The British left us with three really good things: Railway network, Education system and the Ambassador car. I know its a bit exaggerated statement, but for a middle-class Indian of the 1950s and right up to the 80s, Amby was probably the first car of their dreams.
Plush interiors, superb pickup, fantastic ride quality and commendable design… Amby had none of these, but the classic beauty still remained an integral part of our lives for several decades. It was a perfect symbol of bureaucracy in the pre-liberalised Indian State, where neither speed nor acceleration were the desired virtues.
After writing a lot about the love affair of Indian Janta with the HM Ambassador, let's come to the reality now. Although, the Amby carried the class and legacy with it, but that does not excuse it for being bulky, blunt, overpriced and outdated.
It won't be wrong if I say that Amby actually died the same day, when a Maruti 800-driving Manmohan Singh became our country's representative and tried to transform our economy in the same as a practical and agile hatchback. And in the current scenario, Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi, our nation's new chief is again set to bring the change and promises to drive our economy with the brute force of an Sports Utility Vehicle(SUV).
If the day of its birth created a history in 1957, then May 24, 2014 will also be remembered for its end. On this date, the iconic Ambassador, manufactured by Hindustan Motors, took its last breathe in the Uttarpara factory, that once rolled out the India's version of the Great Britain's obsolete Morris Oxford.
The decision to halt production came because of the dying sales of the Ambassador. In one of the world's fastest growing car markets, Hindustan Motors sold only 2,200 units in the last fiscal. With business hitting the lowest of all times, it was high time for the nation's car to wrap up it's journey.
Hoping for the best and being an Amby fan, I would love to see it running on the Indian roads soon!
Hindustan Motors Ambassador (1957-2014) :
1957: The first Morris Oxford III inspired Ambassador rolled out of HM's Uttarpara facility.
1959: The original side-valve engine was improved to an overhead-valve engine.
1963: The Ambassador went through a minor facelift and the facelifted Amby was gifted to Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru.
1975: Gets another minor facelift and the design incorporated new tail-parking lights and new dashboard.
1979: The first Diesel Ambassador was launched.
1980s: Ambassador was on the top of the charts, with annual sales touching to 24,000 units.
1995: The sales were dropped to 18,000 Ambassadors in a year, all thanks to the latest sensation at that time, Maruti 800.
1999: Hindustan Motors tried to grip the market again, Ambassador Nova was launched.
2003: The most tragic time for the Ambassador, lost its 'official' tag as the new Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee chose BMW 7-Series as his ride.
2013: Sales drowned to just 3,000 units. And the BS IV model was launched to meet up the mandatory emission laws for the metros.
2014: Amby saw its last day, production at the Uttarpara plant was suspended.