The tough companion

The tough companion

The tough companion
Sreenivasan MP always knew his passion lay in wildlife conservation. And he also knew that a strong and sturdy Willys CJ3B could be the best vehicle to realise his dreams. 

Sreenivasan began trekking in the wild after completing his engineering. He simultaneously began his search for the Willys. His search took him to north Karnataka where he found a 1954 Willys CJ3B lying in shambles. 

“The vehicle belonged to a man who was bed-ridden and this was his only possession. He was keen to sell it to someone who would take care of it and I happened to be the lucky one who  got it,” he recalls. He also adds, “I didn’t mind that the vehicle was in a bad shape, I was glad that I finally bought the exact model that I was looking for.” 

It has been a little over nine years since he bought the Willys CJ3B. “I had to restore the vehicle from scratch. I found a mechanic from Sirsi specialising in Willys and together, we rebuilt the vehicle with new metal sheets,” he explains. Sreenivasan says that most of the vehicle was eaten away and rusted. “I was very particular that the Willys must be painted military green, a rare colour to find those days. It is said that only people in the Army could paint their vehicles in green. I was a little apprehensive at first whether a civilian could use this green but later I found out that there were no such restrictions,” he says.  
 
Any true collector of vintage vehicles will be well-versed with the vehicle and its working, believes Sreenivasan. “If there’s anything wrong with the vehicle, then I would be the first to spot it and tell the mechanic on what has to be done rather than completely leave it in the hands of the mechanic,” he says.  Willys has some special features that add to its charm. It has something called the Winch which are cylindrical steel cables used to draw the vehicle if it gets stuck. “Another unique feature is the differential lock system wherein the vehicle will move even if one of its wheel is free and the other is on the road,” he adds. The Willys also has a strong front and back bumper that protects it from any damage. 

Sreenivasan says he is happy driving on Bengaluru roads because he has noticed fellow passengers giving way instead of trying to overtake the vehicle. “People know that old vehicles don’t have the ability to apply sudden brakes like the modern ones do. So, not only do people maintain a certain distance but easily let you pass,” he elaborates. 

 Sreenivasan and his wife Poornima have travelled in the jeep through the roughest of roads and even to places where there have been no human habitation.  “We’ve driven till Uttarkhand, villages near Delhi, Munnar in Kerala and Goa, in addition to a few places across Karnataka,” he says. Looking back, Sreenivasan says he is glad that has been able to fulfill two of his most treasured childhood passions — wildlife conservation and the Willys. “I was always fascinated with old cars and I had laid my eyes on Willys when I was in college. Today, I‘ve not only fulfilled my dream but I also guide a lot of people to buying the same vehicle,” he says.

(Sreenivasan can be contacted on 94483853609448385360)


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