While the city is jubilating over the invention an all terrain sports car by students of Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology (MJCET), the future of the makers of the replica of the Bugatti Veyron from a humble Maruti Esteem, now lies in shambles.
An Esteem turned into a Bugatti has grabbed eyeballs all over the world but has left its owner with empty pockets
While the city is jubilating over the invention an all terrain sports car by students of Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology (MJCET), the future of the makers of the replica of the Bugatti Veyron from a humble Maruti Esteem, now lies in shambles. The replica manufactured by SF Carz was Hyderabad’s answer on the insult the real one had caused way back in 2011, when the three-tonne French hyper-car rubbed its buttocks on a speed-breaker at Shamshabad Highway..
Shaik Fahmeen showed the real world that “If your sports car cannot do this petty task, we’ll make one that can.” The accolades that poured in from far across gave the makers such an ego boost, that they thought they would be raking in hitherto unimaginable moolah. Two years down the line, the vehicle remains unsold and now all that they yearn for is a lakh or two over the investment. On whether he would be making another supercar’s replica, Faheem says, “I can’t afford one.
The car we built is up for sale. But no one’s agreeing to the price we quoted.” The initial price Faheem thought of quoting was around Rs 20 lakh. He dropped it to Rs 10 lakh a while later and yet the car that once made India proud still lies in a scruffy garage in one of the countless alleys of Abids.
Speaking about those who come down to see the car, he says, “Saab! That’s the thing about Hyderabad. Hundreds of visitors used to come down and tell me how good I was and how good the car is. But none came forward to buy the car. For everyone, the car was a modified Maruti Esteem, which is one of the cheapest in the aftermarket. What they didn’t respect was the effort, time and money that were spent.”
The car isn’t an exact replica. With minor tweaks here and there, the spoiler was given a more indigenous design, it is less accentuated on its rear end; instead of Bugatti’s logo, the car has its own which says ‘SF’; and the overall vehicle profile is a bit smaller. Where the normal Bugatti Veyron is powered by a W16, 8L, quad-turbocharged engine which famously has over a 1000 horsepower, underneath the sheet metal of this pseudo Veyron beats a humble 1.3L MPFI engine that barely manages 85 bhp.
But there is something people don’t know about the car. Faheem built the car from the scratch - he didn’t have a blue print, he hadn’t seen the real car. All he had was a few photographs of the Bugatti Veyron which he found on a car magazine. “This was my biggest challenge, I didn’t know the measurements. I didn’t know the actual size of the car either. All I knew was that I was going to build a Bugatti Veyron in India for India,” Faheem beams.
He continues, “I don’t know if the blueprints would have been of much use. I dropped out of school and have been working in fixing and restoring cars from the age of nine. A person motivated me to bring this idea to life and invested in it. It took me two years and around Rs 8 lakh to finish the car.”
Unlike the usual modifications that are done on fibre, the SF Veyron has a full metal body. Everything including the dashboard is made of metal. Each part of the car is handmade. This was one of the reasons why the cost escalated and the vehicle took so much time to be built. .
The car also drew some flak. A few called it a ‘bad one’. To agree, replica cars can have this problem. Sometimes, they are deep in the uncanny valley. They look a little bit like the supercars they're aiming for, but not quite, and it makes one squint and stare. Then again, there’s hardly anyone in India who has seen a real one.
And when Faheem’s Bugatti rolls out - it becomes a street magnet. “My car is world famous, renowned British Magazines like Top Gear and American ones like Car Throttle have published its photos. Now it is only lip-service. I think everyone likes it, don’t they?” he asks.