First Look: Indica Silhouette
24 Apr 2006
Want to drive Porsche 911 owners round the bend? Want to make them think they have entered a parallel universe? The Indica Silhouette will not only fill the rear view mirrors of your favourite Porsche and stay with it on a race track, but it also has the ability to pull out from its slipstream and rocket past. Those of you who visited the Auto Expo or read the show report will be familiar with the Indica Silhouette. Not just a show car with a hollow shell, this actually is the real thing — a built-for-the-track racing machine. How quick is it? The Silhouette is reputed to be three seconds quicker around certain circuits compared to Porsche’s GT3! Ah, got your attention, didn’t I?
But what’s under that outlandish skin, those absurdly wide flares and those Tonka Truck-size wheels? No 1.4-litre motor, no grey plastic instrument panel, no high-mounted steering wheel...nothing familiar resides here. Only the name holds a clue — a racing car with the silhouette of an econobox. The story starts with ex-racer J Anand of Coimbatore and his family outfit Jayem Auto. Tech partners with Tata, Jayem shared its expertise in producing racing machines with them. Senior vice president Rajiv Dube was enthused by the concept and the result is the Silhouette. For some time now, Jayem has been producing a similar race car that has a fiberglass Renault Megane body strapped to it. Produced for the French Supertourisme series, the car is produced in technical collaboration with French race car manufacturer, Solution F. The series includes cars like the new Opel Astra, Fiat Punto and others. All the cars are identical under the skin. Tata Racing has plans of running an Indica in the European series, with, hopefully, Indian drivers running along with the pack.
Open the rear door of the Indica, and instead of Ratan Tata’s Ambassador-wide and comfortable rear seat, sits a huge ominous lump of metal. Drastic-looking plumbing, heavy duty hosing, masses of grey alloy all fastened securely between chrome moly spaceframe tubes and a veritable nest of other supports. The motor is a substantial 3500cc all-alloy racing engine that pushes out over 330bhp. For an 850kg car, that is more than enough. Six sequential gears send power to the rear wheels and the driver gets paddle shifters. The electronics for this are also sourced from Coimbatore by Jayem.
The rest of the design too is as no-compromise as a single seater. The huge engine mounting and the engine itself is a stressed member within the chassis, the rear springs are horizontally mounted and the push rod activated double wishbones look straight off a Formula car. Built in aluminium, these arms are massive in length and mounted far inboard compared to a regular car. Also part of the package are a limited slip diff and six piston caliper Brembo discs. Jayem fabricates the entire spaceframe in India. If it drives as good as it looks, this will really be something. Can’t wait to get behind the wheel.