It has ruled the roads of India as much as the heart of its people, a brief chronicle on the country's much loved vehicle of choice
The king of Indian roads, the Ambassador was India’s most preferred car for years. It was the first car to have been manufactured in India and the only one up until the early 1980s when Maruti entered the Indian market with its trademark 800cc model. Manufactured by Hindustan Motors based on Britain’s Morris Oxford series design, it was produced in a factory just outside Kolkata.
Sturdy and bold at the same time, the design promised increased security for passengers especially on Indian roads. However, over a period of time the Ambassador failed to keep up with the changing needs and desires of the population. With the opening of the economy, newer and more competitive models hit the market and the Ambassador started falling behind. It was a status symbol for officials to have an Ambassador but this perception didn’t stick either. With the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s decision to move away from the Ambassador as his official vehicle (and onto a BMW SUV), one of the biggest and important associations with the car gradually waned.
There was a time when people waited for almost a year from the date of the booking for the delivery of their car. The production of the car had to be stopped in 2014 owing to the drastic drop in demand.
And yet, the Ambassador remains in the fond memories of anyone who grew up in the 1990s. Family holidays, road trips - innumerable stories and milestones have graced its journey over the years, and carved for it a special place in India’s collective memory.