-->

Cool Jeeps You Can't Have - Mahindra of India

jscherb

Expedition Leader
You may be familiar with Mahindra from their U.S. introduction of the Roxor several years ago:



Or, if you live in heartland U.S.A., you may be familiar with Mahindra as a tractor manufacturer (they are the largest manufacturer of tractors in the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahindra_Tractors).

This thread will focus on Mahindra as the largest manufacturer of Jeeps and jeeps outside of the U.S.

I write "Jeeps" and "jeeps" because Mahindra got their start in 1948 assembling CKD Jeep kits in India. CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits were built in Toledo, crated and shipped to India and assembled and sold in India and other countries by Mahindra. The CKD kits are spelled with a capital "J" because they are real, Toledo-manufactured Jeeps. But before long, Mahindra began adapting the basic Jeep design to requirements in India and began manufacturing some of their own components - frames and body parts at first, until their vehicles were 100% made in India (lower case 'j", since they are were no longer Toledo products).

Over the past 20 years I've spent a lot of time in India, and fell in love with some of the jeep variants designed and built by Mahindra. I've taken many photos, studied the various models and collected sales literature and I'll try to share as much of that as I can in this thread. Unlike my recent "Land Rover Ideas for Jeeps" thread, there probably won't be too many ideas in this thread that you can apply to your overlanding/camping Jeep unless you're building custom bodywork, but hopefully you'll find it interesting anyway.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I'll start at the beginning. Early flatfenders are still fairly common in rural India, partly because they've been kept running forever and partly because Mahindra manufactured variants of the flatfender design into the 90's. Willys MB/Ford GPW Jeeps were first brought to India by the Americans and the British in WWII, and many of those are still in use. Many CKD versions are still on the road as well.

I photographed this one last year in Khajuraho in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Khajuraho is known for ancient temples adorned with amazing erotic carvings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khajuraho_Group_of_Monuments). I don't know if this is a U.S. built Jeep brought to India for WWII or a Mahindra assembled CKD kit although if the number 42 on the front bumper is an indication to be believed, maybe it's a 1942 U.S. built Jeep. BTW the other number on the front bumper (beginning with "MP" is the registration number. Apparently at least in Madhya Pradesh you can get away with painting your registration number on the vehicle instead of bolting a license plate on.





This photo shows the first Mahindra assembled Jeep. Looks to me like it might be a CJ2a but the spotting details aren't visible in this photo. I've seen a video by Mahindra that shows a Jeep with a 9-slot (MB) grille (allegedly a Mahindra-assembled Jeep), so I'm not sure what this first Mahindra assembled Jeep is since the grille isn't visible. If it were an MB I believe some of the shovel indentation below the driver door opening should be visible in front of the sign so I'm going to guess it's a CJ2a.



Right after the war Willys released the CJ2a with its 7-slot grille and larger headlights as they were in a rush to capitalize on the buying boom that was about to happen after the war. War production stopped very suddenly after V-J day and I suspect there were lots of 9-slot MB grilles in inventory at that point but since Willys wanted to consumerize the Jeep they went with the 7-slot grille for the CJ2a. I further suspect that when the Mahindra CKD deal came along Jeep used it to get rid of the 9-slot grille inventory so there may have been some CJ2a CKD Jeeps assembled in India with 9 slot grilles. That's conjecture on my part and I'm still looking for an answer and early Mahindra history isn't very clear.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Next I'll jump to a more recent model - the Thar. In the first post I mentioned the Roxor, which has been sold in the U.S. as an OHV - it's not street legal in most places. The Roxor is a stripped down version of the street legal Thar, which has been sold in India for years. In the last post I mentioned that Mahindra got its start by assembling CKD Jeeps in India, the Roxor reverses the procedure - the Roxor is assembled in Michigan from CKD parts manufactured in India (and I am told, some U.S. manufactured parts).

This is a Thar:







The Thar was manufactured up until about a year ago (and may still be manufactured for military contracts) but has been replaced for consumer sales by a new model (also called the Thar). The new Thar is so popular there's now a 9-month waiting list and Mahindra has stopped taking orders for it. It resembles a JK 2dr although it has absolutely nothing in common with the JK. I'll post about the new Thar sometime later in the thread.

I have lots of photos of Thars as well as Thar sales brochures, much more to come.

Background facts: The Thar is named for the Thar Desert which is one of the largest deserts in the world. The desert is in northwestern India and borders Pakistan and a portion of the Thar Desert extends into the Pakistani province of Sindh.


I'll try to do a new post in this thread every morning. The Jeeps I've shown so far seem very conventional although as I post more I'll show how different the Thar is from CJs over here, but there are also many very interesting models produced by Mahindra that are nothing like the Jeeps produced in Toledo. Stay tuned.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Heres a fleet of 7 passenger plus driver taxis in India, 2014

DSC_0891.jpg

And a close up ....
DSC_0895.jpg

Off topic but, in India truckers expect you to HONK as you pass them. Kinda musical.
DSC_0023_2.jpg
 
Last edited:

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Heres a fleet of taxis in India

View attachment 639581

And a close up ....
View attachment 639582
Most of those are "Major" models. The Major is a long wheelbase Mahindra derivation of the CJ-3b and many of them are still in service in India today, mostly in rural India. I've got many detailed photos and some brochures for the Major I'll be posting along the way in this thread.

Judging by the wall in the background, that may be a fleet that takes people from a main road up to an ancient fort. There are many forts like that in India, many with walls around them like that and most have fleets of jeeps hanging around so tourists can avoid the walk up to the fort, which is very often perched on a high hill.
 

autism family travels

Active member
Here is a link to their accessories site.

