The Founding Years
Post 2009, we associate nostalgia with the Bajaj Chetak. Never mind that its namesake was the legendary horse of Maha Rana Pratap Singh. Never mind that its design was mostly borrowed from the Italian scooter company, Piaggio. It was the Bajaj Chetak, it was always the first scooter of anyone's life, and it was the sole iconic >representation of the Indian middle-class in the post-Independence era of economic stagnancy.
The Bachraj Trading Corporation Private Limited in 1945 started importing two-wheelers and three-wheelers from international brands. Over the course of the next fifteen years, until early 1960, the company strove to gain license from both, Piaggio and the Government of India to manufacture two-wheelers. Thus was born their first product, the Vespa. The Bajaj Chetak made way to the market in its original form only in the 1970s.
The initial design of the Bajaj Chetak was based on the Piaggio Vespa Sprint. Come 1980, and the Vespa-licenced design was replaced almost entirely by an in-house design, which looked and felt more or less like the original design. During all this time, amid year long waiting lines to own a Chetak, the scooter emerged as a representation of the middle-class in India. Those of my generation recollect the Chetak as our first motorized two-wheeler, because it was just that: the family's first vehicle.
The world has moved on since then, Indian youth even much so. The boys have grown up and moved on to motorbikes, the girls preferring something with more automatic transmission and lighter weight. The nostalgia remains though. At the announcement of the Bajaj Chetak being withdrawn from the Indian market in 2009, a surge of emotions gripped the Indian nation into a synchronized wistfulness to treasure whatever precious memories we had gathered with this scooter during our growing years, whether as a Indian, or as a family. The 'Humara Bajaj' tagline stuck, and it stuck well.