Five things you didn't know about the Tata Sierra and Estate
The Tata Sierra and the Tata Estate were some of the coolest cars on our roads back in the nineties and the early 2000s, and we have spoken about them in-depth in our Gone But Not Forgotten video which you can check out on our YouTube channel. If you are a fan of the Sierra and the Tata Estate however, here are the top five cool facts that you didn’t know know about the Tata Estate.
The Tata Sierra and Estate were not Tata’s first attempt at making a car
Tata Motors – or TELCO (Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company) as it was in those days – took a stab at developing a small car in-house in 1986. This effort was following TELCO’s unsuccessful JV with Honda, and the small car was a skunkworks effort made using two Honda Acty pickup trucks (acquired from a State Trading Corporation auction) and parts lying in stock from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Coupled with off-the shelf steering, suspension and brake components from a Maruti 800, a test mule built based on the drawings and overall dimensions of the Honda City from a British automotive magazine. The mule was up and running in two months, but this secret project was ultimately shelved. Instead, we got the Tata Sierra and the Tata Estate, which would soon be followed by the Tata Indica, which was India’s first indigenously developed car.
The Sierra and the Estate were India’s first SUV and Estate models
The craze for SUVs today is unparalleled, but the first Indian SUV that hit our roads was the Tata Sierra. Tata Motors did not just stop there however, and their SUV lineup only got stronger with the likes of the Tata Safari and the Safari Storme, the Sumo, the Tata Harrier and the Tata Nexon. And as we saw at the Auto Expo, the Sierra nameplate is even making a comeback in EV form by 2025. The Tata Estate on the other hand was the first Indian car with the estate body style. Tata did make another stab at the estate body style with the Indigo Marina, but sadly, this body style has never caught on in popularity in India.
The styling of the Tata Sierra and Estate was inspired by Ford & Mercedes
What made the Sierra and the Estate so cool back in the day was of course their styling, which was no surprise considering the cars that they gained their design inspiration from. The Sierra three-door with the glasshouse at the back was inspired by the Chevy Blazer and the second-gen Ford Bronco SUVs, while the Estate took a leaf out of the book of Mercedes-Benz. The Tata Estate’s styling is inspired by that of the W124 estate, and while it didn’t look as cool as the Sierra, it translated to loads of space inside the cabin.
The Tata Estate was used by diplomats in the G15 summit
In 1994, the G15 Summit took place in Delhi and the Tata Estate was the government’s vehicle of choice to ferry dignitaries during the event. These Tata Estates were made specially off the line by an after-sales service team for the event and maintained ‘with dedication and a prayer’, as told by BVR Subbu, the former president of Hyundai India who was then working at Tata Motors.
Ever heard of the Tata Gurkha?
No no, this is not in any relation with the Force Gurkha, but rather this was one of the several names that the Tata Sierra was exported under to global markets. These names included the Telco Sport and the Tata Sport, and it was the demand from export markets that forced Tata Motors to introduce a 4x4-equipped version of the Sierra.