Episode 26. Tata Loadbeta/Range Rover Hybrid. B696 HBR. (part 2).

To continue on from where my previous post about the Tata left off, The drive back to BelongaClint on that chilly Saturday morning was fantastic! I had a grin so big that it must've looked like I'd slept with a coathanger in my mouth! It was just awesome, that V8 engine throbbed away under the bonnet of the Tata, the exhaust roared away as I drove. If you couldn't see that bright yellow paintwork from miles away, you knew it was coming, because you could hear it! If anything that exhaust was louder than the bodwork!

The exhaust exited the engine via the manifolds that then went to a 'Y' pipe to join the manifold together to make a single 3" pipe, then it was a single 3" Cherry bomb silencer (if you can call it that!) then it exited the side of the bed! I reckon there couldn't have been more than 8 feet of pipe in the whole exhaust! It was epically loud! My Brother following in his Porsche 944 (from where the above picture was taken) said that it was so loud that he couldn't hear the stereo in his car!

Out on the open road it was fairly loud in the cab, to the point that holding a conversation just wasn't going to happen! However to drive it was pretty good, It handled pretty good, I mean it was no sports car, but it handled a lot better than it did when it had a Range Rover body on it, but of course with the Tata body on it, the whole thing weighed less than half what it weighed when it was a Range Rover. It was really good fun to drive, it wasn't really any faster than it was when it was a Range Rover, but even with the fairly tired low compression V8 it still accelerated very very well, and with the noise from the exhaust it really did give the feeling that you were accelerating faster than you actually were. Although, as the speedo never worked I never really knew how fast I was going!

I never built it to be a show truck, I just wanted it as a bit of a toy for me to have a bit of a laugh with. However with Wheels Day just a couple of weeks away when I collected it, I decided that I would tuck it away for a couple of weeks, and then use it after the first show of the season. My feeling was that they probably wouldn't let me onto the show field in it, but it would look pretty cool parked in the car park anyway.

I was, as usual wrong. As we drove along the road to get to the show I was directed onto the field with the good stuff! Fantastic... I was in! I've been to loads of cars shows over the years, but I'd never actually been in one before! Who would've thought that a pick up made in India, then refined (if you can call it that) in Bournemouth would find it's way onto a show field at a car show! For me it was an odd experience, seeing other people photographing your car, having people come up to me and want to talk about my car, it was strange. But for the most part people liked it. But from there on in I was planning to use it as often as possible for my own driving and off roading pleasure.

If there was one downside to owning a pick up then it is this. If you have a pick up, or for that matter a van, then suddenly everyone has a job for you. Initially I would turn people down buy saying that it's not built to carry loads, it's just built for fun. But people got pretty funny about that, and they couldn't understand why I was reluctant to help them.

My response to these people was quite simply, if you need stuff picking up, or collecting, or dumping, why don't you get yourself a pick up? This was usually met with, well I don't want a pick up, I don't need one. To which I would respond, there you go then, haul your own rubbish in your own car!

This, believe it or not did not go down well! People were expecting me to help them, using my pick up with my petrol, for nothing, and when I said no, I was being unreasonable! I was even starting to get called awkward at work because I wouldn't use my toy for hauling stuff for work, and I was the unreasonable one!!

The trouble was, that I would haul my own stuff, people would see that, and then they'd expect me to haul stuff for them, and I'd say no, because its my toy and I did it for me to drive for fun, and not to pick stuff up in. They would then say, Oh yeah, but I saw it hauling stuff the other day, so why won't you haul stuff for me? Trouble was, having a very bright yellow truck with an extremely loud exhaust meant I had trouble being able to deny it was me!

In the end I said I'd haul stuff for a couple of people, and that sort of opened the flood gates. The more people I picked stuff up for, the more people wanted me to pick stuff up for them! It was ridiculous, but at one point had it not been gulping down gallons of petrol at an alarming rate, I could've almost made a living from picking stuff up for folk, except that V8's thirst meant every trip cost me more than I'd earned!

But that thing had just about everything thrown into the bed. Scrap iron, scrap aluminium, general rubbish, dirt, logs, asbestos (Yep thats the picture with the red bags in the back!) and one time, when my Uncle was renovating a house I even made a couple of trips carrying a couple of tonnes of wet concrete at a time!

That was a chuckle I can tell you! Nearly two tonnes of wet concrete slopping around in the bed like snot in a kids mouth as I drove across a wet and muddy site! But the thing was, it never missed a beat. There never seemed to be an issue, no matter how much weight was in the back, no matter what the terrain I was crossing, it just did it with ease. 

Wind, snow, rain, and even sun occasionally, no matter what the weather, jump in, turn the key, and it would burble into life and off we'd go! In short it was awesome!

Infact it was so awesome that even after I had decided that I needed to have a Dodge Dakota I continued to drive the Tata as much as possible and eventually sold the Dakota before even thinkning about selling the Tata.

No matter where I drove it I never got it stuck, which I'm guessing was probably due to it being so light. Don't get me wrong, it would slide around on the wet mud, and woukld end up travelling slowly whilst the wheels spun furiously throwing mud all across the body, and high into the air, but to actually grind to a halt and get stuck in the mud? It did not!

Even on the wet, and very soft sand on the beach at Swansea it refused to get stuck, which was just as well really as I would've felt a right nobber having to call someone up to pull me off the beach. My guess is that their first question would've been, why are you driving on the beach?

I would've answered, why would you not want to drive on the beach! But as I drove up and down, splashing through the surf which probably did nothing for the rust preventative properties of either the Tata body, or more importantly the Range Rover chassis. It was fine, even when I took it probably too far into the sea!

In short this was an incredibly cabeable little truck, good fun to own and drive, no matter what the terrain, or how irritated I was by hauling other peoples crap! I even thought with it's stumpy bed it looked pretty good too, and I'll probably never stop thinking about it, and wondering where it is now. I had some great times with this little thing, driving the tracks, driving the roads, driving through the woods, doing little jumps,  driving on the beach. It was an excellent little toy, and I hope whoever owns it now is having as much fun with it as I did. But the question is would I want it back?

Well if I'm honest, No, probably not. I loved it and I had a good time with it, but my feeling is that I've done that truck now, and going back to it would be like going back to an old girlfriend, you remember the good times, but forget the bad, but the bad will still be there, and will soon be uncovered as you get to know her again! Plus, I learned a lot from this truck, and I learned what could've been done a better way. Don't get me wrong, it was built well, but if I were doing it again I would do things differently, for example instead of shortening the bed, I would keep a full length bed, and move the wheel arches instead. Also I'd probably have a full length exhaust, many years after these photos were taken I've still got tinitus! Lastly, I'd probably use a different chassis and drive train doner. The Range Rover was excellent, excellent, but as awesome as the V8 was, it was very thirsty, and it didn't like to swim if the river was too deep! Plus ofcourse I still have the Tata pick up with a three inch roof chop, a coat of matte black paint, red painted steel wheels, and flames up the bodywork in a hotrod stylie itch to scratch! So maybe I should be looking out for another Tata wifebeta erm, Loadbeta to use whilst there's still a few left about instead of reminiscing over past fabulous times with this one!