The quintessential Ambassador is set to get its most radical makeover in the six decades of its history. The oldest face of Indian automobiles, which carries the legacy of the British Raj on its wheels, will undergo a complete change—from structural design to aerodynamics to aesthetics.
The car’s manufacturer, Hindustan Motors, is hoping that a new-look Amby will be able to compete with today’s modern cars and thus stop a slide into oblivion. The revamp began last December, and it will be at least a year before the results become evident. Ambassador’s familiar rounded rear squab and curvaceous sloping hood will give way to an aerodynamic bonnet with straight lines and a new boot with integrated tail lights. The new ambassador will also have new engine calibrations to suit the BSIV norms, safety features such as anti-lock brake systems.
New ambassador will also get alloy wheels and leather seas. There will also be an integrated music system and instrument cluster catering to the needs of the new generation. “There are a whole lot of plans for the Ambassador. We are working on several options and the changes are part of the plan. While some smaller changes will be introduced soon, larger macro variations will be incorporated in due course,” says Jha Manoj Jha, managing director, Hindustan Motors.
The transformation of the Amby, which is based on the British marquee Morris Oxford, is a last-ditch effort by Hindustan Motors to turn this retro platform into a car of popular choice among the likes of Honda City, Maruti SX4, Volkswagen Vento and Ford Fiesta. But can the Amby which was India’s mainstream car till the 80s when the Maruti 800 was launched, regain its long lost glory?
Over the years, the Amby has largely found fancy with the Indian political class, and it has been governments that have helped keep the 1948-established Uttarpara factory (in West Bengal) going till date.
But that support too has been declining of late. Sales of Ambassadors stood at 5,510 units in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year from 8,210 in fiscal year 2009-10.
“Its difficult for the Amby to regain its lost glory. The car has low public acceptance and is largely taken by government, which is also gradually moving to other brands with better safety and performance parameters,” said automotive expert Ranojoy Mukherji.
The last significant makeover of the Amby took place in 2004 when HM launched a re-designed version. Branded Avigo, the car drew influences from the Mini and the Porsche. It had retro hanging headlights and a classic clean plain front bonnet. But the Avigo could not set the Ganges on fire. HM will be hoping that the current revamp works as this may well be the last chance the company gets to keep the country’s oldest car factory running.
Source – EconomicTimes