In the current Indian movies, they are one trend. The heroes, villain or an important character will be seen riding the foreign car like BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Rolls Royce, Maserati, and Bentley. They are more car shown in the movie and most will be foreign cars. But this is the current trend, once in the ’70s and 80’s they are one car that will be seen in most of the Indian movie and it is the famous Ambassador car. The Ambassador the grand icon for Indian car whether in the movie or in the Indian road. The Ambassador is the favorite car for most of the movie actor in the ’70s and ’80s. Now in the current movie, the car is not shown anymore, and, in this article, we will look at the history behind this famous classic car.
The car is known as Ambassador, but the once King of Indian Road is famously known as the Hindustan Ambassador. The car is basically the Morris Oxford Series 3 that was launched by Morris and Morris is part of British Motor Corporation with sadly had been defunct in 1968. The car shared some similarities with the Mini car in term of the exterior design, but this is not a coincidence as both the car was designed by Alec Issigonis a British Greek car designer. How Morris Oxford becomes the Hindustan Ambassador? The British Motor Corporation had sold the right and tooling expertise of this car to Hindustan Motors hence the car name had been renamed as Hindustan Ambassador.
Once Hindustan Motors that is part Birla Group is the pioneer of Indian car manufacturer before the arrival of Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra. They are some interesting stories on the Birla Group. In India, the term “Tata-Birla” will be used to associate with the extremely wealthy person in the country as Tata Group of Companies also a big group of companies in India. Before the arrival of Ambani, Tata and Birla are the well-known groups of companies in India.
Due to his unique design and a well built and strong body for a car, the car had become a phenomenal success in India. Politician, diplomat, wealthy person, celebrities and many others were using this car during the popular time. The car is the official government car during these times and in many Indian movies whether Bollywood, Tollywood or Kollywood the car will be the main attraction as it will depict the hero, villain or any important character in the movie.
During the ’50s the Indira Gandhi government is promoting the indigenous Automobile Industries hence this is another reason why foreign car unable to make their mark during this time and subsequently led to the rise of the Ambassador as the King of the Indian Road. The car had become so popular and iconic that even the taxi in India is using this car. The Hindustan Ambassador had become iconic and classic hence coincidentally this car will be forever associated with Indian advancement in automobile industries.
But later in ’80s thing start to changes as the once King of Indian road is slowly losing its throne. The first during this time, it had lost his dominance to the Maruti Suzuki , a India automobile which had 56.21% subsidiary ownership by Suzuki Corporation a Japanese automobile and motorcycle and in 90’s when global automobile makers start to make their presence felt in Indian soil with a model that had contemporary design and the current automobile technologies in their car.
The thing that makes the Ambassador iconic is something that had led to their downfall as changing the exterior design will make the car lost his classic design. Hindustan Motors does not make any significant changes to the car except for changing the steering design, lighting of the car and brake position however the current car technologies which is popular choices among the user is still not present in the Ambassador.
However, the car is still been used by the government and until now the car is still been used as the taxi. The car is still popular among the middle-class individual in India, but the King had lost his throne and is unable to back to the top again like in the early day. However, due to the presence of more advancement in the car technologies and better design, the car had become a symbol of automobile backwardness and losing it demand that had led to a weak sale for the car.
With the weak demand, competition form the other car manufacturer, lack of advancement in the car design and technologies and difficulties to follow the current emission ruling makes the car losing its charm and in the end in the March 2014 Hindustan Motors had decided the cancel the production of the car and closing out its car plant in the Kolkata and Chennai. However, the car is still been used as an airport taxi, taxi in Kolkata and as a government car too but sooner this will also take a hit since the production of the car had been cancelled.
Finally, in 2017, similar what British Motors did with their Oxford Morris by selling it to Hindustan Motors, Hindustan Motors had decided to sell their Hindustan Ambassador to French automaker Peugeot SA. With the Ambassador in their hand, maybe some advancement will be made to the design of the car and the technologies of the car to suit the current preference in the automobile industries. If Peugeot had been successful with this, then we can see the King of Indian road back with a better design and using the current car technologies in the car.
The Ambassador had been so successful and had made its legacy in India. The Ambassador had been named as the Best Taxi in World by Top Gear in the 2nd Episode and an article had been published in BBC Magazine July 2014 titles as An Epitaph for India’s “Appalling” National Car. The Ambassador will be the car that is loved by the generation X and Baby Bloomer of India but in the current automobile industry, the Ambassador unable to sustain its reputation hence led to the cancellation of production. We need to wait whether the Ambassador can make a comeback or whether it will be in the history book of the Indian Automobile Industries.