Friday, June 8, 2012

The Ambassador car in India



When I arrived in India in 1975, the main car I saw being used was the Ambassador.
Photo from David And His Bike Go To India
That's India in green.
It was a British style car and seemed to have a 1940's silhouette, all rounded, clunky and solid. It was something like the cars I'd seen in the old black and white movies.
It was the car that was used as a taxi everywhere in India at that time in the 1970's and 1980's, before the modernization of India by Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi took over control of India after his mother was assassinated in 1984 and ended what was called The License Raj, which his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru had put in place when the British left India in 1947. I did not like the new economy in India at first but, maybe it has been for the best. (By the way Indira Gandhi is no relation to Mahatma Gandhi).

The Ambassador is roomy inside, like an old New York City checkered cab.

The Ambassador car fits beautifully into India's somewhat surreal combination of elements. It is spacious,comfortable for the tropics, sturdy, slow but powerful.



It still had something of the feel of the British Raj

yet fit the Indian lifestyle
Pulling a Chariot with Hooks in the Back
Photo credit: Lou Walter Wilson

A 1960 Hindustan Ambassador a car manufactured by Hindustan Motors of India. 
Photo credit: Sucheta Das/Associated Press

View from inside, as a passenger of a taxi

Room for altars of various types. Photo credit: youcsb
Enough ceiling room for turbans
Sikh driver. Credit: Mosseby

I was told that when the British left being colonial rulers, the Indians kept on using the same factory for the Ambassador cars, year after year. So even if the silhouette of the body were the same, the same style engine parts, they were produced new, every year, which for me, an American, was a surprisingly novel and practical idea.


THE AMBASSADOR - THE FIRST AMONG INDIAN CARS
Ambassador - the first car to be manufactured in India, has been ruling the Indian roads ever since its inception in 1948. Originally based on Morris Oxford (United Kingdom, 1948), the Ambassador has been undergoing a series of changes, adapting to customer expectations.
With upgraded manufacturing facilities in Uttarpara, West Bengal, Hindustan Motors Limited is geared for production of a more contemporary version of the Ambassador, with features catering to the needs of the present generation.
Ambassador, the only automobile to ply Indian roads for more than five decades now, has carved a special niche for itself in the passenger car segment. It's dependability, spaciousness and comfort factor have made it the most preferred car for generations of Indians. The Ambassador's time-tested, tough, accommodating and practical characteristics make it a truly Indianised car.
This is a quote from the 2004 official Hindustan Ambassador website at http://www.hmambassador.com/history.asp


From the Wikipedia entry: The Hindustan Ambassador is a car manufactured by Hindustan Motors of India. It has been in production since 1958 with few modifications or changes and is based on the Morris Oxford III model, first made by the Morris Motors LImited at Cowley, Oxford in the United Kingdom from 1956 to 1959.
Despite its British origins, the Ambassador is considered as a definitive Indian car and is fondly called "The king of Indian roads". The automobile is manufactured by Hindustan Motors at its Uttarpara plant[1] near KolkataWest Bengal.

Typically the Ambassador cars on the road were black, yellow or white but there were also other colors too, mostly a mushroom color, ecru.

The window glass on the side is flat, which felt very old fashioned in 1975. It seems that the windows in the new version are the same (how delightful!)

The boot of the car is generous and reminds me these days of that fun song, I like big butts.
A 1975 model, photo credit
According to the Car Trade site, the ambassador gets ok mileage per liter (4 liters approx to a gallon. Well 3.78 liters): Hindustan Motors has offered its Ambassador with three engines options, namely petrol, diesel and CNG. All these engines are performance oriented and deliver impressive mileages. The CNG unit of Ambassador enables the car to run around 16 kmpkg, whereas the petrol version delivers a fuel economy of 10 kmpl. On the other hand, the diesel engine of Ambassador offers the mileage of 14 kmpl, which is sufficient in its segment.
Ambassador was the first iteration of a sedan in India and ruled the market for more than two decades. The manufacturer, Hindustan Motors, is looking forward to launch a facelifted version of the car. The model runs on petrol and is primarily used by government officials in the country. Rs. 4.31 - Rs. 6.55 lakhs
Ex-showroom Price (Mumbai)

In India one hundred thousand is called one lakh. Today one hundred thousand rupees is $1805.70. So 4.31 to 6.55 lakhs, the cost of an Ambassador car, today, would translate into dollars as being $7782.56 to $11,827.33.

