Hindustan Motors to stop production of the Ambassador

Discussion in 'T&AA - Travel and Anything Automotive' started by JD666, May 26, 2014.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    The company has shut down production indefinitely as of yesterday. The iconic Ambassador, the choice of travel for the wealthy, the politicos and weary eyed travelers arriving after a long flight, will not be produced anymore.

    For a remnant of post-independence India, the Ambassador is probably as historic as it gets.

    India post independence was a dumping ground of sorts, and a number of British Manufacturers only (with the exclusion of Fiat) primarily targeted and brought their vehicles (though outdated for them) to our shores. We had the likes of Rover selling their SD1 as the Standard here between 85-88. I actually had a chance to sit in one of em long back. First car to have power windows back then!

    We also had other companies like Standard Herald selling their unique 2 door removable roof Herald, Mark 2 and the above mentioned Rover SD1. Incidentally Standard was as nearly as old as Hindustan in India (1959).


    Moving on. The Ambassador was always the benchmark for it's plush ride, and ride only. The rear seat that was like a grandfather arm-chair to many, and the heavy body + super soft suspension made for next to nothing in terms of bumps and road undulations.

    On the flip side, the anemic engine (44 BHP for a vehicle that was nearly 2 tons), the Titanic-like Handling and Drum Brakes that required braking so much in advance, you would be scared to speed up at all.

    The thin spindly like horn bar inside the steering wheel. The column shift gear box, the wide berth of the front seat. You rarely adjusted your seat, you grew into it :D

    The tiny quarter glass panels in the front to let fresh air and everything else come in. I remember seeing most cars fitted with tiny 5-6 inch fans and a regular bakelite switch that one would find in a house, on the B-pillar.

    It was normal to carry a jerry can with 20L of water in case the engine overheated and the radiator dumped the water on the road.

    Owning and driving one made one a mechanic first and a driver later. And a beefy one at that. The no power steering would definitely make one pop a vein or two if you had to do a 3-point turn. Let's just say it, very few regular drivers in today's world would be able to manage it.

    I did have the opportunity of driving one of the later models (post 2000), and I must say, it was the scariest thing that I drove. Though the brakes were boosted, they were virtually non-existent till you wouldn't stand on em.

    I remember reading, that outside the HM factory, there were a number of workshops. The quality of tooling and dies was so bad at HM, that once the owner would take the delivery of the car, he would simply drive across to the workshops across the road, and they would dismantle the car all over again. The panel gaps and fitment was so shoddy that new cars would leak during the rains and give engine trouble and what not.

    So a new car would essentially go thru a strip, correction and rebuild. And then the owner would take possession of his shiny 40 year old, new car.

    In the early 2000s, HM did spend around 30cr on new tooling and Dies to fix these issues. Which was their undoing. Rather than reworking the same design, this was an opportunity lost for them. A new design along the lines of the DC AmbiRod (which I shall post below in this article) would've truly propelled the Ambassador into the 21st century, making it as desirable as ever.

    Unfortunately it never happened, and HM went relying on the success of their mini RV, never bothered to give the Amby a new lease of life. Sales dwindled and their partnership with Mitsubishi also didn't click too well. That was their final un-doing.

    From rumors since 2012, that they are working on a pick up version of the Amby (Something like a Chevy truck from the 40s), to a sub-4 meter Amby version to meet the 12% reduction in excise. A couple of test mules saw the light of day as well. But like before, it was too little too late.

    What I do appreciate them for, is for trying to shoe horn every possible engine that they could get their hands on. From an Isuzu diesel, to one from Mitsubishi, to what not, they tried every possible combination and trick.

    The Amby, even got floor shift gears with bucket seats, and A/C as standard. But sadly, it never got the facelift or upgrade that it deserved.

    Like the virtually dead, or sold to someone else British Motoring industry, this is a sad goodbye to another Indian Icon.


    P.S - Anyone remember the 'shelf' below the metal dashboard? ideal location to keep all deities and cassettes for the tape deck.
     
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  2. dbg

    dbg RAID Staff Staff Member

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    What's going to replace them ?
     
  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    replace who?
     
  4. dbg

    dbg RAID Staff Staff Member

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    The standard Govt. vehicle .
     
  5. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Replaced long back. Every state government has separate issue now. Some use esteem, some Accent and Scorpio etc

    Sent from my HTC One mini using Tapatalk
     
  6. idutt

    idutt RAID Rookie

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    I think the popular car now for politicians & most Indians depending on their spending power is the Toyota Fortuner
     
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  7. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Yep, forgot about the Fortuner. The Innova as well for its ruggedness and reliability.
     
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  8. BANHAMMER

    BANHAMMER Teh Almighty BanHammer Staff Member

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    My friend used to work for them. The company was so far gone, it was beyond hope of repair.
     
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