This year, India turns 70. The occasion is as special as it gets and we decided to celebrate it in the best way we know– cars, motorcycles and scooters. They have been, literally, the ‘driving force’ of all the Indians since decades and in recent times, the automobile sector in India has grown multifold – making India as one of the largest auto markets globally.
So while today there may be all kinds of scooters up for grabs with their own identities and specialities, it was not always the case. The choices were only a handful and these scooters had to pass the test of time as their average usage spanned many more years than what it is today.
Some scooters fulfilled that requirement and some did a bit more. The latter went on to carve their way into the history of India and also in the hearts of those who owned them. Hence, we decided to put together a list of such scooters. Unable to choose a favourite, the list is in no particular order. As a bonus, do play the listed videos too for an epic trip down the Nostalgia lane!
1. Bajaj Chetak
The Chetak just had to be on this list. Even today, some of these scooters can be spotted running proudly on city streets and yet they never feel out of place. Made by Bajaj, the scooter is believed to be named after the horse “Chetak” which carried Maharana Pratap safely out of the battle of Haldighati, fought on 21 June 1576.
The Chetak was originally based on the Italian Vespa Sprint which was made by Piaggio from 1965 to 1976. In early 1980s, the Chetak’s design was replaced with a new in-house design which shared the same general appearance and style – the one that stuck to everyone’s mind.
The Chetak went on to become a household name and managed to carve out space for itself which it enjoyed until being discontinued in 2005.
2. LML Vespa
Remember Milind Soman playing Saxophone at a beach during sunset which ends up calling the LML Vespa? While you may or may not remember that, you would remember the LML for sure. That’s how popular the scooter was, making it the only real competitor to the Chetak for decades.
The result of a joint venture in 1986 between LML and Piaggio, it lacked an automatic lubrication system and hence required two-stroke oil to be pre-mixed with petrol for longevity. LML also went on to make other iconic scooters like the LML NV and the equally popular LML Select 2. The LML Vespa also came with split seats with the rider’s seat having a spring beneath it and came with a 150cc engine on board along with a four-speed "twist-grip" manual transmission.
3. Kinetic Luna
“Chal Meri Luna!”
Okay, we just had to do it. This phrase became an instant hit with the Indian masses when the moped hit the roads in 1972 and went on to become a massively popular choice through the 70s and 80s. Offered as a viable, motorised entry-level alternative to everything else, the Luna struck a chord with the Indian masses at a time when advertisements were meant to cater to high-class English speaking audience. The Luna single-handedly took Kinetic to the list of top two-wheeler makers of the decade and also paved way for future products and Kinetic’s alliance with Honda – called Kinetic Honda. What followed became history but the Luna became iconic.
4. TVS Scooty
Believe it or not, the TVS Scooty was first conceptualised in 1994. Initially, it was meant for both men and women but it took TVS no longer than a couple of years to realise that the scooter was being purchased by more women than men. In 1996, the Scooty was repositioned as a product meant for women despite the fact that the male riders dominated the market. Slowly and steadily, the bet returned the dividends in a way that no one could have imagined. Today, scooters which are targeted at female riders are referred to as a “Scooty” in general.
This went on to such an extent that the TVS Scooty went on to become the mode of travel for Asin in Ghajini, for Genelia D’Souza in Chance Pe Dance and Ayesha Takia in the Bollywood film Sunday. Even Ranbir Kapoor used the TVS Scooty to get around in the film Rocket Singh. The TVS Scooty even gave birth to a reality show on MTV called “Scooty Teen Diva”. How many scooters can boast of that?
5. Honda Activa
If we have to talk about scooters in today’s day and age then we simply cannot miss out on the Honda Activa. First launched in 2000, the Activa has only gained in popularity ever since and even after today, the scooter has got a waiting period in metro cities. The Scooter has also played a key role in establishing Honda as one of the biggest two-wheeler automakers in India. As far as perception goes, the 17-year history behind the scooter has helped it establish itself as a reliable and ‘safe’ bet when it comes to buying a new scooter in the market.
So this was our list of the top five scooters that managed to carve their way into the books of Indian history. Do you think we missed out on any scooter or is there any that you would have liked to see on this list? Let us know in the comment section below.