Hindustan Ambassador, First Car Made in India, Goes Out of Production

Hindustan Ambassador 8 photos
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India has recently put one of its motoring icons to sleep, with the Hindustan Ambassador having gone out of production. Basically the Indian version for Britain’s Morris Oxford, the Ambassador now ends a career of almost six decades, with maker Hindustan Motors citing plummeting sales.
For those outside India, the Hindustan Ambassador is one of those cars that received a revised bumper for every decade of worldwide automotive evolution. Nonetheless, this used to be of little importance for Indian buyers, who had made a cult for the Ambassador.

Back in 1957, the Ambassador started out as the only passenger car produced in India, but its status quickly climbed past that. The vehicle became a symbol of social status, with its image building on India’s economical aspirations.

Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador was the choice of state authorities for many decades. In its most iconic posture, the Ambassador was dressed in White, with Red flashing beacons adorning its bonnet. Nowadays, you can see quite a lot of Ambassadors working as taxis.

Despite the emotional side that helped the Ambassador build such a strong reputation, the 1950s origins of the project couldn’t be ignored. There’s only so much updates could do to improve the key problem areas, such as safety and fuel efficiency.

The vehicle’s decline started back in the 1980s, when the Maruti Suzuki came to the market. Well, at least the Ambassador outlived the Maruti 800, which went out of production earlier this year, having built a reputation as the people’s car.

The real issues for the Ambassador came one decade later though, when the Indian car market liberalisation brought fierce competition from all across the world. Sales have been falling ever since and last year Hindustan Motors only managed to push over 2,200 examples of the car. To get an idea of the Indian market’s size, we’ll mention the overall sales figure of 1.8 million units (fiscal year 2013).

Previous talks of a reinvention for the Ambassador have been dismissed, since Hindustan Motors not only axed the Ambassador, but also shut down the Uttarpara plant where the car was built. The Ambassador’s demise is just one of the carmaker’s problems, which is currently in the red and in search of investors.

It is difficult to believe the Ambassador will ever make a comeback, since the vehicle’s image only targets potential buyers of a certain age, while the new generations have moved on to modern vehicle choices.
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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