Meet the Mustang Man: Sooraj Bhalla
“I always held a mystical bond with cars, as my dad owned a workshop. My obsession with the vehicles has influenced almost every sphere of my life.”- Sooraj Bhalla, an ace car designer and Automobile Engineer from Mumbai. He studied engineering in Melbourne, but came right back to his homeland, India to innovate, built and design cars here.
The Root Of His Obsession With The Cars
In his early childhood, Sooraj would spend a lot of time at his dad’s workshop just witnessing cars. He always loved messing with the engine, carborator, gearbox and had a keen interest in designing cars. However, he completed his academics and wanted to get the right direction to move way forward in automobiles. His dad got him hired as an intern at a well known workshop in Pune where he used to work on cars like Mercedes, BMW, Porche, Jaguar, etc. He got so involved in designing and understanding the inner workings of the car that he used to work for 13-14 hours a day despite being an intern. He got an amazing level of experience there.
All The Way To Melbourne And Back
After completing his internship tenure of eight months in Pune, Sooraj was stuck on 'now, what next?' He enquired about a few courses in Mumbai, but they all were really primitive in the 90’s. Sooraj says, “When I wanted to start my career in automobile engineering. I went to different schools, but the sad part about those schools and colleges back in the days was, the technology that they were teaching you was like from the 1960's. So they were teaching you about the engines of a Fiat, or an ambassador.” Through one of his friends, he came to know that there are some really great automobile courses in the US and Australia and Bhalla was fortunate enough to get admitted in a college in Melbourne, Australia. Bhalla says, ‘It was the right place for me to explore my passion, it was like a temple of knowledge in Automobiles.’ He completed his two-year course in Melbourne but despite of working in Melbourne earning a fat salary, Sooraj came back to India because he aimed to get India on the global map of automobile engineering. “So, a lot of engineers, if you would have noticed, were always living in those countries, they never wanted to come back to India. But I chose to come back to India.” Said Sooraj.
Building The Most Unique Mustang
As a kid, Sooraj was a mental fan of the Ford Mustang. However, the information he was getting about the car was “Impossible” and hi could see his dream completely drop down. But, he was never in the league of quitters. He kept trying and searching the car. Luckily, one fine day, he got a call from a classic car collector saying ‘Sooraj! There is one Mustang in Film City, but you've to understand that it's not a started car, it's a scrap. So, if you're ready go check it out.’ Sooraj went there and saw this car with hundreds of classic vintage cars just sacked on top of each other and once he brought the car to the workshop, it took 7-8 days just to clean the dirt on the car because it was abandoned for like twenty years. Sooraj, along with his co workers started making the list of the imports because they could not get anything of this car in India. So, they were importing things from the states and doing the bodywork, the mechanical work, the engine work, cooling systems, the breaks, the suspensions. So, everything put together importing almost 100-200 parts to get this car running. Sooraj says, “This car was my dream because if I had to establish myself in Mumbai, then I had to create this diamond.” Finally the car was out and it received immense amount of love and positive energy. Over the years, Bhalla has designed innumerous contessas, converted them from a four door to a two door car. He has also designed cars for B-town actors like Hrithik Roshan, Vivek Oberoi and Abhishek Bachchan.
Sooraj’s Way Forward
“My future plans of projects are where I am building not cars this time, it's going to be more of toys.” Sooraj said. There's a successful toy happening in the US called the 'Tribe'. it has got one wheel ahead and two formula one tyres behind. The best part about these tribes are that you can drift. Speaking about evolution, Sooraj says, “I think every engineer is aiming for evolution. It's just the matter of how much it gets connected with people. And also, there's so much of traffic over here that cars are no more fun in the city. So, I think people should have an alternative now. We should get electric cycles, electric motorcycles, and electric bike and keep our environment relaxed.”