Production of Indian saloon could halt after 50 years
2 May 2007

After almost 50 years, it could be the end of the road for the Hindustan Ambassador.The Ambassador, which is based on the series three Morris Oxford, has been in production in India since 1958. But industrial disputes at its manufacturer, Hindustan Motors of Uttarpara, Bengal, mean that the factory hasn’t produced a car for over three weeks.Striking workers aren’t letting supplies into the factory, and no new cars are coming out. Sales of the ageing Ambassador have been stalling for some while, as Indian buyers turn to newer, more comfortable and more advanced cars; this strike could be the end of the road.The Ambassador has been updated over the past half-century. Air-conditioning and power steering are now options, and the engines have long since changed from the original BMC B-series unit. Today’s Ambassador buyers can choose between 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre diesels, or a 1.8-litre Isuzu-based petrol engine. There’s even a model that can run on compressed natural gas.But despite this, the Ambassador counts for only around one per cent of the 1.4million new cars sold in India each year. A new car from industrial giant Tata – briefly famous in the UK for producing the ill-fated CityRover – could force the Ambassador off the road for ever.

Other long-lived cars

The VW Golf Mk1 is still made in South Africa, updated with a Skoda Fabia dashboard, and sold as the Citi Golf.The Land Rover Defender is still loosely based on the same design as it has been since 1948.

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