July 27, 2021

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Hindustan Ambassador – A Dig into the History of Indian Car

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AKSHITA VERMA
AKSHITA VERMA

Story Teller & Blogger

The vintage car; Ambassador was a car of luxury not too long ago, where only the rich people could afford it and was a symbol of pride. The Ambassador was the first car ever to be manufactured in India. It also has the honour of being the first locally manufactured diesel car in India.

 Now, let’s dig into the history of Hindustan Ambassador.

Hindustan Ambassador was manufactured and established by Mr B.M.Birla. In 1954, the company combined with Morris Motors of England (the predecessor to MG) to assemble their vehicles in India, thus reducing costs and increasing profits.

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The first car to be born under this new venture was the Hindustan 10, a rebadged Morris 10. In 1958, Hindustan Motors launched the predecessor to the Ambassador, the Landmaster.

Based on the Morris Oxford Series II saloon, the Landmaster was quite an elevated looking car with a typical European charm. There was also an estate version of the car, but nevertheless, it didn’t go well in the market.

In 1958, Hindustan Motors discontinued the Landmaster and introduced the legend of all time The Ambassador. The new car was based on the Morris Oxford Series III saloon. The model of the car was slightly change with some styling whilst the engine was untouched and remained the same.

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The car was simply called the Ambassador. In 1960, the engine was upgraded from a side-valve design unit to overhead-valve design. The car was never called the ‘Mk I’ though, that name arose in retrospect of the later models.

In 1975, it introduced a new version where they designed a new look. The shape of indicator lights at the front was now round. A new1.8-litre petrol motor was also added to the cars to provide proper and adequate power to run the AC system well. In the 1980s the latest diesel engine was added to the cars but was exclusively available for the government officials and taxis because private ownership of diesel was constricted at that time.

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As and when the time passed, in the 90s the Indian economy opened its doors to the international market and new and latest cars entered into the Indian market. And eventually, the ambassador felt outdated. 

To repulse its competitors the company set out the car with its new and modern features as well as technology and named the car ‘Ambassador Nova’. The interiors of the cars were modernized including the steering, dashboard and brakes. The engines of the car were now upgraded and offered 1.5 litres of petrol and diesel.

The company was now in a stable position and reached its zenith. It all happened because of the changes the company made into the car with its modernized version.

To maintain its stability in the market the company launched a new car in the market at the end of the 90s which was known as Dubbed the ‘Classic’ it was sold alongside the nova. Hindustan motors back to back were launching cars with varied and new features to maintain the position, 2003 came and it introduced Ambassador Grand. The Grand was only available with the Isuzu-sourced 1.8 petrol and 2.0 diesel. 

But as we say after reaching a point of its height one has to come down, the same thing happened with the Hindustan motors’ Ambassador. Gradually the position and Domination of the Ambassador over the market weakened and it started to decline.

Although, Hindustan motors did not leave any hope and were manufacturing the cars with plenty of new versions. In somewhat 2007 Avigo was launched by the company. The car’s design was much more rounded than before, more likely to a retro-modern version.

The luxury factor was also improved, with a new HVAC system, premium Kenwood audio system, and a new instrument console. The dashboard design was once again changed, with new wood embellishments. The seats were also changed with a new combination of colours and fabrics.

The sales of the company were not so much that was off before the pre liberalization period and people were not interested in buying these type of cars.

The last model of the Ambassador was ‘Encore’ but at that point in time foreign cars overthrew the cars and stabilized their position. There were not many buyers and at the end On 24th May 2014, the manufacturing line of the Hindustan Ambassador was finally shut down, bringing an end to the car’s run after more than five decades.

However, we can never forget the contribution the Hindustan Motor Ambassador to the country.