Accessories | ROXOR Off Road

Their main site is down because Jeep sued them and they are giving the rig a redesign. I am not expecting a total new "jeep" just removing the Jeepiness from them. Here is a photo of the old roxor available until 2020.

 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
Here is a link to their accessories site.

Accessories | ROXOR Off Road

Their main site is down because Jeep sued them and they are giving the rig a redesign. I am not expecting a total new "jeep" just removing the Jeepiness from them. Here is a photo of the old roxor available until 2020.

This apparently is their answer to resolve the "Jeep trade dress" lawsuit they lost:



Looks a bit like a Toyota FJ to me, maybe Toyota will sue next?

According to a Mahindra statement:

International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued its final ruling and determined that the redesigned 2021 ROXOR does not infringe on the “Jeep Trade Dress” claimed by FCA. This follows on the heels of earlier ITC and Federal District Court rulings that Mahindra did not infringe on any of FCA’s registered trademarks. The ruling comes after a long-running trade dress dispute between FCA and Mahindra.
Mahindra's 2009 agreement with Jeep included this exhibit, which both parties agreed would be an acceptable grille design for Mahindra to use. The original Roxor grille is very similar to this one, although it's just sheet metal and doesn't include all the chrome.



Jeep sued in the U.S. and Mahindra lost that suit and had to discontinue sales of the Roxor, at least temporarily. It's not clear if the ITC's ruling will hold in the U.S. or if it does if Jeep will sue again.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
I can't tell from the photo. Is the Thar coil or leaf spring?
That Thar has an independent front suspension because it's a CRDe model. Other models have solid axles in front but the CRDe has IFS.

I took this photo under that Thar:



I'll post some Thar brochures over the next few days showing the specs and options.
 

Chorky

Observer
It is a shame that our market in the us is driven so toward complex comfort and large vehicles. Although i would like to have a rig with a heated wheel for winter but it sure would be nice if a good solid small truck was more available. these seem like they could be a solid option especially in smaller towns where atv use is already prevalent and the local sheriff doesnt much care about what goes where.
 

Chorky

Observer
😆 It's never a problem, until it's a problem........
ha yeah well I suppose I should make the correction that 'in small towns where the sheriff doesn't mind responsible use of atv's on the road' - to be a bit more accurate. It also warrants the comment that many of the highways where I live have speed limits not conducive to atv's for long distance travel and no real side street to use. which is a shame - everyone wants to always go so fast around here :-( I just think it would be cool if such vehicles were able to be used as another option. But so many laws and rules won't allow for it I suppose. Except for those small towns :)

Anyway. I think these came out a couple years ago now? I remember kinda scoffing at them at first, however, now they seem pretty cool to me. I'll be curious to see what their new website shows. It seems like a modern combination of a Jeep and Rover. would you agree Jeff?

Also, that IFS seems interesting. IFS has been around quite a while now and seems to be more reliable than they once were years ago. I wonder anymore the true benefit of solid - aside from the obvious strength in more hard core situations. However, this past summer I rented, for my dad, a side by side in the Beartooths, and that sucker got up to 70 in no time flat, and was WAY more comfortable off highway than my Jeep ever could be... but. also way more expensive than I can afford for a toy.
 

jscherb

Expedition Leader
... It seems like a modern combination of a Jeep and Rover. would you agree Jeff?...
The few Mahindras I've shown so far I wouldn't say are a modern combination of a Jeep and a Land Rover, but many of the models I'll get to over the course of the thread I definitely think of that way. Having done many road trip miles in India, including very remote rural areas in the both the desert states and the Himalayan states and in rural Nepal, I can say for sure that Mahindra makes extremely rugged and reliable vehicles. Even a "road trip" in many parts of India will punish a vehicle more than many trail miles in the U.S., and the Mahindras in rural taxi service take punishment that I wouldn't want to subject my Jeeps to. In that way many of the Mahindras I'll show as this thread goes on will be more than capable of accepting the title of "modern combination of Jeep and Land Rover."
 

Chorky

Observer
The few Mahindras I've shown so far I wouldn't say are a modern combination of a Jeep and a Land Rover, but many of the models I'll get to over the course of the thread I definitely think of that way. Having done many road trip miles in India, including very remote rural areas in the both the desert states and the Himalayan states and in rural Nepal, I can say for sure that Mahindra makes extremely rugged and reliable vehicles. Even a "road trip" in many parts of India will punish a vehicle more than many trail miles in the U.S., and the Mahindras in rural taxi service take punishment that I wouldn't want to subject my Jeeps to. In that way many of the Mahindras I'll show as this thread goes on will be more than capable of accepting the title of "modern combination of Jeep and Land Rover."
Yes this is what I essentially was getting at without saying it. Many of the vehicles we have in the US are just not robust compared to other parts of the world. In terms of physical strength of frames and components, and also reliability of electrical components and highly computerized systems - however, a lot of that has to do with the fact our road systems are so darn nice and smooth compared to such rural areas - like Mongolia for example. And again, compared to most of these places, the US is also a modern 1st world country where long distance travel on unimproved roads doesn't even exist anymore.

I'm really interested to see the vehicles you cover here.... and hope you can get into some details where possible of engines, computer systems (if they even exist) frame differences, etc.... It's just surprising to me that in the US and Canada we have such relatively fragile vehicles, it really questions if modern convenience is even worth the risk - then again we, at least currently, have the infrastructure to support such fragile systems, due to very good quality roads compared to the rest of the world. And of course the desire for such high speed travel plays into that as well. Obviously going 80 on a nasty dirt road isn't really an option, yet in lesser developed countries, travel is significantly slower and more time consuming - dare I say that to be a good thing??
 
Top