When Babbar Singh, an automobile mechanic, innovated a mini jeep for his friend Shakti Kumar, he thought it would be a one-time thing.
The Punjab native built the vehicle, which looks like a jeep but has the working mechanism of a scooter, in 2012 for his disabled friend.
But soon enough, orders began pouring in from across the state.
“A few years ago, Shakti reached out to me saying he wishes to own and ride a jeep so that he can travel with his family. But the limitations of his physique won’t let him drive a normal one,” recalls Babbar in conversation with The Better India.
“He asked me to build a buggy. He is experienced in riding a scooter, so I thought, why not design a jeep that works the same as a two-wheeler?” he adds.
In the following months, the 66-year-old, who runs a small mechanic shop in Mansa, began building the jeep.
Babbar found automobiles interesting right from his childhood — especially jeeps, he says.
“It started when a relative visited our house in his big gypsy. I was captivated by its design. I wanted to design a similar but smaller version of it some time in the future. My friend, in fact, came with a much-needed push, which took me back to my dream,” he says.
“I worked on the machine after completing my work at the shop, or during my free time,” he explains.
Babbar says he copied the model of a normal jeep and built a smaller version of it.
He installed a 100 cc motor of a scooter and the steering of a Maruti 800 car. No other complicated equipment was used, so as to make the ride as easy as a scooter trip, he says.
The jeep, which runs on an automatic engine, was designed so that four people could travel comfortably. Babbar says that it cost around Rs 70,000 to complete the whole process of his first vehicle of this type.
It was only after successfully building the jeep that he understood that there are many people like Shakti, who desire to drive a four-wheeler to commute much easier.
Shakti, the inspiration behind the invention, was so satisfied with the product that he uses it even today, Babbar says.
So far, he has built 15 such jeeps, all for disabled individuals. “The design is made in such a way that there are no gears, and all major settings come near the steering itself. This is helpful for everyone like my friend, who has a disability related to their lower body,” says the innovator.
Jasbir Singh, among those who bought Babbar’s invention says, “I was born disabled with two non-functional legs. Never in my life have I imagined driving a four-wheeler. I came to know about this invention through a relative, and for the past eight years, I have been driving the jeep designed by Babbar bhai. It is very comfortable, also, and so cheap compared to other vehicles.”
Today, the sexagenarian receives orders from across Punjab, as well as Haryana. As of now, each vehicle costs between Rs 60,000 and Rs 80,000.
“Despite my childhood dream to build a vehicle of my own, I was 56 years old when it was fulfilled. The thought that my innovation is making the lives of the disabled a little easier than before, brings me joy. They already face several troubles. I will continue the work as long as I’m healthy and will be elated to share my methods with passionate mechanics, if they are interested” he says.
Interested in his innovation? Contact +91 9041827003.
Read this story in Hindi here.
Edited by Divya Sethu; All photo credits: Babbar Singh