There’s a particular type of male who when in possession of a vehicle strives to make it the most outstanding machine on the road for better or for worse. This generally involves painting obnoxiously loud colors onto their cars, which have been fitted with even more obnoxiously loud speakers. The result is a visual and audible horror show only appreciated by those with a similar mindset.

And then we have Harpeet Devi of India who has reached new heights of annoying car customization. He had his transmission customized to have four speeds in reverse and only one speed forward so he can drive backwards everywhere he goes.

■ A “champian” is born

The legend of Harpeet Devi begins in 2003 when his car (possibly a Fiat 1100 or Hindustan Ambassador by the looks of it) got stuck in reverse on the outskirts of Bathinda, Punjab where he resides. Without any money for a tow or repair he decided to just keep going in reverse all the way home.

From there, in an ultimate act of procrastination, he just kept driving in reverse rather than look into repairing it himself. As time when by he got more comfortable at driving in such a way, such that when he finally did get the money for repairs he spent it on the reverse gear customization instead.

He also got some spiffy decals declaring himself the “World Back Gear Champian.” At first I wasn’t quite sure what a champian was so I looked it up.

champian (plural champians)

Variant form of champaign.

1. A plain; a flat expanse of land; a champaign.
2. A species of landscape that is flat and open.
3. The level open countryside, as distinct from the mountains, forests or towns.
4. (agriculture) common land; land that is not enclosed
5. Someone who farms land that is not enclosed.
6. A battlefield, especially when flat and open.
7. A field of inquiry or study.

[Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 1989]

It has gotten to the point that now this unenclosed farmer feels that he is a much better driver in reverse than moving forward…which speaks volumes for his regular driving ability.

■ Government approved

At this point you might be wondering if driving such a way is actually legal. It is for Devi at least. He had gotten special permission by his local driving authority to do so which really sheds some light on the state of Punjabi bureaucracy. To accomplish this he had to make sure it was street legal while going backwards. Aside from the 80km/h (50mph) top speed in reverse and enough decals to warn people he’s crazy, there is also a pair of headlights mounted on the trunk for visibility.

Still, you might think that no matter how well a car operates in reverse, its mere existence would be a confusing distraction for other motorists and pedestrians. That’s why he had an ambulance siren attached to it giving everyone within a deaf person’s earshot fair warning of his arrival. Here’s a video giving you all the joy of riding alongside Devi and his extremely loud backwards car. It’s only 50 seconds but I defy you to sit through the whole thing at normal volume.

■ Labor of love

Devi complains that driving in such a manner for over a decade has wreaked havoc on his neck and shoulders, but it’s what he loves doing. And so, for insisting on driving backwards at full speed through city streets with an amazingly noisy siren blasting at full volume wearing a team Canada hockey cap with complete disregard for those around him and his own personal health for no other reason than he wants to, I think it’s safe to say that Harpeet Devi is one awesome guy!

Source: Barcroft Cars via, Oxford English Dictionary (English)
Video: YouTube – seeAutoBrief automotive portal