History on Wheels
Photo by Shome Basu
My dad’s Ambassador was my favourite. My sister and I were so proud of that Mark II model; it had been the source of much fun. Our entire extended family used the car — sometimes it would ferry as many as 10 of us at a time. On 10 December 1983, we were on our way back from a wedding when our car was struck by another Amby, a Mark IV. It flew, toppled over and landed on its tyres. None of us suffered a scratch, just a little discomfort in our limbs and necks. The sturdy machine saw us home, but it took two years for us to muster up the courage to get back into the car. Dad eventually sold it, at the insistence of my uncle, for Rs 5,000. It was worth more as scrap.
Based on the British Morris Oxford III, the Ambassador was an icon of Indian roads, the vehicle of choice for VIPs, taxi drivers and families alike. Five generations of the car were churned out over the years at Hindustan Motors’ plant in Uttarpara, near Kolkata, before it downed its shutters in June. The Amby might not be rolling off assembly lines any more, but it will forever be a part of India’s history. Here are a few glimpses of the mean machine as it drives off into the sunset.