The Hindustan Ambassador popularly called the Ambassador car was manufactured by Hindustan Motors. The automobile was manufactured in two factory sites namely Sriperumbudur, Chennai and Uttarpara plant in Kolkata. Ambassador has British origin and was manufactured by Morris Motors Limited. The automobile was in production from 1958 to 2014 with few improvements and changes over its production lifetime. Despite its British origin the car was king on Indian roads. It has a four door saloon with a FR layout. It was a compact car with adequate leg space and can easily accommodate five people including the driver. The car was spacious because of its semi- monocoque design which was quite advanced in early 1950s in vehicle engineering.
The chassis of the car was known to be very tough and can handle any weight when dropped. The car was used by the politicians in New Delhi and as yellow taxis in Kolkata. The different variants of Ambassador were:
Mark I (1957-62): was one with dished steering wheel with three spokes made of four wires per spoke with a new dimpled bonnet and 1476 cc engine.
Mark II (1962-75) : underwent a frontal facelift with an interior redesigned. The body of the car had wood grain coated plywood and aluminium bezel in later model. In the mid-sixties some minor changes were made to the tail lamp with integrated lens for indicator and brake lamp.
Mark III (1975-79) : had also undergone a frontal facelift. The front grill had horizontal louvers giving it a modern feel a round profile indicator now detached from the grill. The number plate looked more modern now. The interior was redesigned with a new dashboard with 3 standard instruments mounted on a black recessed mesh. The engine was 1760cc and had full air conditioning system.
Mark 4 : had a flatter design with the front grill much smaller in height. Separate amber indicator lamps was incorporated on semi front lip spoiler below the bumper. The model was powered by 1489 cc diesel engine. The make was very well received by Indians for government usage and for taxis. During this time Maruti Suzuki launched Maruti 800. The ambassador still remained the principal family car of choice for the middle class segment in spite of its design and styling.
Ambassador Nova (1990-99) : was launched in two variants 55bhp petrol powered Deluxe and 37 bhp diesel powered Deluxe DX. The model received new designed steering wheel, new steering column, better brakes and electricals. The brake pedal was now top-hinged, while the earlier central instrumentation flanked by two glove compartments was replaced by a more conventional setup with a single glove box.
Ambassador 1800 ISZ, Classic (1998-2010) : This model featured a 75 bhp 1817 cc Isuzu inline-four engine and a five-speed manual gearbox with a floor shift. This also had the benefit of allowing the option of bucket seats. Also, the entire dashboard was redesigned. Instrumentation panels were shifted from the centre of the dashboard to the right, behind the steering wheel. Seat belts became standard.
Ambassador Grand : The Ambassador Grand was launched in 2003 and as per the manufacturer; the new version had 137 changes compared to Classic. The body coloured wrap around bumpers, camel coloured interiors, fabric seats, remote shift gear lever, moulded roof and door trims, Salisbury axles, bigger rear wheel drums, improved suspension with anti-roll bar and Metlon bushes, central door lock, factory fitted music system and an optional sun roof.
Ambassador Avigo : The Avigo was launched in the summer of 2004. However, the most overpowering influence on the front bonnet has been that of the original Landmaster series (also based on Morris Oxford). The main panels at the rear remained the same but the tail lamp and name plate bezels were redesigned. In interior the Avigo, however, has much more classic-touch internals.
Ambassador Encore : This new model was launched in 2013, to match the BS IV standards of the metropolitan cities with the 1.5-liter diesel. The steering wheel was the two-spoke affair first seen in the Nova.
The other versions were extended and customized versions. Ambassador cars were a nostalgia with fleets of car to be seen outside the parliament or as yellow taxis. There was a time when we all wanted an ambassador for family because of its space. But today this car has become nostalgia for we Indians.