THE HINDUSTAN AMBASSADOR: THE INDIAN ICON

Have you ever heard about the legend of the car manufactured for the longest period in India? In today´s article, my pleasure to share with you the story behind the Hindustan Motors Ambassador, the most iconic car in the great India. This car became part of the culture of the country.

The Ambassador – commonly called as the Amby – represents a vehicle for important people. When I visited India, whenever an Ambassador was passing by, I did have the feeling that the President of the India, politicians or bureaucrats could be inside. That is actually part of Hindustan Motors ‘strategy, becoming the first politician´s choice in India, and available for everyone at a low price.

Hindustan Motors put the country on wheels, designing the future image of the Indian streets with the start of the production of the Ambassador in 1958 until its end of production in 2014. This is the most surprising fact of the Ambassador, the vehicle has kept the same body for the last 56 years, even do it persisted almost unchanged, just getting few technical improvements, but always showing the same old, iconic but distinctive face.

And this is not the end of the story, as there are still more curious facts about the iconic Hindustan Ambassador:

  • The Ambassador became the first diesel car to be made in the country. The initial engine to power the vehicle did have German origins, a BMW driving force.
  • The Morris Oxford Series III was the base of the Ambassador in 1957.
  • The Ambassador has always remained the bureaucrats and politicians´ first choice, normally in white color and a chauffeur at the wheel. Almost 20% of the sales of this vehicle came from the Government´s orders.
  • With its last series of Ambassador, in 2004 the company set a production record of over 900,000 units.
  • Top Gear crowned the Ambassador as the best taxi in the world in 2013.

For me, the first time to see the Hindustan´s icon was at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Just by looking at its name, the Ambassador, it really gave me that impression of an amazing classic car whose chauffeur was waiting for somebody important.

There were other two facts of this car than impacted me: 1) On the rear side, the Amby shows proudly that it is equipped with a power steering pump, something that is taken by granted in any car for the last 20 years in Europe. 2) The vehicle shows a label with “1800ISZ”, which I quickly understood. It has been already almost 3 years that I am working on a company in Japan within the automotive industry, therefore I could understand that the ISZ meant that the vehicle is powered by an Isuzu engine. To sum up, it seems that this Indian car is powered by a 1.8 Japanese engine of 4 cylinders, Isuzu branded.

HINDUSTAN AMBASSADOR 1800s – TECHNICAL SPECS

In the 1999, this vehicle went under renovation. Some of the most remarkable changes were: the vehicle got a power steering, new sets design, the gear lever was changed from the steering column to the floor and the suspension and disc brakes got improved. Before the end of production of this car, the price of a new Ambassador started at 515,000 INR (6,545€).

THE END OF THE AMBASSADOR… OR MAYBE NOT?

In 2014, the Ambassador closed its doors after 56 years of uninterrupted production. Further, Hindustan Motors disclosured some of the main reasons why the company made such decision: “worsening conditions at Uttarpara plant which includes very low productivity, growing indiscipline, critical shortage of funds, lack of demand for its core product the Ambassador and large accumulation of liabilities”.

Having said that, after 56 years of production this last small “facelift” of the Ambassador would be the last one, as the Hindustan Motors stopped its activity, along with the end of production of its great legend, the Ambassador.

Very far away from India, an European car-maker brand which had already tried to take part of the Indian market twice in the past, oversees the situation of the Indian icon – as the country is still on its future strategic portfolio. I am talking about the Lion-Peugeot, strong French auto company which was not able to succeed before: a joint venture with Premier Automobiles in the late 90s (launching just one car) and the second try in 2011 as aborted due to the European´s economic situation. The third time lucky!

Given the complex economic situation of the iconic Indian brand, PSA group could close the deal by 10.7 million €, an even more symbolic price than the Ambassador. As part of its strategic plan, the PSA Group created a joint venture with India´s CK Birla Group to produce the new cars. Could this mean the revival of the Ambassador with the latest PSA technology?

The main PSA strategy is to mimic Renault´s strategy, this is designing and selling vehicles in the Indian market, Iran, Latin America and the ASEAN region at Indian cost, bringing smart cars from 2020 onwards. The picture below represents very good how the way would look like in the coming years. Let us wish them luck!

This is all for today, I hope you have enjoyed today´s article. Please, as always, it would be a great pleasure to hear from your comments, opinions, questions and/or any other suggestion you would like to make.

Did you know the Ambassador?

How did you like it?

Do you think Peugeot will revive the iconic Ambassador with the latest PSA technology?

Please, feel free to share whatever you want with us! I am sure you do have something curious or funny to share with us! Looking forward to hearing from you soon! 😊

Juan Carlos Hoyos Saez Administrator
Passionate about Cars, Driving and Business. My objective is to inspire more and more car lovers. Racing, Kickboxing, traveling, and healthy life. Sub-project leader as a Material Cost/Project Controller, Daimler Trucks Asia (Tokyo, Japan).
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