A nifty rupee/dollar conversion site here. (Just for your info, one crore is 10 million. One crore rupees is, today, $180,569.68)
INRUSD
coinmill.com
50.00.90
100.01.81
200.03.61
500.09.03
1000.018.06
2000.036.11
5000.090.28
10,000.0180.57
20,000.0361.14
50,000.0902.85
100,000.01805.70
200,000.03611.39
500,000.09028.48
1,000,000.018,056.97
2,000,000.036,113.94
5,000,000.090,284.84
10,000,000.0180,569.68
INR rate
June 7, 2012
USDINR
coinmill.com
0.5027.7
1.0055.4
2.00110.8
5.00276.9
10.00553.8
20.001107.6
50.002769.0
100.005538.0
200.0011,076.1
500.0027,690.1
1000.0055,380.3
2000.00110,760.6
5000.00276,901.4
10,000.00553,802.8
20,000.001,107,605.7
50,000.002,769,014.2
100,000.005,538,028.4
USD rate
June 8, 2012
In Calcutta, now Kolkata

In New Delhi by the government buildings (check out the cute curtains in the rear view window. So typically Indian that, where the summer sun is intensely hot.)

On Lodhi Road, New Delhi


The Morris Oxford III, on which the Hindustan Ambassador was based.

Inside the ambassador engine, a pic taken from this charming blog, Sharing the Globe.

A dead Ambassador from zlight's photostream  

An Ambassador (often called an Amby by Indians), packed with Indian textiles. Pic taken from this wonderful blog, A Bloomsbury Life.
 Jalopnik saysBased on the 1958 Morris Oxford, the Amabassador put India on wheels. An Isuzu engine motivates it now, and the body is wonderfully archaic. I'd love to have one of these. It's got a long heritage, but I'm a bit afraid for its longer-term survival. The triple killjoys of environmental responsibility, increasing cheap competition, and driver safety are always looming, ready to pounce. I think the Amby's got about a 25% chance of making it out of this decade.

And, not to overlook my friend, Tobias Moss' marvelous Karma Kabs and Karma Kars!
He has redone Ambassador cars, uses them for weddings and other events in England, a fun idea.




The Ambassador car specs from the I Love India website:


Ambassador Car

Ambassador Car


Ambassador has been serving Indian customers since 1948. It has maintained the base features of its brandname, and, at the same time, it has readily accepted needed changes in its specifications. A tough and all-terrain vehicle, it is good for any kind of road condition. Ambassador Classic, a new model, is a combination of usefulness and technical prowess.

Design and Interior
It has several features like company fitted CNG, enough space for leg room, comfortable arrangement of seating, power steering, multi point fuel injection, sturdy and tough structure, 5 speed gear box, easy repair ability etc.

The car has front independent suspension with torsion bar springs and anti roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers. It has semi-elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers. Its striking features are Multi Point Fuel Injection, Company Fitted CNG, toughness and spacious interior. Its latest models have Improved suspension, Smoother gears, Ergonomically designed plush seats and wider tyres.

Variants and Price

Petrol
1800 ISZ MPFI
Diesel
1.5 E2 DSL
Classic 2000 DSZ
CNG/LPG
1.5 E2 CNG/LPG
1800 ISZ with CNG/LPG

Engine
Grand 2000 DSZ, Classic 2000 DSZ AC PS and Grand 2000 DSZ PW CL variants of the car are powered by 4-cylinder engine, which produces a power of 52 PS @ 4200 rpm and a torque of 106 Nm @ 2200 rpm.

Classic 1800 ISZ, Classic 1800 ISZ MPFI PS and Grand 1800 ISZ MPFI PW CL variants are powered by MPFI with 4-Cylinder OHC, which churns out a power of 75 PS @ 5000 rpm and a torque of 130 Nm @ 3000 rpm.

Avigo 2000 DSZ variant of Hindustan is powered by a diesel engine, which generates a power of 56 PS @ 4000 rpm and a torque of112 Nm @ 2500 rpm.

Grand 1800 ISZ and Classic 1800 ISZ, the CNG variants of the car, are equipped with 4-cylinder OHC engine, which generates a power of 75 PS @ 5000 rpm and a torque of130 Nm @ 3000 rpm.

