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Old 29th November 2021, 12:21   #16
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

I have fond memories of the HM Ambassador and Premier Padmini but not from an ownership perspective.

We were (to put it bluntly) too poor to afford a car for a long time, I was born at a time when a lot of people were giving up their Padmini's and Ambassadors for shiny new Maruti's and Hyundai's (we did end up getting our first car ever in 2005, a WagonR LXI).

But there were 3 families on our road that had 2 Mark 1 Ambassadors and a Black Fiat 1100 between them which they refused sell as all 3 cars were in basically showroom condition after all those decades. It was a delight to see them drive. Last saw those 3 cars when we moved out from that house around 2010.

I always used to tell myself as a kid that someday I'd have the "Big 3" of Indian Automobiles in my garage aka the Standard Herald/HM Ambassador and Premier Padmini.

I still have a big wide grin on my face whenever I see an Ambassador or Padmini on the road
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Old 29th November 2021, 12:29   #17
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Thanks for the post Visum. You certainly revived memories of the 'golden days'. I still consider the Amby to be the safest car to go on long drives. It may not have been the most reliable, but it was the safest because you could fix it anywhere, even if the fix was temporary. Today, we hear of people who are left stranded because something went wrong. Not so with the Amby. Today, when we open the bonnet of the car, we can only admire how well the engineers have designed the engine bay. In the Amby, when you opened the bonnet, everything was accessible. There was oodles of space.

Coming back to the Amby being the safest car. Simply, you would never get stranded, and there would be someone, even a mechanic in a village, who could fix it. Here is an example of how versatile it was.

It was two weeks after Mrs Gandhi was dead. It was still tense, especially around the Delhi outskirts area (NCR happened later). Roads were generally empty, now it was sparse. In this environment, we decided to go on a picnic in Sohna. The ride was pleasant, and we could push the car to 80. Well, that was nearly the max the good old Amby could do. On the way back, somewhere before Gurgaon, I noticed the ignition lamp was lit. Gurgaon was nothing like it is today. t was more like an assortment of villages, like when you are on the highway. You see some hutments in a distance. Anyway, returning to the story, I realised that the dynamo was not working (we used to call it the dynamo, today it is the alternator). Got out of the car, opened the bonnet and realised that the dynamo belt had ripped apart. My friend, who was not very knowledgeable about cars, offered to go to a village and get help. I in the meantime, with my other friends, debated what were our options. Could we return to Delhi before the battery ran out etc.

After half an hour my friend returned. He had a big smile on his face. He had bought the replacement belt after considerable effort, convincing the shopkeeper to open the shop. The mechanic, who was a Sardar, had disappeared. But triumphantly, he pused the belt under our nose. "You damn fool, you have bought a Matador (a pick-up van of those days, no longer available) fan belt" was my reaction. His smile Vanished, and now he started giving excuses on how hard he had worked to get this. My other friends asked if we could do something.

This is where the beauty of the ambassador came to the fore, and why I consider it to be the safest car.

The belt was quite useless as it is as it was too large. So I picked up a big stone and placed it between the dynamo and the engine so that the belt got some tension. I pushed the dynamo even further away from the engine and lowered the stone so that it remained stuck and firm. Started the engine, and voila, the ignition lamp was out. Now we could return to Delhi, albeit, driving at a slow speed, so as not to lose the stone. Yes, we returned to Delhi before sundown.

Now you know why I consider the Amby to be the safest car. Can you imagine doing something like this with the new hi-tech cars? Yes I miss my Amby
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Old 29th November 2021, 13:27   #18
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Originally Posted by ABHI_1512 View Post
As a kid, taking the drives through the lush green tea gardens of Upper Assam in those two vehicles meant the world to me.

Do let me know if it was Karshingsa or some place else in Papum Pare !!
We may be out of Assam but Assam will never be out of us
For me the Ambassador came much later. And I remember being a part of similar drives as yourself in my Grandfather's Landmaster (Ambassadors' predecessor) when I was a kid.

