John Abraham can afford to buy any car he likes. And since he likes SUVs, he has an Audi Q7 in his garage. Since he loves bikes, he also has a Yamaha R1. But what’s he doing with a Maruti Gypsy?
It’s a story of lost love. And, like all great love stories, it spans many years. Flashback to little John in his half-pants kicking a football around. Voiceover of John Abraham: “When I was in school my father booked a Gypsy, and his booking number was one. We were supposed to get the first Gypsy but for some strange reason he cancelled the booking. And you know how it is in schooldays when you have a crush on a girl, and you never go out with her.”
Cut to big John standing proudly next to his white Gypsy and patting it affectionately. “This baby is that for me. I have always had a crush on it and never got to ride it. So I had decided that one fine day I am going to have a Gypsy. So here it is.” John points to his new love. “Now I am the proud owner of a Gypsy.”
Why did John wait so long to buy a Gypsy? His first car was a Tata Sierra and not a Gypsy. Why?
“I am glad you asked that. I was always under the impression that the Gypsy was out of production. It was only when I visited Maruti dealer Vitesse that I came to know that the Gypsy was still in production.”
But getting a Gypsy is no fun if you don’t mark your individual stamp on it. So John and Autocar India came together to carry out a few modifications to the vehicle. A bull bar, a new canopy, new seats, a new steering wheel and most importantly new tyres. “Autocar has advised me on my cars. On the Gypsy specifically, Autocar and Farokh Framroze of Vitesse have been very helpful. Hormazd advised me not to go in for ultra-wide tyres as they would make the unassisted steering even harder.”
The Gypsy is not perfect though. John, having got used to power steering, was in for a shock when he first got his hands on the unassisted steering of his new Gypsy. In John-style, he declares, “It was like a wild horse.” John attributes his bulging biceps to the workout the steering gives him, “This is my secret workout regime. When people ask me where I get my arms from, it’s this,” he quips.
Now John is thinking of fitting a larger steering on his Gypsy. He is also toying with the idea of retrofitting a power-steering kit on the car. But then an unassisted steering gives better feedback. It’s a tough call to make.
John’s question in Ask Autocar Anything: “The Gypsy is really bumpy. Can I make it softer or do I have to live with it?”
The AAA answer: “That’s easily done. The leaf springs at the back need slight alteration. Or you can change the springs. But if you do that, you can’t really load it up.” John Abraham files away the info in his head in a folder titled Gypsy Mods.Famous movie star. Humble Gypsy. Isn’t that a clash in image? “That’s the way I live, and nothing can change that. This is me. I am an outdoor guy. I am adventurous.” In fact, the famous filmstar harbours a secret wish. Motorsport.“I’d love to do it. I want you guys to guide me.” Now that John has a Gypsy, he wants to do the Raid de Himalaya. “I know how tough it is. I will go through the entire thing.” John Abraham in the driver’s seat. Autocar India in the navigator’s. Wait for this story in a future issue of this magazine. Disclaimer: Depending on John’s shooting schedule. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Does John really use the Gypsy everyday?
“Let me tell you my routine. When I go for my shoots in the morning, I use the Q7. When I get back home in the evenings, I use the Gypsy to move around Bandra. And then at night I take out my baby, my bike, the R1.” John and bikes are like Hitler and his moustache. You can’t imagine John without a bike. He is a biker. He has owned and ridden them all. From his first bike, a Yamaha RD350 to a Bullet to the Kawasaki ZX11. And now the brand ambassador of Yamaha rides an R1.
John has an important message for all bikers. “Everyone knows I like bikes. And I love riding them, and riding them well. But what I love most is riding safely. I want to tell you about an accident I had that made me realise the importance of wearing a helmet and protective gear. I was riding my bike and suddenly someone came in my way — I swerved and fell. My head hit the sidewalk, but thankfully I was wearing a helmet and nothing happened. I was also wearing a biking jacket that completely tore from one side, but saved me from further injuries. I was not wearing my riding boots that day, but my sneakers. The footpeg speared my foot, tore all my nerves, broke the bones and I could see an inch and half into my foot. So I want to tell all youngsters that every time you ride, please wear your helmet and have your riding gear on. And if you are in a car, please wear your seatbelt. Or you are dead.”
End of story. John Abraham drives off into the sunset.