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Good old Ambassador car of HM.

 
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 12:02 am    Post subject: Good old Ambassador car of HM. Reply with quote

Till we meet again, my dear Amby

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/till-we-meet-again-my-dear-amby/article6061550.ece?homepage=true

As Hindustan Motors suspends production of the Ambassador, a look at what the car meant to a generation of Indians brought up in its time
Sleek interiors, superb pickup, aero-dynamic design… the Ambassador car possibly stands for the opposite of such sales pitch jargon, yet the ‘Amby’ for several generations of Indians is the stuff of memories.
Earlier this week Hindustan Motors (HM) announced that they are suspending production of the Indian icon. The production of the car in India, which traces its ancestry to the British-made Morris Oxford III, was moved to Uttarpara in West Bengal from Gujarat in 1948.
For those of us who grew up in the 1950s and right up to the 80s, it was probably the first car of our memories. The first one we rode in, fought for the window seat as we struggled with the roll-down handle, stared at the mesmerising bunch of bobbing, plastic grapes hung on the rear-view mirror and imagined the air-conditioner’s cooling effect, all the while squeezed into the sofa-like backseat with seven or eight others.
The car even taught many of us driving. The Ambassador became synonymous with places and things – yellow with Kolkata, the beaconed white with babu-dom and politicians and the black one with style. Then there were green, blue, grey, red…
An Ambassador was also about patriotism. Before the Japanese, Koreans, Germans, Italians and the Americans came, it was our only car-maker. While the Maruti Suzuki 800 became the ultimate aspirational car of the 1980s, the Amby became less cool. When the others came–compact cars, sleek sedans, hulking SUVs and box-like MUVs—we forgot our Amby. The solid, old reliable made-in-India was relegated even as it tried to keep with the times by going Nova, Encore and CNG. The stringent emission norms too didn’t help, HM simply couldn’t keep up with the changing times.
Dealerships for Ambassador cars are hard to find, most have stopped dealing with the car. Finding a dealer in the city is tough but 11 phone calls later (including one to a dealer, it turns out former, in Thiruvananthapuram), Geomotors, Eroor, pops up. “It is not that we haven’t been getting enquiries about the car, but for the last one year we have had little support from Hindustan Motors, so we haven’t been taking bookings,” says Simon who works at the dealership.
Covered with tarpaulin and gathering dust (because the resale prices are bad), some of these lie in car porches. Only a few brave ones venture out with these. One such proud owner is film director K.N. Sasidharan. He has had his steel-coloured Ambassador for the last 29 years, since 1984. “It is a convenient, safe car. Not once has it let me down; it is a diesel car and gives a good mileage. It has been a sort of companion all these years,” Sasidharan says. Although he owns another, ‘modern’ car, he continues to be attached to his Ambassador. “You only sell something when you don’t need it, isn’t it?”
The Ambassador has become a collector’s item now and mostly it is nostalgia and affection that keeps these cars with people. “My car was a gift from a friend. I am fond of it as it is a classic. It is a 1979, Mark III model. Maintenance costs a packet, but getting mechanics isn’t too tough,” says T.K. Mohandas, wildlife photographer. While Sasidharan hasn’t modified his car, Mohandas has by making changes to steering wheel and adding indicators and of course, the mandatory seatbelts.
“This is my second Ambassador. I use it as a taxi. It is spacious, the mileage is good and it is a solid heavy car… what else would one need in a car?” asks Jayakumar. This former employee of Autokast says of his 2007 model Ambassador Nova. He has a simpler take on the car’s waning popularity, “families have become smaller, cars are available with more features (a price tag of close to six-and-a-half lakh rupees is a put off) plus you need more experience to drive it.” The best part, according to him, is that it can be repaired anywhere in this country, “big town, small village…no fuss and anywhere.”
An Ambassador is also part of theIndia experience and India kitsch. Starred hotels offer tourists rides in the car and it features desi-inspired knick-knacks. A boutique hotel in Fort Kochi offers its patrons rides in an Ambassador car.
For another generation brought up on a diet of several genres of cars, the Ambassador is simply ‘taxi’. Unfortunately the distinction escapes them. Let’s hope the machines start rolling again at Uttarpara.
Maybe it is not yet time to say R.I.P., maybe its just a ‘see you in a while’…but Amby we will miss you!
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Textbook example of a company that didn't keep up with the times, and are now paying the price. Could've been the Indian Rolls Royce, but alas.
.
Above all, why was the only offered colour white? Surely they could (should) have diversified there, even when there was zero competition on the streets back in the 70s.
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Amby is a lovely car. Sad to see it go.

