Introduced in 1985, the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy has carved out a cult status for itself in the Indian auto market. But despite its popularity, the company somehow could never cash in on it and could never make big bucks out of it. The only big customers of the Gypsy were the law enforcement agencies in the country and the Indian army which found the petrol Gypsy’s light and agile nature perfect for its rough terrain needs. The Gyspsy was based on the Suzuki Jimmy, which was anyways meant to be an offroader. But even the Army is now doing away with the Gyspsy since it now wants a more modern and sturdy vehicle to fulfill its needs. So no new orders for the Gypsy have been placed by the army. So now Maruti is stopping production of Gypsys altogether.
The army now is looking in the 800kg general service category and has issued tenders in this regard already. Since the Gypsy falls in the 500kg category, it stands no chance of winning the contract. News is that Tata, Nissan and Mahindra have already bid for this mammoth Rs.3000 crore project for around 30,000 vehicles. The vehicle which ultimately gets the order will replace the Gypsys that are currently in service with the force. Other requirement for the tender includes features like ABS, power windows, central locking system, air-conditioning, airbags, five-doors etc.
Mahindra has gone into the project with a vehicle based on its famed Scorpio, while Tata is preparing something based on the Safari and Nissan with a X-Trail prototype. Testing of all these vehicles will commence by the end of this month and the chosen vehicle will enter service by in and around 2017. Maruti has decided not to take part in the bidding process since it does not have anything suitable to offer to the army.
The off-road and rough terrain capability of the Gypsy meant that it was popular with rally and autocross racers as well. The 80 BHP 4-cylinder, 1.2 liter petrol engine has been extremely reliable when it came to negotiating tough terrain such as high sand dunes in the desert areas. Lightweight nature of the Gypsy meant that it was easy to pull out of pits where it got stuck. The Gypsy had a 5-speed manual transmission, which added to the reliability factor of the car.