Innovator Dilip Chhabria inspires MIT Students on Car Designing
Dilip Chhabria, founder of DC Design – a well-known designer and innovator shared his life journey, career in modifying cars and success story with the students of Manipal University, in a ‘Fireside Chat’ with him, organized by The Think Tank of Manipal Institute of Technology-Manipal University.
Manipal: From being extremely shy and introverted as a child, Dilip Chhabria grew up to become a legendary car designer. “Everything we do has to have the wow factor,” DC, as he is popularly known, told a packed hall of students and faculty. Dilip Chhabria, founder of DC Design – a well-known designer and innovator shared his life journey, career in modifying cars and success story with the students of Manipal University, in a ‘Fireside Chat’ with him, organized by The Think Tank of Manipal Institute of Technology-Manipal University. Chhabria did not fight shy of revealing all – his story from early childhood to the present day. The host of the show, Suhas Kaushik, elicited even small details to the cheers from students.
In the two-hour freewheeling talk, Chhabria told the story of how he fashioned his life, despite twists and turns early on. And, how he pursued his passion with dogged determination to become a car designer par excellence. Designing cars and making custom changes to cars is his passion, hobby and work, he said. In a power-point presentation, Chhabria showed some of the models he had designed through the years. In the 22 years of his company’s existence, he has designed over 3,000 cars. “From making accessories to designing a whole car was an ever-present passion in me. So I started DC Design in 1993,” he said.
“My work spoke for itself, and I had a contract from Mahindra & Mahindra to start with and they locked me down for the first two years. Then we never looked back. I drove my own customised car and it sure was a head-turner. Success came early to me and I’ve enjoyed my journey.” His advice to the students: “All of you must have conviction in what you are doing. You have to be knowledgeable about what you are going to do. You have to extrapolate the future with the past and know what the outcome could be. You have to be learned in the profession. You cannot be superfluous.”
“My parents had to paint the house walls several times because I used to draw car pictures on them. I was obsessed with cars and I wasn’t aware there was a career in car designing,” said Dilip Chhabria. “I was very shy, filled with inferiority complex, never liked going to college, but I was pursuing my hobby outside classroom. I had a lot of time for myself since I was shy and it was the genesis of my career. So, people who are shy should feel proud about it,” he said when asked by the moderator to describe his days as a college student. For him, car models were his role models.
Talking about his girlfriend in his college days, Dilip said on a lighter note, “My girlfriend strengthened my inferiority complex by dumping me very fast, which helped me succeed. So guys, if you want to be successful – get dumped.” He continued to add that his ex-girlfriend called him after 25 years and told him that her son loves his car design and is a huge fan. “Then I realized I was not that bad after all. Today, her daughter has become my daughter-in-law,” he said.
After college, he left for US to pursue studies in car design. “I expected to be an entrepreneur but not a car designer since my dad was into manufacturing electrical component. However, he supported my passion and individuality and thus, I kick-started my career in 1993,” he said. His love for cars inspired the names of his children. He named his daughter Minica and son as Bonita. “My son is still angry at me for choosing this name,” he added. Dilip revealed that he soon earned name and fame when DC designed the Bond car, Aston Martin V8 Vantage. “Cars are like moving billboards and they get noticed very easily,”he said. When asked about his favourite design, he said that it’s always the latest one. “It’s like love – you’re always in love with the latest crush.
A brief description of Dilip Chhabria- he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He in a 2015 interview said that found an advertisement in a car magazine and decided to become a car designer. He then studied in the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, USA. After graduating, he worked for General Motors for a while. He returned to India to start a workshop in Marol. His first product was a horn for the Premier Padmini He then established DC Design which initially produced body kits for Indian cars and designed motorcycles.
In 2002, he was hired by the Kinetic Engineering Limited to design a limited edition scooter. In 2006, he tied up with Exim Star of ETA Star Group to form a new company, DC Star. It was set up in Dubai to produce custom cars. In 2009, he designed a concept car for the Coca-Cola Company to promote the energy drink Burn in India. In 2010, he started the DYPDC Center for Automotive Research and Studies with the D. Y. Patil group. In 2011, he designed the REVA NXR electric car for Mahindra & Mahindra. In 2012, Air Works India tied up with Chhabria to design aircraft interiors. In 2013, he was hired by Siddhi Vinayak Logistics to design the buses for their luxury bus service. In 2014, he designed custom luxury buses for Girikand Logistics. In 2015, he launched the DC Avanti.
Submitted by Shirley Mathew- Manipal
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