The writing on the wall was clear, I suppose. There is no market appeal for a car of its type and build today, other than with some collectors or classic car buffs.

Spiderguy252 wrote:
Above all, why was the only offered colour white? Surely they could (should) have diversified there, even when there was zero competition on the streets back in the 70s.


It was offered in several colours, not just white. My uncle bought an emerald green one in 1970, and it served him till 2009! It was in an excellent condition when he sold it too.

The white ones were mainly the government cars.
[/quote]
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tribute to the Ambassador, with whose passing a way of life has also passed

A little more than a decade ago a book celebrated the journey of the good old Ambassador. A conservationist called it “the sights, the sounds and soul of India”. The book presented the Amby, as the car is fondly called by many of its users, in different parts of the country — from the parking lot of Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi, where each babu had his own Amby space, to the little lanes of Calcutta where the car often blocked the way, to the seaside drive in Madras where people frequently left their Amby to soak in the sea waters and the sun rays, confident that their car would always stand with them.
With its sturdy body, luxurious seat, great boot, there was nothing to beat the Ambassador. It often used to have those little white or light blue curtains on its windows. It occasionally had a little fan too, for the comfort of the sahib. Every now and then, it came with a beacon, or a tiny flag post on the bonnet. Ah, the joys of the Amby, the colours of the emerging nation that took pride in its “own car”, symbol of a nation reaching within.
It often denoted the status of the owner, such was the pride, such was the joy of travelling, and being seen travelling, by Ambassador.
Why, even at the book launch of Raghubir Singh's “A Way into India” — yes that is the name of the book, as I now recall — Sheila Dikshit, the then CM of Delhi, arrived in an Ambassador.
All that is gone now, the book, the evening, the car, leaving a little lump in the throat. It was not just a car, it was the image of a nation on the move; you could find it on the unpaved floor of dhabas in outer Delhi, you could see it snaking past traffic in and around Kashmere Gate. In New Delhi, if you did not have an Amby, you had not arrived in life. And everybody had an Amby story: young boys and girls scored higher in the social stakes if they got down from an Amby in the morning; men did likewise, if they were driven in an Amby; women used it a little better. The wide seats with plenty of space made sure no sari got crushed because you were sharing the seat with somebody. Nobody called it a car. It was either their Amby or The Car.
All that is confined to the dust laden pages of history; the Amby is history too, its last few years adding a sorry footnote. Some felt sorry that the car could not keep up with the competition, others sad that some unmentionable elements actually saw in its big boot an opportunity to hoodwink the cops. Some used it as a taxi too, a sad comment on what was an august vehicle. Amidst all this, occasionally the car made news for positive things: like when some Delhi government ministers returned their fancy cars for an Ambassador, or when a rare Good Samaritan used the big, big car to ferry passengers at the time of a bus strike.
Those were little smiles for a car that gave us all lots of smiles. It was a first crush for many, it was a lasting commitment for many others.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Motoring/going-the-distance/article6169765.ece?homepage=true
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The_Goat
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Ambassador has been listed among the '50 cars that must be driven at least once in a lifetime.' It is rubbing shoulders with the other iconic classics like the RR Phantom, VW Beetle, the Jag E-Type, the Porsche 911, the Land Rover Defender, the Ford Mustang, the Mini and the Trabant among others!

http://www.msn.com/fr-fr/auto/actualite/50-voitures-%C3%A0-conduire-au-moins-une-fois-dans-sa-vie/ss-AA7SCLO

It should be a proud moment for India, folks! Our Amby is officially a worldwide legend!
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justbala
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The_Goat wrote:

Spiderguy252 wrote:
Above all, why was the only offered colour white? Surely they could (should) have diversified there, even when there was zero competition on the streets back in the 70s.


It was offered in several colours, not just white. My uncle bought an emerald green one in 1970, and it served him till 2009! It was in an excellent condition when he sold it too.

The white ones were mainly the government cars.
[/quote]

Amby came in multiple colours. We had a cream one, while my uncle had a black.

The one we had in the 80s was some shade of grey.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting. Long live Hindustan Motor.
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