02 August, 2021

Ever Wondered Why Taarzan Fell?

The story of Dilip Chhabria—the car designer whose souped-up styling had the affections of the Bollywood Khans and other Indian elite—comes unspooled like a truck going downhill.

Ever Wondered Why Taarzan Fell?

When he leapt into the nation’s automobile scene with his custom cars, he was revving up a dream that comes with grand ambition. Tethered to low torque and monotonous looks that invited little visual traction—the plain and careworn Ambys, Padminis and first-gen Marutis—the Indian automotive enthusiast saddled up for the souped-up ride Dilip Chhabria, the founder of DC Designs, promised. A commerce graduate who studied car designs in Pasadena, California, he poured passion into his craft and marketed well: A remodeled Maruti Gypsy, seductively initialed BTS (Better Than Sex), was the earliest eye candy from his assembly line. What he crank-started in the 1990s caught on like Viagra and he was sought out over the years by rich celebs—the pimped-up vanity vans of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan  are fine examples—and the moneyed middle-class. But the road often travelled throws up surprises and that proved prescient. Accused of fraud, Chhabria was arrested last December.

His downfall began with his ambitious journey from styling to...

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