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Father’s Day Special: Icons Of The Indian Automobile Industry

Folks, it’s father’s day, and there could not be any better excuse to celebrate the legacy of the Indian automobile industry. Well, you must be wondering what the connection between automobiles and father is? Haha, this question bear out as fathers and cars usually go hand in hand. The man’s sense of solid bond with his family could be incomplete without a car, especially for a typical auto-enthusiast. Though the Indian automobile industry has come a long way, but the charm of history still remains a celebration.So,on this special occasion, let’s go on a nostalgic journey on the most iconic cars your dad drove.

1) Hindustan Motors Contessa

Hindustan Motors Contessa is one of those iconic cars with all the characteristics to be called the Muscle Car of India. The big bulky front end, oversized rectangular headlamp unit, and voluminous appeal gave it a larger-than-life appeal. Touted as a luxury car, Contessa was a favourite among VIPs, government officials and the wealthy class of people during the 80s. HM borrowed the technology from General Motor’s Vauxhall Victor VX, which went out of production in the late 70s. The Contessa debuted in the Indian market with a 1.5-litre B-Series engine that used to produce 50hp. Later, Contessa got an upgrade with a 1.8-litre petrol engine sourced from Isuzu Motors to enhance performance. Well, if you question its power-to-weight ratio, then you will note its slow performance on the road. Sadly, the car could not cope-up with the competition and went out of production in 2002.

2)Hindustan Motors Ambassador

The HM gave birth to one of the legendary names for the Indian automobile market- ‘The AMBASSADOR’ aka AMBY. The car symbolized power back then as it was the go-to car of officialdom and politicians. The Amby, inspired by the Morris Oxford Series, went into production after independence. The first-gen Amby used to produce 50 hp of power and around 100Nm of torque from a 1.5-litres, Carburetted, inline, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder engine. Amby went on multiple facelifts throughout its five-decade presence in the market. On 24th May 2014, the production line of the Hindustan Ambassador was finally shut down, bringing an end to the car’s run.

3) Fiat 1100D(Premier Padmini)

The year 1964 saw the birth of the Fiat1100D as a competitor to the Amby. But, after around a decade, it was touted as Premier Padmini. Well, very few people would know that Premier Padmini is nothing but a Fiat 1100. The car used to run on a 1089cc, 4-Cylinders, 2-valves/cylinder, Carbureted, Petrol engine that produced 40 hp of power and 71 Nm of torque. The engine came mated with a 4-speed manual gearbox sending power to the rear wheels. The car also underwent facelifts and upgrades to cope with the demand. Despite its popularity, it could not hold its strength for long as the advent of a more fuel-efficient diesel engine took place. The car went out of production in the year 2000.

4) Maruti 800

The name Maruti 800 needs no introduction as it lured the enthusiasm among auto enthusiasts, who know might be our father would also among those enthusiasts. The car blessed the Indian auto industry for about 31 years. The VFM and appeal factor were driven by the Maruti 800, which made it the highest-selling car for many years. The car was powered by an inline 3-cylinder 796cc petrol engine, producing 37 hp of power and 59 Nm of torque. The car’s power-to-weight ratio made it one of those fun-to-drive cars. The 800 featured a front-wheel-drive layout for the first time in India. The car was an instant hit in the Indian market, but to compete with modernization, the manufacturer decided to end the road of 800 in the year 2014.

5) Maruti 1000 ( Maruti Suzuki Esteem)

Enthusiastic cars have fewer sales volumes but a great appeal to it. India/Indians only appreciate enthusiast cars but never buy them. People cherishing enthusiast cars are rare, and one who owns them is worthy of a salute. Wait, wait, wait, don’t bash me with the cost factor now, especially today. Well, to your surprise, the Maruti 1000 has one of the highest waiting periods to buy it. In 1990, the car came with a 970cc naturally aspirated engine producing 46hp of max power. On subsequent iterations and facelifts, the name was then replaced by Esteem. The car got an update with a 1.3-litre powerful motor producing around 85hp of power. Thanks to its versatility and dynamics, it was a cherished car for all motorsport enthusiasts. Sadly, car production ended in 2000 due to low sales.

6) Maruti Gypsy

Off-road fans, anyone? The Maruti Gypsy was the only best weapon of choice back then. The car might be your dad’s off-road aficionado. The Gypsy was launched in India back in the year 1985. The first-gen Gypsy ran on a 970cc carburetted, inline, naturally aspirated, 4-cylinder engine churning out 49hp of power and 72Nm of torque. Gypsy had a ‘freewheeling’ mechanism, which helped to make it a rear-wheel-drive layout when AWD was not required. The Gypsy went into a serious upgrade to a 1.3-litre engine in 1996. Well, due to 2000 emission norms, Maruti decided to upgrade the engine with a 4-valve per cylinder design and a multipoint fuel injection system. This upgrade gave a significant improvement in power, torque and efficiency. Since 2000, the car has remained almost unchanged till 2019. Maruti Suzuki did not find Gypsy upgrading and put it out of production in 2019.






TopGear Magazine May 2024