By Mihika Jindal:
Almost 6 decades of exemplary narration of a typical Indian story. Almost 6 decades of active role in Indian politics, official convoys, distant family trips, Bollywood flicks, taxi-ing masses — our very own Ambassador, born in 1957, has been a remarkable insignia of Indian-ism.
With a roaring dhup-dhup engine and a voluptuous frame designed for comfort more than style, Ambassador has been one of the most comfortable and secure rides. Just like a boisterous grandfather who opens his arms to embrace all his children and grand-children in that one big hug, where each of the descendants find that personal, cozy, comforted space, the Ambassador (fondly called ‘Amby’) creates that symbol of space and comfort, truly epitomizing ‘Big Fat Indian Family Car’. Ideally designed with a standard 5 passenger capacity and equivalent boot space, it never stopped at that. One could always see people pouring out of the Ambassador in double digits; a non-descript, not so svelte exterior with a huge heart which could be filled up with passengers and luggage alike. A mother could send across her love in form of baskets full of garden fresh vegetables and one never had to calculate the luggage to be packed and carried for a road trip in the Ambassador.
The heart does sigh a heavy heave when the news flashes — Hindustan Motors (HM) suspends the manufacturing of Ambassador. The 1957 born car was the only domestically produced car then, which gave hope for economic self-reliance to India. The reasons being accorded for the discontinuation are low fuel efficiency, relatively heavy costs and the incapability of competing with the latest snazzy and flamboyant automobile entrants. With the onset of liberalization in 1990s and global auto brands gaining constant popularity, it unfortunately is not feasible for the age old Ambassador to rank high on the list of desirable cars. Modelled on a Morris Oxford, a Brit car, our Amby started losing out on the market when it faced a direct hit from the 1980 rival — Maruti 800, which was clearly more accessible and cost effective. The concept of family had shrunk and so the ‘family car’ got contracted too!
However, irrespective of the fact that HM has sealed its decision, it is not going to change and take away anything from the high and esteemed reputation and stature that the car has gained in all these 60 years. With the presence of the Ambassador so deeply inbred in India, it is going to take manyÂ years for India to wipe it off its street. With a huge existence of black and yellow taxis in Mumbai and Kolkata to the esteemed wagons of the high officials in the Armed Forces to the white fleet of the politicos, the Ambassador is as much a part of the Indian culture as the big red bindi adorned by an Indian woman.
Having been cradled in the comfy seats to have taken meals enroute to having felt like the entire household is on wheels, it makes an inherent part of our yesteryear memories. With the end of Ambassador’s tenure, it will definitely join the league of the Legends that shall be etched in our minds forever. The future generations will undeniably look up in awe and admiration to Ambassador owners who will pompously showcase their ‘now collectible’ and bask in the glory of proud ownership. Amby, you were, are and will forever remain unmatched. We will miss you!