The Jabalpur Car (Part II)

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The Gun Carriage Factory, located in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, is the oldest ordnance factory in India. Started by the British in 1904, this factory received its first order in 1905 to produce transport carts for British Army soldiers. As the factory expanded with more machinery, the factory started producing steam road rollers, steam engine components, oil pressing rollers, etc.

The Gun Carriage Factory (later renamed the GCF) grew to be one of the most important units for the Indian government, producing all types of gun carriages and vehicles and supplying them to all military and paramilitary forces. This factory (later) became famous with its acronym JONGA, or Jabalpur Ordnance and Guncarriage Assembly, when it produced the Nissan Patrol P60 for many years.

Mathuradas Gupta, or Mr. M.D. Gupta, was a young engineer at the Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), who climbed up the ladder of hierarchy at a fast pace because of his astute mechanical engineering skills as well as his love for automobiles. He developed better working processes and introduced new ideas to increase production. He soon rose to take the position of Chief Engineer, which was a very senior position in the fifties.

Because of his knowledge, the Government of India appointed him to form a panel and locate a replacement model for the British made Leyland Hippo that was not suited for the Indian terrain and the Ford CMP (Canadian Military Pattern), which was proven but had become outdated.Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg AG, or MAN’s first interaction with India was way back in 1936, when one of the field representatives came here to sell their popular truck Typ S1H6 model. But that didn’t pave much for results, as he could sell only six trucks that he brought along to the then British Indian Army. But MAN had been pursuing this all along and asked the Government of India to place a trial order for testing.

Gupta and his team also found that the truck model MAN 415 (L1 AR) would be ideal for India. A trial order was given and the first batch of trucks with both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations arrived. The trucks were deputed to various locations for the field trials, and they passed all the tests convincingly. Gupta himself would go on these trips.