Stuttgart: A rather quaint two – wheeler awkwardly stands out among a long line of imposing Mercs parked at one of world’s biggest automotive museums in Stuttgart, Germany — a light beige Bajaj Chetak scooter,
Most Indian may have discarded their Chetaks for scrap many year ago, but not Armin G Groeger, who recently brought the iconic Indian scooter named after legendary Rajput Warrior Rana Pratap’s horse. The man who explains the magic of Mercedes to thousands as the head of Mercedes Benz museum’s visitor services rides a Chetak to work.
When Groeger spotted an online ad in 2010 for sale of a 1998 model of the iconic Indian scooter, which has gone off the factory floor now, he couldn’t resist the temptation of buying it.
The model, which once used to command a premium in India if one had to beat years of waiting period to buy it, lost ground in the face of growing competition from trendy motorbikes post liberalization. Finally its production was discontinued in 2009,”Best of all it already has had a German licensing as it has been imported via Italy and registered in Germany. But it never malfunctioned after the wheels had clocked only 5 km. I got it for 500 euros — invested another 500 — and am now a proud owner of an original Indian Bajaj,” says Groeger, who first drove the Indian scooter in New Delhi, where his friend runs an NGO. “With no limits on the German Autobahn, my personal record has been 285 km/h on a motorbike.
I was in the German parachute troops but the ultimate ‘kick’ for me as a westerner was in 1996 driving in the Delhi business traffic, on the ‘wrong’ left side, on a main road with six lanes but 12 parallel driving vehicles, with no front brake steering a Bajaj scooter myself. Wow what a ride!” says Groeger, whose father was a skilled German horse – saddler from East Prussia.
(Contributed by: Harit Mehta, The Times of India, New Delhi, on 17 February 2012)