Maruti Gypsy (Predator). Photos are below the text.
Bob has this habit of giving his cars a name and this Gypsy is called “Predator”. He also believes any car is only as good as the places it takes you to. And as Predator took Bob to many great destinations all across India, it remains amongst his favourite vehicles.
Predator was extensively modified by Bob in early 90’s and showcases his design and development skills. He made it into a proper convertible with a specially fabricated metal hardtop fitted with clamps. So when Predator was being driven in the city or used for traveling long distances, the hard top remained in place providing security and protection from heat, dust and noise.
But the moment Bob reached a place of natural beauty, the clamps would be opened and the top would come off. The hardtop panel over the front seats was easiest to remove, taking only a couple of minutes and it could also be stored in the back of the vehicle. The larger rear portion of the top, needed to be lifted out and stored in a safe place, so it was only removed where Bob was assured of a secure parking.
Other major modifications to Predator include a front facing comfortably shaped and cushioned rear seat for two. This was fitted after cutting and lowering the floor to ensure both front and rear seats were at the same height, which is otherwise not the case in a Maruti Gypsy. And to give rear seat passengers a sense of spaciousness, the hardtop had extra-large panoramic sliding windows.
The entire front facia was changed and featured four rectangular headlights, instead of the two original round ones. The grille was also custom fabricated as per Bob’s design and both the front and rear bumpers were replaced with steel tubular pipe ones fitted with custom built corner pieces.
Bob’s attention to detail can also be seen in the fuel filler cover. The Maruti Gypsy never had it, but Bob designed and fitted one. Strong nerf bars installed on the chassis below the running boards served as footsteps and also provided protection while off-roading. The front bumper had built in mounts, to fit up to six extra driving lights!
According to Bob, one of the things he loves most was the custom paint job with tiger stripes on the sides. Pugmarks were also spray painted on the bonnet with a tiger’s tail running down the side of the fender to give the impression of a “crouching tiger”. Interestingly, Bob saw and photographed several tigers from Predator’s driving seat.