25th May, 2014 was a sad day indeed, as far as Indian Motoring history is concerned. Production of the Hindustan Ambassador has been stopped. The King of Indian roads as it is fondly know, started its life a Morris Oxford in 1956. It was produced in India under license on behalf of Morris Motors. Despite it’s British origins, it is regarded as the definitive Indian car. It has been around for 58 years, and that too largely unchanged.
The Amby had grown a little old in the tooth. Hindustan Motor’s could sell only 2500 examples in 2011. Coupled with stringent emission regulations and growing losses it was time to put this work horse to rest.
A lot of the older folk fondly remember the Ambassador to be their first car or the car they learnt to drive in. Till date,people say it has the most comfortable rear seats. Uptil the early 1980’s, the only cars one could have was either the Hindustan Ambassador or the Premier Padmini. This changed with the entrance of the Maruti Suzuki 800 in 1983.
Kolkata is one of the few places where one gets to see many many Ambassadors. More than 33,000 of them are used as taxi’s. The taxi driver’s swear by it. Because of it’s simple design, it’s easy to fix and run.
The Hindustan Ambassador has been a favourite with politicians. Although, the numbers are dwindling. Many have moved onto newer Indian bred cars like the Safari and Scorpio. In an episode of the famous UK car show; Top Gear, the Hindustan Ambassador was voted as the best taxi in the world! Many designers and modifiers have customised the Ambassador. One notable creation was the Ambylimo. Reputed car designer Dilip Chhabria designed a car called Amberoid which was inspired by the Ambassador and showcased at one of the Auto Expo’s.
The prices of the Ambassador just before it was discontinued ranged from Rs 4.12 -6.26 Lakhs (Ex-showroom).
In a way, the Ambassador is to India, what the Mustang is to USA.