The automotive industry in India has evolved through the years, though there are certain cars that have become a symbol. One such car is the Hindustan Ambassador, a motor that’s fulfilled various roles, ranging from a taxi to a political mode of transport. Originally designed in the UK, the Hindustan Ambassador has been recognised as a definitive Indian car. Called the ‘king of Indian roads,’ we’re looking into the history of the Hindustan Ambassador.
An English origin story
The Ambassador was based on the Morris Oxford Series, made by Morris Motors Limited. The company was part of the British Motor Corporation, who sold the car rights to Hindustan Motors in 1956. Hindustan was established just before Indian independence as a pioneering car manufacturer.
Hindustan introduced the Ambassador in 1958 and it came with a new front end, grille, bonnet and tail fins. The design was considered innovative because of the increased space paired with the semi-monocoque body. The original model was only badged Ambassador after 1960, when the side valve engine changed to an overhead valve engine.
The second version of the Ambassador came out in 1962, with a minor change happening with the front grille. It resembled the one that could be found on the Morris Mini. The wooden dashboard also received new dials.
A consistent design
The overall layout of the Ambassador remained unchanged, which demonstrated a sound design. Other models followed, such as the MK 3, MK 4 and Nova. Within the Indian market, the car had dominance because of its spacious size compared to rivals such as the Standard 10 and Premier Padmini. Not only did it become a popular taxi, the Ambassador turned into a vehicle used by bureaucrats and politicians.
The Ambassador was even reintroduced to the UK in 1992. In order to comply with European safety legislation, the cars were retrofitted with a heater and seat belts. Only a few were sold, which forced the importer to go into liquidation.
Even though the Ambassador isn’t as popular as it used to be, it remains an important Indian car.