When it comes to gloating over the number Ninety that is numerically emblazoned on a four-wheeler, Vivish George is next only to Junie Donlavey, who wanted his cars to wear it every time they entered the fray in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
While the number itself was a point of immense attraction for Junie, Vivish got drawn to it because it sits on a four-wheel drive that he rates very highly — the Land Rover. Vivish was floored by the rugged look and the quiet efficiency of the Land Rover Ninety when he got to drive one (a 1984 model with a 2.5 litre, naturally aspirated diesel engine) owned by his friend Parvez Homi Jokhi.
When Jokhi bought a Land Rover Defender 110, Vivish asked for the Ninety. He kept asking for it until Jokhi agreed. It took Jokhi some time to shake off his attachment for the vehicle. The deep fondness was probably born out of an awareness about its rare place in the Land Rover line. The Ninety belongs to a class of Land Rovers (in production from 1983 to 1990) that were named after their wheelbases (so, you had the Ninety, the One Ten and the 127).
This line was preceded by the Land Rover Series III and followed by the Land Rover Defender both of which are found in plenty. In comparison, the Ninety, One Ten and 127 are thin in number.
First the British Deputy High Commission in Mumbai and then Jokhi and now Vivish have given the 1984 Land Rover Ninety the care it deserves. As Vivish wants the Ninety to accompany him to wherever he goes, he has installed power steering, an air-conditioner and localised the clutch and master brake cylinders and also the fuel pump. For the air-conditioner, corresponding modifications on the dash were carried out.
As he uses the Ninety regularly within the city, it has not been subjected to offroading activities.
“I can’t see her battered,” says Vivish. “I don’t mind a trail. But offroading is off limits!”