From a luxury car to plying as a cab, we chronicle the country’s favourite car’s journey, one kilometre year at a time
It was probably one of the first cars we learnt to drive, and in hindsight, with much difficulty we think. When you think of the inception of the Indian automobile industry, two names come to mind, one is the Ambassador car and the other is the Padmini.
Almost every Indian (who has spent a decade in the previous century) worth his or her driving license has seen the two cars plying the roads. Like most things design, the Padmini also has its roots in Italy. An heir of the erstwhile FIAT 1100, it hit the Indian roads in 1964, and continued to rule the roads until recently in its avatar of the much loved black and yellow cabs on the streets of Mumbai. It gained momentum when Premier Auto started producing it for the Indian market under license from FIAT. Under the diktat of the government, the Premier Padmini was assembled in the auto major’s plant in Kurla, Mumbai till 1997.
Typical of cars then, it also had the popular bench seats both in the front and at the back. It initially rolled out as Premier President but later in 1974 got the moniker Padmini, in a reference to the beauty of the legendary empress of Chittor. With its sleek lines, uncluttered design, it soon became the undisputed queen of city roads in India.