Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Ambassador of glitz and glamour
This blog is not fairly in time, for it’s been a good few months since Auto- Expo 2008 that came about in January. I decided to put it down anyway because there are quite a few out there who aren’t aware of the sensation our good old ambassador has created among international hotrod freaks. If one happens to gaze across an Indian road not many of us would take a second look at the ambassador. Not only that we are too accustomed to the looks that had undergone little change since it rolled out of the assembly lines of Hindustan motors in the late 1950s(but for the fitting of Isuzu 1800 cc engine sometime later) but it does not even seem close to winning a road race of luxurious SUVs and smallest-and-most-affordable-car-ever-mades .
But all the same it brings in me a sense of nostalgia looking at India’s first car- an Icon of India’s independence from the British rule. Despite the fact that its entire construction is based on the Morris Oxford series, it indeed was the first ever car to demonstrate the fact that India was capable of independent automobile production. As luck would have it when the oxford series had already demoted a decade after the launch of ambassador, Hindustan Motors still manages to sell about 20,000 ambassadors a year.
This car enjoyed a monopoly till the introduction of Indica that took away the taxi car market from Ambassador. The narrowing price difference between petrol and diesel also eroded the value in investing in an old dated Ambassador. HM never bothered to rationalize the price of the brand. Today an Ambassador costs more than Rs 4, 80,000. At that price one could afford a more luxurious Indigo sedan. HM launched a radically designed Ambassador variant Avigo in 2004 in an attempt to boost the sagging sales. Although the styling was radical, the customer response wasn’t …well… very promising.
Celebrated car designer DC decided to give this car a reincarnation something like Holden’s wild hot rod concept- EFIJY , a remodel of 953 FJ Holden. So retaining the design cues and the fabled spaciousness of the old ambassador he gave it a few futuristic touches, a low slung body, oversized wheels all from the hotrod design manual and there we had the all new AMBIEROD that set the ramps on fire during Autoexpo 2008. Before it could see the faint flicker of recognition in the onlookers’ eyes , it blew their eyeballs off with the style and the exteriors bathed in cherenkov radiation.
Open the hydraulically-actuated gull-wing doors and you are transported into the future. It’s an intelligent car, with enough computing power to rival a supercomputer. Menu-driven LCD screens display not only the entertainment options, but even the driver’s instrumentation. You have movies and internet on demand. Cameras have taken over the function of mirrors. Internet and videoconferencing-enabled flat bed and multi-coloured mood lighting all makes the Ambierod a retro-futuristic car, the looks of which are derived from the American hotrods.
The car that had been looked at as the most economic one of all times has become the most expensive designed cars ever showcased at the Autoexpo with a price tag of US $1 million ( Rs 4 crores). The car that looked like a mirrored version of Hillman minx now looks nothing less of Ferraris and Lamborghinis straight out of a hotrod. The car that raced the bumpy Indian roads with Premier Padminis is now on the ramps with a jaw dropping glamour giving hotrod freaks a thud in the heart and costing limo owners a fortune for its possession. An ambassador of reliability and reparability is now one of style, glitz and glamour. Well I’m mighty proud. Are you??