Matthew Jones03 June 2014

Hindustan Ambassador ceases production

It’s been 56 years, but India’s Morris-based icon is turning off its engine

Rolls Royces are England with tax discs, Cadillacs are America with doors, and Hindustans are India with four wheels. But after 56 years, Ambassador production has stopped.

Now, the more observant and/or bearded among you will notice that the Hindustan Ambassador looks a lot like a Morris Oxford. Which is mainly because it is one.

Back in 1942, Hindustan assembled knockdown kit versions of the Morris 10 in Port Okha, near Gujarat. 15 years and two iterations of Morris later, Hindustan started building the third-gen Oxford - renaming it the Ambassador - and didn't really stop...

For decades it was pretty much the only thing you could buy in India, and held 70 per cent of the market. Demand outstripped supply and yearlong waits were common, then a joint Indian-Japan venture between Maruti Suzuki began in the eighties, churning out the 800cc Maruti, and Ambassador sales started to wobble. The following decade, India opened its doors to every car manufacturer in the world, in doing so demoting the ‘Amby' to an anachronism.

Last year, the company only sold 2,200 Ambassadors. Not a great result when car sales totalled 1.8 million in 2014. Hindustan Motors promptly accumulated losses that overtook its worth, and it's been looking for investors since. In the meantime, production's been paused while it tries to sort out its finances.

Reckon there's a future for the the best taxi in the world?

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