Cars of India

Although you will still find old cars on the streets of India, most just look old (and I don’t mean due to lack of care and maintenance). The Hindustan Ambassador, for instance, is based on the 1950s Morris Oxford and was still being produced in 2004. The 1958 Fiat 1100-based Padmini is also an evergreen. Other models include the Hindustan Contessa, which is in fact the 1972 Vauxhall Victor.

Premier – Hindustan Ambassador


Ambassador – the first car to be manufactured in India, has been ruling the Indian roads ever since its inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford (United Kingdom, 1948), the Ambassador has been undergoing a series of changes, adapting to customer expectations.

With upgraded manufacturing facilities in Uttarpara, West Bengal, Hindustan Motors Limited is geared for production of a more contemporary version of the Ambassador, with features catering to the needs of the present generation.

Ambassador, the only automobile to ply Indian roads for more than five decades now, has carved a special niche for itself in the passenger car segment. Its dependability, spaciousness and comfort factor have made it the most preferred car for generations of Indians. The Ambassador’s time-tested, tough, accommodating and practical characteristics make it a truly Indianised car.”

The above is a quote from the 2004 official Hindustan Ambassador website.

I found India truly wonderful – all the sights and sounds you have read about, the ancient history, the more recent colonial history and… the animals. Not the just the sacred cow. Monkeys, camels, elephants, you name it. But to stick to the automotive theme, it was the taxis that made a lasting impression. Most seemed to be Hindustan Ambassadors. And of course the Bajaj tricycles. On one trip in an Ambassador through Old Delhi our driver spent most of his time driving whilst looking at us in the back seat, at the same time honking his horn in order to clear a path though the congested streets. We all survived.

On a long drive to Agra, to see the Taj Mahal, we encountered numerous accident spots. Quite a few had involved animals, the remains left lying in the gutter. To mark the wrecked vehicles, stones were laid around them. These proved particularly useful when returning after dark, as there was no street lighting at all.

FIAT / Padmini Station Car