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 near Kolkata, West Bengal. Some prominent Indian politicians, such as Sonia Gandhi, use the Hindustan Ambassador. When the Birlas wanted a new model to replace their already old Hindustan models based on Morris Oxford Series II (Hindustan Landmaster), they scouted for the then-new Morris Oxford Series III. The car initially came with a side-valve engine but was later improved to an overhead-valve engine. Also the car at that point was quite an innovation with a fully enclosed monocoque chassis, which is why it is spacious inside.
Hindustan Motors Limited (HM), India's pioneering automobile manufacturing company and flagship company of the C.K. Birla Group, was established just before Indian independence, in 1942 by B.M. Birla. They began operations in a small assembly plant in Port Okha near Gujarat.
The Amby, as it is affectionately called, has been in continuous production since its inception, with very few changes to its frame.
In 1948, Hindustan Motors shifted its assembly plant from Port Okha in Gujarat to Uttarpara in West Bengal's Hooghly district and strengthened its manufacturing capacity in the automobile segment.
The 1954 Morris Oxford series II in India was licence-built at Uttarpara, (Hooghly dist.), West Bengal, three years after its debut in England and labelled as the 1957 Hindustan Landmaster. It had a rounded rear squab and a curvaceous sloping hood. Engaged in the manufacture of the Ambassador, Contessa and utility vehicles like the Trekker, Porter and Pushpak, the plant also has to its credit, many innovations and improvements in the automobile industry in India. Hindustan Motors is the only manufacturing facility in the world to manufacture parts for Bedford trucks currently.
Ambassador Mark I to Mark IV
In 1957 all the tooling of the British Morris Oxford Series III was transferred to India. The car was renamed the Ambassador and series-production started in 1957.
Styling changes from the Morris Oxford series II (Landmaster) to Morris Oxford series III (Ambassador) included deep headlamp cowls and small rear wing "tail fins" – all the rage in 1956. The dashboard and steering wheel were completely redesigned. The Landmaster's flat-plane two-spoke steering wheel gave way to a stylish dished steering wheel with three spokes made-up of four wires per spoke, for the Ambassador. Also a new, dimpled hood made its debut. These models had a 1,489 cc side-valve BMC B-series petrol engine. In 1959 the side-valve engine was replaced by a 1489 cc, 55 bhp overhead-valve BMC B-series petrol engine.
In 1963 it underwent a minor frontal facelift with a closely chequered grill and was named as the Ambassador Mark II. As with other British designed Mark cars, while there was never really any Ambassador Mark I, the arrival of the Mark II got people calling the older model, Mark I. In this period the Sales Manager, Helmuth Lindeman, tried to persuade Birla Senior to use an Ambassador, as that would in his view, have improved the quality.
In 1975 another minor facelift to the same grille and a much bigger frontal facelift was turned out as the Mark 3, the most popular face of the Ambassador.
In 1979 the Ambassador got another facelift with a smaller chequered grill and square park lamps and separate blinker lamps. This model was named as Mark 4. In addition to the existing petrol version, a diesel variant was launched which was powered by a 1,500 cc, 37 bhp BMC B-series diesel engine. It was the first diesel car in India and was well received by the Indians. Mark 4 was the last of the Mark cars. Later it was renamed Ambassador Nova. The Ambassador of 1990 was virtually identical to the original, with most changes being cosmetic. This technological stagnation was mainly because of the protectionistic policies being pursued by the Indian government at the time, and there was little willingness on the part of Indian companies to innovate.