Suzuki Bolan that we see, is actually the seventh generation of Suzuki Carry ST-90 model that was produced internationally between 1979 and 1985. By 1985 it was replaced by the eight generation DA-71 Carry, however in Pakistan Pak Suzuki still assembles the ST-90 Carry aka Bolan, which in 2020 has completed 41 years of its production life in our country.
Apart from a fuel injected engine & some cosmetic changes to the front-end of the vehicle, Bolan remains almost entirely unchanged. Sometimes you just don’t get an idea how old the Bolan really is. To do so here are a few ways to get a true idea of its age:
Back in the late 70s when the Carry ST-90 was developed, telephonic conversations were made through phones with rotary dialers. Fast forward 41 years and what we have now are ultra modern smart phones being used as a primary mode of communication. The ST-90 Bolan however, remains quite the same.
TV sets back then were either floor-standing console models or tabletop versions nearly as bulky and heavy & remained firmly anchored in one place. Compare these with the modern LED Smart TV sets with integrated 3d functionality & you would know how far the technology has excelled, but then again if you look at the ST-90 Bolan, things will still look like its 1970s.
Radio & Cassette Players
And there were radio cassette players, which were used by the people to either listen to radio transmission which was as popular as the TV broadcast, as well as to listen to their favorite music via those nostalgic magnetic tape cassettes. Today we use modern iPods and Mp3 players instead of those cassette players but still use an ST-90 Bolan to move around!
1979 was the year when the Carry ST-90 was developed, and it was the same year when the Bollywood diva Bipasha Basu was born. Looking at her picture on the left and comparing that with the right, one may realize how time can take its toll. She has grown from an infant to a teenager, to a rising star & now probably at the twilight of her career, however the ST-90 Bolan is going strong as ever. A bulk load of Rozgar Scheme vehicles delivered, is a bigger achievement than any Bipasha’s box office hit!
PM Nawaz Shareef
Let’s talk more local here. During the 70s Mian Nawaz Shareef was in his prime, but not a minister off course.. He is now the Prime Minister of our country for the third time and one can see obvious difference between the Nawaz Shareef of the 70 vs PM Nawaz Shareef of today, but there is not much difference between the ST-90 Carry of that era vs the Bolan of today.
1979 was the year when 1 paisa coin was ceased in Pakistan. At that time currency in paisa was widely used in the country. One could buy things in 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 paisa denominations while 1 Rupee was considered as a ‘big amount’. Having been available in ‘that era’ when even 1 paisa coin had a ‘value’, the ST-90 Bolan is available for PKR 1.1 million today.
Enough about these things, let’s get back to cars. In 1979 Toyota Corolla 3rd generation was available in the market. Fast forward 41 years, the 11th generation Corolla rules our roads. Do you think you can expect Indus Motors to sell the 3rd generation Corolla today at a price equivalent to that of an 11th generation Super ECT Corolla Gli? Off course not, but Pak Suzuki can, and they are doing just that since 41 years!
Back then the 2nd generation Civic was available in the country. Now we have the 10th generation Civic in Pakistan, one can easily compare how much Honda Civic has evolved during all these years, versus the evolution of Pak Suzuki’s ST-90 Bolan. The difference is obvious!
The M1 coupe was hand-built between 1978 and 1981 under the motorsport division of BMW. It was the first mid-engined BMW to be mass-produced. With a twin-cam 3.5 liter six-cylinder petrol engine producing 273 hp, it reached a top speed of 260 km/h. Today BMW develops the i8, which is a plug-in hybrid sports car equipped with a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The BMW i8 can go from 0–100 km/h in 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 250 km/h.
Automakers around the world are working on alternate energy. Hybrids & pure electric vehicles are vastly tested & developed these days. Technologies like autonomous driving, self parking and autonomous emergency braking are being implemented. However, on the contrary we are still stuck with the likes of ST-90 Bolan.
In this day and age the Bolan misses out plenty of basic stuff like defroster/ heater, there is no trip meter, no adjustable seats, no seat-belts, no multi-speed intermittent wipers, no key lock at the passenger door & no rear windshield wiper etc. When around the world, safety comes first, the Bolan comes without a collapsible steering column, there are no reinforced side protection beams, the chassis isn’t high rigidity crash resistant, there are no ABS brakes nor does it offer airbags to its occupants.
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For how many more years Suzuki will keep selling us the Bolan is unknown, however the company should seriously work to improve the vehicle considering the above mentioned points if a replacement isn’t in their priority list. Joint ventures across the world are able to acquire the rights of a vehicle in 4-5 years and develop further on their own. Pak Suzuki after 3 decades are still the assemblers of the ST-90 Bolan, they are yet to acquire the Intellectual Property Rights of the said vehicle. This is the 21st century; we just cannot feel proud of a Euro-II emblem and cannot associate the progress of our auto industry with assembling 37 year old cars from the history. It is time to try & catch up to the world..
A 3d animation professional with over 20 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations & production facilities of Pakistan, an avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver writings to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com