Indian car market which sees a couple of international brands making their way into the country every now and then has come a long way from where it began. The country has witnessed a sea change, in terms of technology, styling, pricing and ride quality of cars over the last two decades, and there have been some beauties, now completely forgotten, which took the four-wheeler game several notches higher in the country.
The baap of all cars, Ambassador by India’s very own Hindustan Motors is right on top of the list. The iconic ‘Amby’ was used by people from all walks of life and was a star on the Indian roads for a very long time. This car will forever remain in many hearts as a trusted aide and for some as a member of the family.
Maruti 800, the car that brought Indian middle class close to the four-wheeler dream was nothing short of a revelation. The ‘First car’ of millions across India, was taken out of production in 2014 after many illustrious years on the Indian roads. Any list of iconic cars of India will be incomplete without the inclusion on the Maruti 800.
Premier Padmini 1100
The only possible rival to the Ambassador for a long time is the Premier Padmini. This iconic car was pretty popular through the 1980s, and has come to be associated with the Mumbai cityscape, in its kaali-peeli avatar. Though not domestically used by many, the car is still very popular on the Mumbai roads.
Tata Indica was the India’s first truly indigenous car, and it was well-proportioned and offered a great amount of space on the inside. It promised a great value undercutting the-then king of the Indian car market, the Maruti 800. While the original Indica was plagued by issues, its successor V2, introduced in 2001 sorted them all out and ensured the Indica enjoyed a solid run for several years.
The Standard 2000 was one of the few affordable luxury cars in the market those days at a price Rs. 2.2 lakh. The car came with a powerful AC, spacious interiors, power windows, and hydraulic power steering, which were missing in most cars in its time.
The first automobile to be designed and produced in India, Tata Sierra was a three-door SUV produced by Tata motors in 1991. The car was the first diesel vehicle to be accepted as a personal car in India and also came with first in class features like such as adjustable steering, power windows, power steering and a Tachometer. It was this car, that many Indians used for the off-road experiences.
Another forgotten beauty from the stables of the The Hindustan Motors, Contessa was one of the few Indian manufactured luxury cars in the market. Hindustan Contessa was a popular choice among government officials for a long time, as it offered features like power windows, power steering and air conditioning .
A 4×4 India learnt to off-road in, the Gypsy is close to many hearts. It has always had this macho vibe to it, helped in no small way by the fact, that it featured in several police fleets, is still a favourite with the army and is possibly the most successful Indian rally car of all time.