Sunday, October 21, 2012
There is a Harley's Road in Chennai, but it is in danger of losing its identity. The Chennai dealership of Harley-Davidson was opened in late 2011. It has been quite low key (as in, "How come I didn't know about it for so long?!"), but then, the other luxury automobile brands in Chennai - Porsche, Jaguar - have also been low key. Harley has its showroom in Wallace Garden. I am sure this dealership has met its sales targets for the year; there seem to be quite a few Harleys roaring around Chennai.
Roaring is probably the wrong word to use. This was a company that tried to trademark the sound of its machines. In 1981, Harley-Davidson was 'rescued', after a dozen years of being a division of AMF through a management buy-out led by Vaughn Beals. Soon after that, the company tried to claim that the 'potato-potato-potato' sound of its engines was unique and distinctive. A long and tedious application process was contested at every stage by other motorcycle makers; at the turn of the millenium, the company dropped the application, with a spokesperson saying "...Harley-Davidson owners from around the world ... told me repeatedly that there is nothing like the sound of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle..."
In India, that sound is spread through the eight dealerships that Harley has. (No, make that nine, for the dealership at Kochi opens today). This one at Chennai is called the Coromandel Harley-Davidson. I am afraid to go any closer, for I always think of Harley-Davidson as the 'Belle dame sans merci'. I am enthralled enough, as it is!