Sadly, I do not remember exactly which place it was but I distinctly remember that it was near Karunabari and somewhat rhymed with Kaziranga. So it very well might have been Karsingsa indeed

Last edited by Chhanda Das : 29th November 2021 at 13:29.
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Old 29th November 2021, 13:32   #19
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Originally Posted by vigsom View Post

There was no news of the car after departure, but I'm sure if this car is still in use, whoever has the car must be smiling !!!

Attachment 2238444
Lovely post! Made me smile. Childhood out of town trips meant squeezing into an Amby and the ld lady was always accommodating no matter how big families were. People managed to squeeze in and the absence of the floor gear shift meant that the front seat had atleast three with the driver pushed to the corner!
Still see the rare immaculately maintained Amby on the road and never fails to make me pause and stare.
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Old 29th November 2021, 13:52   #20
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Originally Posted by sterlingsilver View Post
the MK I and MK II carry an air of regality which no other Indian car can hold a candle to
Originally Posted by AntPaul View Post
There was an Ambassador classic between nova and grand. I believe it is the Classic that you have shared as Nova; it came with different rim design with more vents and lost whitewall tyres. The dashboard layout was similar to Mark 4 with only minor changes. It had column mounted gear lever and the 2 spoke steering wheel
Thank you for the correction, AntPaul. When I saw your post, I wasn't sure of this, but thought hard for a long time and then remembered the Nova's ad that came on TV then. It was then that I remembered that the Nova had just subtle changes over the Mark 4. I presume this picture showcases the right Nova.
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Originally Posted by Chhanda Das View Post
proud to state that I have been a proud owner of a 1986 Mark 4 petrol Ambassador which I drove for close to 2 decades all over the treacherous terrain of North East India in mostly overloaded conditions
Thank You Chhanda Ma'am. The Mark 4 was my favourite avatar and I'd loved if Dad got this. He did come very close to getting one, but then Mom dissuaded him from going ahead for reasons mentioned in my second post in my thread.

Originally Posted by petrogeek View Post
I remember playing in the spacious boot of the Amby and getting locked inside it for a few moments with no one around
Thank You, petrogeek. I remember once in Kanpur a group of us kids were playing hide and seek and two got into an Ambassador's boot, but did take care to keep the boot a bit open.

Originally Posted by ABHI_1512 View Post
You have just rekindled some good old memories
Originally Posted by GreasyCarb55 View Post
fond memories;
someday I'd have the "Big 3" of Indian Automobiles in my garage aka the Standard Herald/HM Ambassador and Premier Padmini.
Thank You for your memories ABHI_1512 and GreasyCarb55. The Ambassador is all about pleasant memory recalls. In 1991, even I had set myself a target to acquire an Ambassdor Nova sometime when I could afford one. That dream hasn't yet been realised although I've been fortunate to own many other machines.

Originally Posted by pd1108 View Post
I picked up a big stone and placed it between the dynamo and the engine so that the belt got some tension
for the master jugaad, pd1108. This is what we are best at - make things work the uncharacteristic way.

Originally Posted by clementw View Post
Childhood out of town trips meant squeezing into an Amby and the old lady was always accommodating
Thank You clementw. I remember a summer camp in 1981 or 1982 when one rich kid's Ambasssdor and several other cars took a bunch of us to the Croc Bank on the outskirts of Chennai. The car, a Mark4 was filled with 9 kids I think and the chauffeur was able to do 100kmph without the car struggling. That was 39 years ago.

Last edited by vigsom : 29th November 2021 at 14:03.
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Old 29th November 2021, 14:49   #21
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

A neat tribute to the Original King of our Indian Roads - the AMBASSADOR. I understand the emotional value for any car that's bought with Heart over Mind.

Thanks for stirring up memories of Ambassador.
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Old 29th November 2021, 15:01   #22
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Thanks for reminding us all of our childhood Vigsom bro.

We have had 3 ambassadors when I was a kid. 1 make 2 and 2 mark 4s. If I remember correctly, the mark 4 came with AC and during that time (late 80s) an air-conditioned car was a rarity.

My dad also had brought the estate version of the ambassador home. It was there for 30 minutes or so before the owner drove it back. Even as a kid i found it ugly

Ambassador is a legend! Those sofa seats, proportionate dimensions and tangibly solid construction are still appreciated by senior citizens. My FIL is a big fan and bought one in 2013, which he still has.

