This post started as one on the Reliant Kitten but, well—I guess the cat's out of the bag—the Sipani Montana is just a Kitten with two extra doors. That was assembled in India.
To make matters more hilarious, the Montana evolved from the 3-door Sipani Dolphin, which was (nearly) identical to the Kitten. Some sources say that because its competition was even more slow, the Dolphin was quite the hot hatch in its day. In India.
At first glance, my eyes saw it as a Subaru Justy that'd been beefed-up by Brazil's Gurgel…or something like that. Introduced in 1987, it was a bit behind the times in terms of design by the late '80s, but buyers could expect a Reliant 848-cc 4-cylinder engine with 41 horsepower. A Mitsubishi-sourced diesel (intended for a mini tractor) was available later in its run, and the car was eventually succeeded by the Montana D1 in 1991—a Daihatsu Charade in disguise.
You can imagine how nice of a car it was if the Charade was an improvement…
It may seem trivial to write about a car like this, an old design that was shipped off to the Third World once its useful life was over in the First. But, as they say about how 99% of all life that has existed on earth is now extinct, it's a broadly true statement in the car world as well. The vehicles we enjoy today are less diverse and more similar than they have been, ever.
The Montana may not have won the Mille Miglia or set a world endurance record. But the little fibreglass 5-door existed, being built in a country that was (and still is) trying to find its legs. That we have a few thousand of them around is a pretty big achievement—if you don't think so, try setting up your own manufacturing venture.
Is it worthy of praise? By our standards, probably not. But I think it's cool it was made in the first place.