Indian Car Owner Looks Back On A Decade Driving In Reverse

From the “if life gives you lemons” file comes this heartwarming (and neck-twisting) tale of a man who made the best of a bad situation when his car wouldn't shift out of reverse gear.

Fiat-owner Harpeet Devi of Bathinda, a smallish city in the Indian state of Punjab, couldn't have been pleased when he found his trusty Fiat (actually a Premier Padmini, a license-built copy of the venerable Fiat 1100) refused to shift into any of its forward gears. Reverse worked just fine, however. Since Devi was outside of town, short of rupees and far from the nearest garage, he figured he'd just back up all the way home.

For whatever reasons – cost, competence or convenience come to mind – Devi decided to nix fixing the former Fiat and go with the flow, cruising in and around Bathinda backwards. He quickly found out his paradoxical Padmini's reverse gear ratio discouraged driving at speed, so he did what anyone in his position would do: re-engineer (or more appropriately, reverse-engineer) the transmission to have FOUR reverse gears and a single forward gear. Shifting into the new “high” reverse gear now gives the vehicle a top speed of 50 mph.

By this point, Devi felt he was a better at driving backwards than forwards, if one can imagine that, and so he petitioned the local authorities for their approval. Surprisingly, they acceded providing he make several safety modifications such as installing rear-facing headlights and a second-hand ambulance siren. As driving in reverse would seem to be an accident waiting to happen, the latter is simply a shining example of proactive thinking.

Devi has also made a few mods of his own; these being of the cosmetic variety. The Padmini now sports a plethora of decals advertising Gurnam Motor Workshop (possibly a sponsor) and something called the “Back Gear Driving Academy”... Great Scott, is Devi training other drivers to follow (lead, whatever) in his wayward footsteps??

The vehicle also proudly displays the flag of India, an email address (presumably Devi's), and block tri-tone letters that declare Devi to be the WORLD BACK GEAR CHAMPIAN. Yes, “CHAMPIAN”, but don't stop him, he's on a roll (in reverse).

Unfortunately though perhaps predictably, Devi has found his silver lining comes with a dark cloud: a decade of neck and back twisting required to drive backwards has left Devi saddled with chronic neck and back problems. If only there was some way he could, er, reverse his aches and pains. While you (and Devi) mull that one over, check out this incredible video from Barcroft Cars showing Devi in re-action. (via World Car Fans, images via CarBuzz)