Revisiting the ‘King of Indian Roads’ !!!
You can’t talk about legendary Indian cars without mentioning the Hindustan Ambassador. It is also fondly called ‘King of Indian Roads’. The Ambassador was in production from 1958 to 2014 i.e. for 56 years !!! It is an early example of how foreign influence becomes a part of Indian Society.
The origins of the car lie in Morris Oxford III Series. Like its previous series I and series II cars, Morris sold the rights and tooling to Hindustan Motors in 1956. In the following year, Hindustan Ambassador arrived in the country. This first made-in-India car had a waiting list of five years in 1962. What made it so popular? Let’s have a look:-
Hindustan Ambassador: The Indian Icon
Hindustan Ambassador: Design
Although its base model is Morris Oxford Series III, it has received multiple facelifts over the years. There were only minor changes in its styling like the grille, wheels, etc. Its looks have been the same for the whole time. Due to its simple yet iconic design, it has become an icon itself.
Hindustan Ambassador: Engine
The Mk1 Hindustan Ambassador had a 1.5-liter engine producing 55 bhp. It was retained till the Mark III model. In addition to a 1.5-liter diesel engine, the MkIV also got a 1.8-liter I4 petrol engine. The Next-gen Ambassador Nova removed the 1.8-liter engine option. The next model, dubbed the Ambassador 1800 ISZ featured a 75 bhp Isuzu inline-four engine. The BSIV emission norms caused the diesel engine to discontinue. The grand model was available in 2.0 liter and 1.8-liter engine options. A 1.5-liter engine was added to the line in 2007.
Hindustan Ambassador: Interior
Comparing with modern cars, the Hindustan Ambassador has a fairly simple interior. The MkII Ambassador gets wood grain plywood and aluminum bezel trim inside. The standard version of MkIII Ambassador got a new dashboard with 3 standard instruments mounted on black recessed mesh. Whereas the Deluxe version gets 4 meters plus speedometer. Another major change came with the introduction of Mk V Ambassador i.e. Ambassador Nova. It gets a new steering wheel and a new steering column with a top-hinged brake pedal. Another fresh change was a single glovebox. The sixth-gen Ambassador ‘Classic’ saw the change of gauges’ direction plus standard seat belts. The final generation Ambassador Grand, Avigo and Encore models came with modern features like a factory-fitted music system and optional sunroof.
Hindustan Ambassador: Discontinuation
Due to the introduction of small and affordable cars like the Maruti Suzuki 800, Hindustan Ambassadors’ demand began to reduce. Due to the entry of global automotive brands in the Indian market and the popularity of Ambassador began to fall. After more than 50 years of production, HM ended the production of Ambassador in 2014.
Hindustan Ambassador: Legacy
The Hindustan Ambassador is crowned as the best taxi in the World by Top Gear in the Second episode of their 20th series. It has actually become a legend nowadays. Seven years after its discontinuation, it is still used as a taxi in cities like Kolkata. Many politicians also own one. It is a very popular car among collectors. We can see many restored models on the road. It is still a very beautiful sight to behold. This iconic car that once used to rule the roads, is still very close to everyone’s heart.