Rakesh Babu's passion for vehicles is in his blood. His father has a workshop near his house in Cherthala of Alappuzha district, where he grew up watching and practising the skills of a mechanic from childhood. His love for vehicles intensified day by day and he assembled a bike, jeep and a few other vehicles, but these were not very successful projects.
However, he has now assembled a small car, in the model of a Volkswagen Beetle with the scrap he got from his father's workshop.
"It's all out of my love for vehicles. In 2009, soon after passing out of my diploma in industrial training, I assembled a motorbike. Later, I also tried to make a jeep. But these were not so successful as I couldn't spend money on them. I was without a job. They were just made out of scrap," Rakesh tells TNM.
After those failed attempts, Rakesh, 29, was discouraged by many from trying out more innovative vehicles from scrap. But he did not quit. He was not able to afford a car, so he decided to create one.
Six months ago, he started work on this car.
"I haven't seen a Volkswagen Beetle in real. I'm not financially stable enough to buy a car, so I thought of making one. Most of its parts are the scrap from my father's workshop. Then I spent less than Rs 40000 on this," he says.
He used the engine of a Suzuki Samurai bike and the tyres of an autorickshaw for the car. Since he couldn't afford a reverse gear, he made one by himself. "The first model I made had to be kickstarted by the pedal. Later, I designed a self start system. This might be the first time that someone's assigning a self start system with a two stroke engine," he says. He designed the body by looking at the pictures of the Beetle.
His car can run at a speed of up to 40 km and has a mileage of 30 km per litre, he claims. However, there are restrictions on using self assembled or modified vehicles. "I cannot use the car on the roads. But, I am looking for opportunities where the car can be displayed, " he says.
Rakesh, who is a mechanic in a private firm, spent time on building the car only after his work hours.
"Since I could spend only a few hours after my regular work, it took around six months to build it. If I had worked on it full-time, it will take less than three months to assemble a similar car," he says.
Now, Rakesh gets many calls asking him to assemble different vehicles. However, since he is using engines and parts of other old vehicles, there are legal restrictions on how he can use his skills for commercial purposes.