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Old 29th November 2021, 15:24   #23
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

A comprehensive write up as always, i enjoy reading your threads @ Vigsom. The Ambassador is a legend in its own way, unfortunately the company did not do enough to keep the brand alive and ultimately the company itself had to be closed down.

A sad end for a legendary product...
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Old 29th November 2021, 15:32   #24
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Evolution of the Ambassador (Contd.)

Console - Mark 3
Attachment 2238405
Just this image brought me sooo much joy today . I saw this thread and wanted to come back to it later when I have time to read it fully. But couldn't help scrolling through the images at least. My first foray into driving a car as a kid was in a Mark III and this image of the 4 rectangular lights brought back soo many wonderful memories.

Thanks for your post.
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Old 29th November 2021, 16:37   #25
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Hey Vigsom thanks for the awesome write up. You just made the day by sending me down the memory lane. Our family's first car was the Ambassador Nova, which my father brought in 1996. We had some really long and cherished road trips on this car. Although not very reliable, it was definitely the safest car. And boy the luxurious seats it had !
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Old 29th November 2021, 20:12   #26
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Truly this was a walk down memory lane for many of us in our seventies and eighties. Since there were primarily two main models of cars i.e.Fiat and Ambassador we had to make do with these. I started with a Fiat 1965 model which my father gave me when he bought a new Ambassador prior to his retirement. The interesting bit about the new car was that when we went to pick it up from the dealer Sagar Motors the front door came of it's hinges when it was opened. So we went home and came back the next day. I don't remember whether it was repaired or they gave a new car. I used the FIAT for many years finally buying an Ambassador Mark II I think in 1978. The first thing I did was replace the generator with an alternator. In those days I had too many problems with the generator in the FIAT including having to get it rewound at 12 midnight in a god forsaken town in Bihar. It took around 4 hours after which the electrician ruled that the insulation was baked and we could drive away. It worked well but soon in about 20 mins it packed up again and we drove without lights thanks to a moon and a very isolated and almost empty road - circa 1974.

Hence, as soon as I got my second hand Ambie I fitted an alternator. Fortunately, only voltage regulation was needed and current regulation was taken care of by back emf of the alternator. This car went on many trips. From a place near Gomoh in Bihar to Puri in Orissa and to Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Gangtok. We did have one breakdown while climbing up to Kalimpong - the head gasket blew. Of course getting that replaced was childs play even in Kalimpong and we drove off two days later. I forgot to set the tappets again after a day or so and I ended up with some burnt valves. The car still ran but gave lower power and poor mileage. I still remember that not much major could really go wrong but we used to carry water hoses, distributor points and capacitor, spark plugs and a few lights bulbs thrown in on any long journey. The car had a notoriously weak coupling for the shaft carrying power to the differential and this could break down anywhere. I had to once go to my wife's rescue when it happened to my car. But I must say it was the only incident that I went through in 13 years of ownership.

I took this car to Kashmir in 1986 driving from Delhi to Srinager, Verinag, Pahalgam, Gulmarg etc. Somewhere past Jammu at a dhaba I parked the car on an incline with the nose pointing downhill. After lunch when we got into the car - my wife and I were the only passengers - I found that I could not disengage the reverse gear into which I put the car on the incline for safety. Try as I might it wouldn't budge. I then had to take a bus to Jammu which was closed on Sunday. With great difficulty I found a mechanic who had only a 13 year old boy to help. The boy said that we could get a life from a trucker as many trucks would be going down to the plains at that time. His brother was a trucker so he knew most of them. Sure enough we got into a truck. It was heavily loaded and barely able to climb the gradients. The driver was mostly half asleep and the helper was leaning out and from time to time would jog the driver awake. I had a really scary journey back.

When we reached the car the young boy got into it like a veteran and really forced the gearshift and with a crash it came free. I was sure there was some major damage but we had no option but to continue. After many adventures in Kashmir where we got stuck again with the gear getting stuck in 2nd gear and somehow managing to get it free we decided to show it to a mechanic in Srinagar. He said it will need dismantling the gearbox which meant removal of the engine and would take several days as spares might not be immediately available. We decided to continue rather than waste several days. I realized that only second gear caused this problem so drove without putting the car into second gear right from Srinagar to Amritsar to Delhi.