Safety
Safety features incorporated in Ambassador are
  • Free suspension with torsion bar springs and anti roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
  • Partially elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers
  • Dash mounted, Hydraulic, tandem master cylinder with Servo assisted front disc 228.6 mm dia, drums on rear wheels

ENGINE
TypeMPFI with 4 Cylinder OHC
FuelPetrol
Capacity1817CC
Bore / Stroke84/ 82 mm
Compression Ratio8.5 : 1
Max. Power74 HP at 5000 r.p.m.
Max. Torque13.3 Kg at 3000 r.p.m
CoolingWater cooled
TRANSMISSION
Clutch TypeDry Disc
Diameter215mm
Gear BoxAll synchromesh ; 5 speed gearbox ; including overdrive
Gear Ratio1st - 3.737:1
2nd - 1.963:1
3rd - 1.364:1
4th - 1.000:1
5th - 0.776:1
Reverse - 3.402:1
SUSPENSION
FrontIndependent suspension with torsion bar springs and anti roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
RearSemi - elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
BRAKES
TypeHydraulic, dash mounted, tandem master cylinder with Servo assisted front disc 228.6 mm dia, drums on rear wheels.
ParkingRear wheels.
STEERING
TypeHelical Rack & Pinion
Overall Ratio22.2 : 1
Turning Radius5.4 mts
WHEELS
Wheel Size4J X 15
Tyre size165 R 15 (Radial)
BODY
TypeUnitised
No. of Doors4
ELECTRICALS
Battery12 volts 55 Amp hour
Alternator12V, 45A
DIMENSIONS
Length (Overall)4325 mm
Width (Overall)1662 mm
Height (Overall)1593 mm
Wheel Base2464 mm
Kerb Weight1104 Kg.
GVW1554 Kg.
FUEL TANK
Capacity42 ltrs

1.5E2 DSL

ENGINE
Type4 Cylinder OHV
FuelDiesel
Capacity1489CC
Bore / Stroke73.0 / 88.9 mm
Compression Ratio23 : 1
Max. Power37 HP at 4000 r.p.m
Max. Torque8.5 Kg at 2250 r.p.m
CoolingWater cooled
TRANSMISSION
Clutch TypeSingle Plate Dry Disc.
Diameter216 mm
Gear Box4 speed gearbox, synchro -mesh on 2nd, 3rd & 4th
Gear Ratio1st - 3.807
2nd - 2.253
3rd - 1.506
4th - 1.000
Reverse - 3.807
Final Drive Ratio4.875
SUSPENSION
FrontIndependent upper and lower arms with torsion bar, springs and anti roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
RearSemi - elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers. Metallic bushes for longer life.
BRAKES
TypeHydraulic, dash mounted tandem master cylinder 231.8mm dia. Drums on all 4 wheels, 2 leading shoes on front, and leading & trailing on rear.
ParkingRear wheels.
STEERING
TypeHelical Rack and Pinion
Overall Ratio22.2 : 1
Turning Radius5.4 mtrs
Lock to Lock4.0 turns
WHEELS
Wheel Size4J X 15
Tyre size165 R 15 (Radial)
BODY
TypeUnitised
No. of Doors4
ELECTRICALS
Battery12 Volt, 75 Amp. Hour
Alternator40 AMP
DIMENSIONS
Length (Overall)4325 mm
Width (Overall)1622 mm
Height (Overall)1600 mm (Cross ply tyres) /1593mm(Radial tyres)
Wheel Base2464 mm
Ground Clearance159mm(Crossply tyres), 152 mm (Radial tyres)
Kerb Weight1200 Kg.
GVW1650 Kg.

Classic 2000 DSZ

ENGINE
Type4 Cylinder OHC
FuelDiesel
Capacity1995CC
Bore / Stroke84/90 mm
Compression Ratio21 : 1
Max. Power51 HP at 4200 r.p.m.
Max. Torque10.8 Kg at 2200 r.p.m
CoolingWater cooled
TRANSMISSION
Clutch TypeDry Disc, 200 mm Dia.
Gear Box5 forward (including overdrive) 1 reverse
All synchromesh
Gear Ratio1st - 3.737:1
2nd - 1.963:1
3rd - 1.364 :1
4th - 1.000:1
5th - 0.776:1
Reverse - 3.402:1
Final Drive Ratio3.900:1
DriveRear
SUSPENSION
FrontIndependent upper and lower arms with torsion bar springs and telescopic double acting shock absorbers
RearSemi - elliptical springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers. Metallic bushes for long life.
BRAKES
ServiceServo assisted, dual circuit hydraulic
FrontDisc
RearDrum
Hand BrakeRear wheels
STEERING
TypeHelical Rack and pinion
Overall Ratio22.2 : 1
Turning Radius5.4 mtrs
Lock to Lock4.0 turns
WHEELS
Wheel Size4J X I5
Tyre size165 / 80 R 15 (Radial)
BODY
TypeUnitised
No. of Doors4
ELECTRICALS
Battery12 Volt, 75 Amp. Hour
Alternator12V , 55A
DIMENSIONS
Length (Overall)4325 mm
Width (Overall)1662 mm
Height (Overall)1600 mm
Wheel Base2464 mm
Ground Clearance152mm
Kerb Weight1200 Kg.
GVW1650 Kg.

