Twenty five year old Samuel Abraham from Kochi has a thing for black. He has two Corollas both of which are black. He has this Winger which is black and almost all of his bikes were black. The only shiny colourful things he hold on to, are the trophies he won at various Motocross championships across the country.
Samuel is a super-cross/motocross rider by profession and likes to play in the dirt. He has seen many a podium finishes in various events, with his Royal Enfield Himalayan. His latest weapon of choice is a Kawasaki KX250F with a 249cc, four stroke, DOHC, water cooled, single cylinder engine developing 45hp and weighing 104kg. For a bike that costs Rs.7.7 lakhs, it cannot be registered and hence, cannot be ridden on the public roads. The Tata Winger van you see here is his transportation for the Kawasaki KX250F.
The Winger is based off a first generation Renault Traffic van which was made from 1980 all the way to 2001! Tata later bought the license to the design and tooling to make it here as the Winger. Then they fitted it with the 2.0L engine from the old Sumo and sold it here in three trim levels. It is a front wheel drive chassis with proper box styling- closest thing we have to an Indian VW T4, if you like.
Samuel chose the Winger for the acres of space it had on offer. He could fit two bikes, the necessary tools and all his gear in the back. He could also take two or more of his mates along on those long trips to various events. The Winger has individual seats and they are useful when taking a break between races. The roof mounted air-conditioning for all rows, was another huge plus point. He says it returns similar fuel economy as an Innova and it is very effortless when driving long distances. He wishes, it had more power though; but there is only so much you can do to an old school non CRDI diesel engine.
So instead of pursuing performance, he turned to making it look good. The interiors were upgraded with new upholstery. The redone seats are much better to sit in than the ones that came with the car. For the exterior, he had only one colour choice in mind. It was black; the darker, the better. Heard of BMW making a big fuss about their non-reflective Vantablack coloured X6 recently? Well, this is our ‘Van-ta-black’ a.k.a. ‘the Black Van’. Painting was done locally and Samuel is quite happy with the results.
He had been in touch with us for modifying his Winger, for a very long time. The biggest challenge was the wheels. The Winger has a very strange 160×4 hole pattern. It was next to impossible to find a replacement wheel that fits this, so Samuel went through the process of having a custom PCD adapter fabricated. It looks odd to see the adapters which convert 160 to 100PCD. But in the end, he could fit these first gen Verna wheels with 195 section tyres. How the tall body of the Winger makes those 16 inch rims look small is another thing altogether.
For now, this Tata Winger has been the faithful companion for Samuel and an indispensable part in his racing career. It is more than a tool to transport his bike and gear and the two have spent a lot of time travelling to various parts of the country. The van will also serve as a mobile billboard for his future sponsors. He is preparing for the next MRF National Championship in 2020 and is hopeful he would make it to the podium. You will see more of him, his Kawasaki and the Van-ta-black Winger at the next big event near you.