Thursday, December 29, 2011

HM Ambassador... The evolution of a car that has been in production since 1957

The Ambassador, has been in production since its inception in 1957, with very few changes to its frame to the current date.

This famed car which was once a default for any car buyer in India has managed to stay alive even today. Known once as the Indian government man’s official car, it is now a practical, relatively easy to run and maintain classic car - a vintage that you can buy new from a showroom and drive anywhere. Lets take a look at the evolution of this iconic model and its history in India.

Hindustan Motors was formed in 1942 by Mr B M Birla but production of the first car, the Hindustan 10 which was based on the British Morris 10, did not start until 1949.

This was followed in 1950 by the “Baby Hindustan”, a car based on the Morris Minor, and the Hindustan 14 which was based on the Morris 14. These were popular and sturdy cars, we can still find a number of immaculately restored 'Hindustan 14's' and 'Baby Hindustan's' on Indian roads.

An immaculately maintained Hindustan 14 - based on the Morris 14

The 1954 Morris Oxford series II in India was licence-built at Uttarpara, West Bengal, three years after its debut in England and labelled as the 1957 Hindustan Landmaster. It had a rounded rear squab and a curvaceous sloping hood.

Morris Oxford Series I  - The Hindustan Landmaster (below) was of the clone of the Oxford

In 1957 a tool line of the Series 3 Morris Oxford was transferred to India and production of the Ambassador car started in 1958. Styling changes from the Morris Oxford series II (Landmaster) to Morris Oxford series III (Ambassador) included deep headlamp cowls and small rear wing "tail fins" – all the rage in 1956. The dashboard and steering wheel were completely redesigned. The Landmaster's flat-plane two-spoke steering wheel gave way to a stylish dished steering wheel with three spokes made-up of four wires per spoke, for the Ambassador. Also a new, dimpled hood made its debut. These models had a 1,489 cc side-valve BMC B series petrol engine. In 1959 the side-valve engine was replaced by a 1489 cc, 55 bhp overhead-valve BMC B series petrol engine.

The Morris Oxford Series III 1957 - The present day Ambassador's parent.

From 1958 to 1993 the Ambassador was fitted with a 1,489 cc engine. In 1993, as a result of emission regulations, a 1,800 cc Isuzu engine was fitted to the 1800 1SZ model.

By 2004 nearly four million Ambassador cars had been sold. In 2006 HM introduced the Ambassador Avigo. The Avigo is a slightly modernised version with a retro touch to the old Ambassador. The Avigo features modern comfort features and some additional safety features, making it more practical to a classic car enthusiast.

The refreshed Ambassador Avigo introduced in 2006

HM has also recently added a pick up version to its current line up of the Ambassador series called the ‘Veer’ aimed at the rural consumers. A product that is a little late for its time by about 25 years.

 The ‘Amby’ lives on and production of this iconic car continues to the current day in India, and by the looks of it has another decade of production ahead of it.
The Ambassador pick up 'Veer' recently indroduced - A good concept 25 years late 
An original 1956 Morris Oxford Series II pick up

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