By on March 14, 2016

Chinkara Roadster S

The Indian auto industry is … unusual. Most personal transport is via motorcycle or scooter, but there is a history of car production spanning seven decades. As the country was one of Britain’s largest colonies, it’s not surprising that most of these cars are derived from English ancestors.

Enter the Chinkara Roadster S: an Indian interpretation of the iconic Lotus Seven, built with rough roads and ease of servicing in mind.

The Hindustan Ambassador was an adapted Morris Oxford from the ’50s, and was a top-selling model until recently. Standard Motor built old Triumphs. Tata, while homegrown, now owns Jaguar Land Rover. Fittingly, the first large non-English firm to make a significant impact in the country was Maruti Suzuki, best known as a motorcycle manufacturer.

But, sports cars have not been particularly important in this market, as the road network is relatively undeveloped. I can only find one such enthusiast car, again inspired by the UK — the Chinkara Roadster S.

Chinkara Roadster S two options

Lotus built their cars by raiding parts bins, reasoning that developing minor bits was a waste when the big firms had already done so. Chinkara has done the same, by sourcing suspension from Maruti Suzuki, and a 114-horsepower 1.8-liter four cylinder from Isuzu. These are apparently readily available and easily repaired throughout the subcontinent.

Styling is a bit funky, as the ride height, long-travel suspension and corresponding high front fenders betray the Seven-esque styling. The website notes a great deal of customization is available for the Lotus clone, and that the company is an expert in fiberglass manufacturing.

The interior looks a bit tight. The above video shows a road test of the Roadster S from several years ago, where the seemingly-average sized tester had to remove a shoe to work the clutch. The steering wheel location looks worrying as well, leaving the right knee hanging out of the cockpit.

I can’t quite tell if this manufacturer remains in business, as there are no listings of dealers or any recent road tests that I can find. It looks like the Chinkara would have cost around $11,000 USD when new, which looks like a bargain compared to $40,000 for a new Caterham.

I’m afraid, however, that the build quality appears to be worse than what is found on most backyard-built Locost Sevens, built from scraps and junkyard bits. In that context, the Chinkara Roadster S is no bargain.

[Images: Chinkara]

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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9 Comments on “Foreign Affairs: Chinkara Roadster S, India...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Countries where lives don’t matter get the coolest rides.

    Man, I’d run that all OVER Frostheevia here!

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      There’s fun and there’s safe. Granted, safe is good, but sometimes you just want to “Let It All Hang Out!”

      • 0 avatar
        wumpus

        On the other hand you can still buy any motorcycle you want (big old harley? GXR track monster? Busa muscle bike?) with barely more than a [car] drivers license and test (technically most states will eventually expect you to pass the motorcycle test. Plenty of riders: judging from those who crash*, not necessarily a representative sample) never bother. Most other (rich) countries have graduated levels of licenses and you have to prove yourself on a little bike before moving up**.

        * if you ride, you will crash. Try to keep it in the “fall over at a stop” level. The crashes reported above are presumably the worse variety.

        ** highly recommended in the US as well. Just not legally mandated.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    CAN SOMEONE AT TTAC TURN OFF THE POP UP WINDOW REQUIRING, NO DEMANDING, THAT WE LIKE TTAC’S PAGE ON FACEBOOK? IT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR OVER A MONTH NOW AND IT’S VERY ANNOYING.

    I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT MY DESIRE TO “LIKE” TTAC FB IS DIRECTLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE NUMBER OF TIMES I HAVE TO CLICK THE UNTRUTHFUL “LIKED ALREADY” RESPONSE.

    IN SHORT, IT’S A REALLY STUPID MOVE, TTAC.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Where Lotus meets dune buggy! I like it.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    They have an aviation dept. for those of you who truly have a deathwish.

    http://www.chinkara.co.in/Aviation.html

    Otherwise I dont have a problem with the jacked up Lotus 7 clone. Unless you think $30k is a fine price for a Caterham 160.

    Looking at the interior its clear its made up of Ebay china bits and pieces but you werent actually expecting quality for your $11k were you?

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Makes me think of the old British trials cars. It just needs a set of “fiddle” brake levers next to the driver and it would be ready to go.

    Cheerio,

    Bunter


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