1.5 E2 CNG/LPG

ENGINE
Type4 Cylinder OHC
FuelCNG
Capacity1489CC
Bore / Stroke73/89 mm
Compression Ratio8.3 : 1
Max. Power40 HP at 4200 r.p.m.
Max. Torque82 NM at 2500 r.p.m
CoolingWater cooled
TRANSMISSION
Clutch TypeDry Disc(Diaphragm) 203mm dia
Gear Box4 speed
Gear Ratio1st - 3.807
2nd - 2.253
3rd - 1.506
4th - 1.000 :1
Reverse - 3.807
Final Drive Ratio4.875
DriveRear
SUSPENSION
FrontIndependent suspension with torsion bar springs and Anti-roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
RearSemi - elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
BRAKES
ServiceTandem master cylinder with 232 dia drum brakes with 2 leading shoes in front and 232 dia drum brakes with 1leading and 1 trailing shoes in rear.
ParkingForward pull type through cables on rear wheels only
STEERING
TypePower assisted Rack and Pinion
Overall Ratio14.73 :1
WHEELS
Wheel Size4J X 15
Tyre size5.90 X 15 - 6 PR (Crossply) 165 SR 15 (Radial)
BODY
TypeUnitised
No. of Doors4
ELECTRICALS
Battery12 Volt, 75 Amp.
Alternator12V , 40A
DIMENSIONS
Length (Overall)4325 mm
Width (Overall) (Cross ply/Radial tyres)1622 mm
Height (Overall)1600 mm (Crossply tyres), 1593mm(Radial tyres)
Wheel Base2464 mm
Ground Clearance159mm(Crossply tyres),152mm(Radial tyres)

1800 ISZ with CNG/LPG

ENGINE
Type4 Cylinder OHC
FuelCNG
Capacity1817CC
Bore / Stroke84/82 mm
Compression Ratio8.5 : 1
Max. Power75 HP at 5000 r.p.m.
Max. Torque130 NM at 3000 r.p.m
CoolingWater cooled
TRANSMISSION
Clutch TypeDry Disc (Diaphragm) with 215 mm Dia.
Gear BoxAll synchromesh 5 speed gearbox including overdrive
Gear Ratio1st - 3.737
2nd - 1.963
3rd - 1.364
4th - 1.000
5th- 0.776
Reverse - 3.402
Final Drive Ratio3.90
DriveRear
SUSPENSION
FrontIndependent suspension with torsion bar springs and Anti-roll bar with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
RearSemi - elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers.
BRAKES
ServiceServo assisted dual circuit, hydraulic with 210.8mm dia, disc brakes on front wheels. 228.6mm dia treading trailing drum brakes on rear.
ParkingForward pull type through cables on rear wheels only.
STEERING
TypeHelical Rack and pinion
Overall Ratio22.2:1
Turning Circle Dia10.8 mtrs
WHEELS
Wheel Size4J X 15
Tyre size5.90 X 15 - 6 PR (Crossply) 165 R 15 (Radial) / 165/80 R15(Radial)
BODY
TypeUnitised
No. of Doors4
ELECTRICALS
Batterty12 Volt, 55 Amp. Hour
Alternator12V , 45A
DIMENSIONS
Length (Overall)4325 mm
Width (Overall) (Cross ply/Radial tyres)1622 mm
Height (Overall)1600 mm (Crossply tyres), 1593mm(Radial tyres)
Wheel Base2464 mm
Ground Clearance159mm(Crossply tyres),152mm(Radial tyres)
Kerb Weight1104 Kg
GVW1554 Kg


Basanti, the Bollywood Amby

The end of the road for the Ambassador.

After more than 50 years, Hindustan Motors ended production of the iconic Ambassador, the first car solely sourced and produced in India.

9 comments:

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