
The body of a Premier Padmini is prone to rust due to the rudimentary, as compared to today, technologies. So if you find rust everywhere, don’t panic as this is something which is to be expected. This can be taken care of by some 3M coating. The head lamps inspite of their age, don’t tend to black out and this is a good thing. However, it is a dirt cheap thing to repair, even if they would have blacked out. Glasses are available for as low as Rs 350 per glass. Many of the earlier users may have fit in front bumpers to a car, which is matchbox in design. These bumpers, also tend to rust out. The wheels of the Premier Padmini were of the thin kinds and hence wear issue was common. Many of the Premier Padmini tyres didn’t even make it to the first 10k kms. Replacing them is also cheap as these tyres or even wide ones are available at a reasonable price compared to the present lot of cars which come shod with expensive rubber. Inside, it would be as basic as it can get. First up, the steering wheel is of the roller and worm kinds. It usually develops a play after 10k kms. This play can be adjusted via a screw and lock nut which is present on the gearbox of the steering. Radial play can also be noticed in the cars which have crossed the 1 lakh kms mark. This happens due to a sector shaft bush wearing out. Rough roads can be termed as the reason why this happens. Unfortunately, they require a time consuming replacement procedure, which can come out as a bit expensive as well, approximately Rs 3k. The roller and worm also get worn out completely and this also needs to be replaced.
Fiat had ensured that the Padmini comes with the best of the suspension available in its time. This included coil springs for the lower arm and a robust suspension package. The A-arms of this car had ball joints as also bushings, which need to be replaced at periodic intervals of 35k kms. A stabilizer bar was also present in the front suspension and this one was generally a trouble free unit and hence only requires a peak into it post the 80k kms mark. To control body roll, there is a stabilizer bar towards the rear suspension as well. An axle beam and also the leaf spring made up for the rear suspension. Here too, the parts which are subject to wear and tear, are the leaf spring bushes. Whilst out on a test drive, the car should behave normally, even steering the car at very fast speeds shouldn’t yield a tail inducing action. The Premier Padmini was a rear wheel drive, which in its times, was a rarity.
Brakes in the Premier Padmini were a disappointment, however given the measly amount of power the car made, it was okay. The brakes were of the drum type and not of the self adjusting types but of the internally expanding range. In each service interval or periodically, the brakes need to be checked into. Most of the time a second hand Premier Padmini user would have to pump the brakes several times before any stopping action could be induced. If the brakes aren’t adjusted to act upon at the same time, the car may veer excessively to the left or right, depending on which wheel gets more retardation force. The brake pads used to last for a good 20k kms, so when eyeing a used Premier Padmini, then look out for this factor. The parking brake, which is directly linked to the rear wheels, also needs some minor adjustment time and again.
The earlier 1.1 liter Premier Padmini would be history now and hence we wouldn’t concentrate on it. Instead, chances are more that a second hand Premier Padmini featuring the 1.1 liter Solex carburetor one would be more readily available. This engine is also called as the S1. The reason behind this is that a smaller valves cylinder head was introduced and also valve timing along with a cam profile which was revised were introduced. The ignition system used was of the contact breaker types. The engine distributor was always subject to attracting moisture in various forms and this made the Padmini a car which requires frequent care. Spraying a can of WD40 in the engine bay relieves the distributor of the moisture and allows it to function normally. There was also a diesel engine, which was introduced later on. This one requires its water pump to be changed after every 12k kms and also the engine requires an overhaul, since the piston rings are prone to damage once they cross the 25k kms. The original owner may had actually changed the water pump as also the design of the piston ring. This setup makes it easier for enhancing the reliability factor of the car.
Premier Padmini cars were available with both column mounted shifters and also floor mounted ones. The floor mounted ones are the ones to go for. They had reliable Nissan components in them and moreover, it was one of the best gearboxes to be ever found. It was only a 4 speed unit but was a good unit which made shifting gears an easy task. The gear engagement on this type of cars was the synchromesh types. Watch for clutch wear-out though. Clutches were known to pack out as early as 45k kms, however carefully driven. A clutch plate change would cost around Rs 3400. Spares are cheap but are relatively hard to find. As for the prices, the second hand Premier Padmini price would be anything between Rs 5k to Rs 45k. Don’t’ buy the ones coming with CNG or LPG kits, as this could lead to reliability issues. Fuel efficiency can be around 8 kmpl in city and 13 kmpl on the highway.