Mahindra Thar’s transformational journey: From utility to modern appeal

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Over the years, the Thar has undergone several transformations. While maintaining its core identity – a rugged and capable off-roader – it has incorporated changes to reflect evolving needs and preferences. These include upgrades in engine options, the introduction of creature comforts, and a gradual shift towards incorporating some modern design elements.

Original Mahindra Thar

In 1949, Mahindra marked a significant milestone with the launch of the CJ3A, their first ever vehicle. Inspired by the iconic Jeep, the CJ3A was a rugged off-roader perfectly suited to India’s challenging road conditions. Its robust build and proven design resonated with the public, establishing it as a popular choice.

The CJ3A’s influence extended beyond its immediate success. Its design served as the foundation for future Thar iterations, solidifying its place as the cornerstone of Mahindra’s off-road legacy.

This early model also garnered widespread recognition through its appearances in Indian cinema, particularly police chase sequences, further endearing it to the public imagination.

1953 – The Hurricane Engine

The Mahindra CJ3B, introduced after the CJ3A, marked a step up in performance with the legendary Willys Hurricane engine. This powerful engine solidified the CJ’s reputation as a capable off-road vehicle.

The CJ3B offered a variety of configurations, including a basic “bare bones” version and models with a soft top or even no roof at all. Notably, some versions featured a folding windscreen, adding to the car’s open-air appeal. This versatility and focus on functionality contributed to the CJ3B’s popularity.

In 1985, the design underwent a significant change, leading to the introduction of the MM540. It’s important to note that some earlier CJ3B models lacked doors, reflecting the utilitarian focus of the era.

1985 – Mahindra MM540

The Mahindra MM540, introduced in 1985, marked a significant evolution in the CJ’s design. It retained some visual similarities to its predecessors, like the Armada-inspired grille, but featured a smaller engine bay and a crucial addition: doors.

While the lack of air conditioning meant the doors primarily served a safety function, particularly for children, their inclusion offered a practical advantage.

Also watch: Mahindra Thar.e Concept EV: The future of off-road SUVs?

The year 1995 witnessed another milestone – the introduction of the Mahindra Thar. Initially launched as a military vehicle, the Thar boasted an altered chassis and suspension specifically designed for demanding off-road conditions. This military-grade variant paved the way for the civilian Thar that would later capture the imagination of the Indian market.

1996 – The Mahindra Classic

The Mahindra Thar Classic, introduced in 1996 offered expanded options for civilian consumers. It catered to both enthusiasts and those seeking practicality.

For the adventurous spirit, the Thar Classic retained the option of a doorless configuration. For those prioritising comfort and everyday use, a soft-top roof variant was available. This model also marked the introduction of a wider colour palette and additional features to the Thar lineup.

The evolution towards a more “complete” car, with features beyond just off-road capability, likely contributed to the Thar’s growing appeal in the civilian market. It’s important to note that the Thar Classic eventually transitioned into the simply named “Thar” due to evolving safety regulations.

2010 – The First Thar

The Mahindra Thar we recognize today emerged from this evolutionary lineage. It received a significant design overhaul, marking a clear distinction from its predecessors. This strategic rebranding proved successful, propelling the Thar to strong sales figures.

In the off-road market, the Thar faced significant competition primarily from the Maruti Gypsy. While the Gypsy offered a gasoline engine option, the Thar initially focused solely on diesel powertrains.

Throughout its production (until 2019), the Thar received continuous improvements. In 2015, safety enhancements were implemented alongside upgraded off-road hardware. The 2019 Thar 700 edition marked a special variant, signed by the CEO and featuring unique badging and stickers.

2020 Mahindra Thar

The 2020 Mahindra Thar was a strong overhaul and it marked a significant shift. It retained the classic boxy shape while incorporating modern touches like new lights and wheels. A brand new turbo-petrol engine joined the familiar diesel option, giving buyers more choice. The interior saw improvements too, with a touchscreen infotainment system, adjustable driver’s seat, and power windows.

Safety features like airbags and ABS were also introduced. This 2020 Thar’s success paved the way for the Thar brand. Going forward, Mahindra Thar is expected to get a five door version later this year.

First Published Date: 09 Jun 2024, 10:00 AM IST

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