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Premier Padmini was an automobile manufactured in India from 1964 to 2000, although the "Padmini" name was not used until 1967 - the earlier cars were sold as the "Fiat 1100 Delight". The car is popularly called "Fiat". Premier Automobiles Limited, the erstwhile flagship company of India's Walchand Hirachand Group, assembled Fiat's 1100-series cars from the 1950s until 1997. Within the very limited Indian market, and especially in comparison with its main competitor the Hindustan Ambassador, the Padmini was considered quite sporting.

History

The Fiat 1100D, based on the Fiat 1200 GranLuce Berlina, debuted in India in 1964 with a carburetted 1,089 cc four-cylinder engine rather than the 1,221 cc engine fitted to the GranLuce in Italy. With a 7.8:1 compression ratio, it put out 40 bhp (30 kW) at 4,800 rpm with a maximum torque of 7.20 kg·m (71 N·m; 52 lb·ft) at 3,000 rpm. The original transmission was a four-speed manual gearbox, with an un-synchronized first, that drove the rear wheels through a live axle. It had a column-mounted shifter, on the left-hand side of the steering column. Weighing 895 kg (1,970 lb) the car could attain a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph).

Premier manufactured it at their Kurla, Mumbai plant until they sold a majority stake to Fiat SpA in September 1997. First sold as the Fiat 1100 Delight, the 1100D was preceded in the Indian market by the Fiat 1100-103. It was also briefly sold as the Premier President (only for the 1973 model year) until it finally settled down as the Premier Padmini.

By the mid-eighties, a more powerful version which offered 44 bhp (33 kW) at 5,000 rpm was also available. Claimed top speed increased to 119 km/h (74 mph). The Padmini was only available with petrol engines until 1996, when they introduced a diesel variant.

Numerous examples still abound as taxicabs in Mumbai. Many of these taxis now run on CNG for fuel economy. While all cars built by Premier themselves were four-door sedans, small companies also offered other bodywork, mainly in the form of estates. The Fiat 1100-D's original design remained unchanged, aside from some minor grill facelifts in the eighties and the removal of the front-door vent windows at some point in the early nineties.

Along with the Hindustan Ambassador, the Padmini harks back to the socialist India of pre-liberalization, before the reforms program of 1991. Classic Car Clubs have since been started by Fiat enthusiasts.