In Delhi when I showed it to my cousin who had a workshop he had the gearbox dismantled and we found the bearing of the second gear damaged and the gear damaged as well and many metal parts strewn in the gearbox oil sump!! My cousin told me that either you are a very good driver or you were very lucky to manage without shattering the entire gearbox.

I could go on and on reminiscing but I guess I'll leave that for another day. I've collected a lot of FIAT and Ambassador stories in my 57 years of driving.
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Old 30th November 2021, 01:20   #27
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Wow Vigsom. You people are real car enthusiasts, painstakingly putting in so much time and effort which just showcases your passion for them. Nice writeup accompanied with good visuals! More so, it brought out so many interesting and exciting stories in return, esp Chanda Mam's recollections. Thanks
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Old 30th November 2021, 10:47   #28
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Such reminiscent memories I have of this car !! The best as follows

Those were uniform days in pot boiling desert of RJ border side, my boss the CO had a shining white Amby in his personal capacity which Mr's CO was more fond off as the cushions were pink !! The day I was returning back from my leave all married the tradition was the CO comes to the Rail station in his car and drives the newly weds to their quarters amongst much fan fare, our CO decided that the rouse needed a personal touch so in he came in his personal car as matter of extended camaraderie, so far so good. We got in the car, the pink cushions amazed my civilian background wife but she went along, a few meters down the road the AC stalled, my wife tried rolling down the window but the lever came out another 500 meters and the car started making funny sound much to the chagrin of the CO who by now knew this was turning out to be a disaster...finally the car stalled and we ended up driving in the security jeep which was fully packed with ammo (so much for warm welcome to uniformed life I thought looking at my most irritated wife who had to do sitting in one corner of the jeep with a gun protruding out)

Few days on the CO and his Mr's invite us to dinner, taking me aside he went " Say Major we forget that incident as that vehicle is a gift from my father in law I just cant get rid of"

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Old 30th November 2021, 16:52   #29
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Nostalgic and pleasantly so! Right from the one which came with suicide doors in the front to Mark IV to the Ambassador Classic, I simply love this car for all that it offered and all that it didn't.

Back in my childhood, I loved to stand behind the front seat/ bench and quietly stare at the centrally located green backlit instrument cluster, totally unaware of what each of the needle represented but loving it nonetheless. I loved to press that horn ring every time the car was parked while all the kids in the family would be jumping on those sofa seats. I loved pulling and pushing those switches at the centrally located cluster not knowing what any of them would do. I have such fond memories of doing several Delhi-Jaipur-Delhi and Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Delhi trips apart from the usual in-city drives. Oh, it was so much fun and I so miss those times!
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Old 30th November 2021, 19:43   #30
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Default Re: 1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives

Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
Evolution of the Ambassador

The Hindustan Ambassador was based on the Morris Oxford series III model, first made by Morris Motors Limited in the United Kingdom.

It was primarily the front look that would change marginally in the various avatars that the Ambassador featured – from the Mark 1 to the Avigo

Mark I

Mark II

Mark 3

Mark 4



A beautiful write-up chronicling the origin and the evolution of the great car that for nearly six decades, ruled our roads.

Two small facts that I would however like to add here. The year was 1954 when the Morris Oxford Series III was launched worldwide. The company Morris Motors Ltd had by 1952 become British Motors Corporation (BMC) with the car companies Austin, Morris, MG, Austin-Healey, Riley, and Wolseley and some truck brands too under its umbrella. Hence the Ambassador's 1489 cc petrol OHV engine and design are from the BMC era and not from Morris Motors Ltd. Morris was a brand under the BMC conglomerate that Morris Motors founder Sir William Morris alias Lord Nuffield dreamt would soon rival General Motors and Ford Motors as a huge conglomerate. Interestingly the older Hindustan 14 and Landmaster side valve engines (1476 cc) are by Morris Motors Ltd and were among the last ones developed by Morris. The BMC engines were however not Morris specific but used by other marques too under the BMC umbrella.

The second fact is that between the Mark 4 and Nova, for about two years HM branded the post Mark 4 Ambassador as the Ambassador Deluxe (1989-90). This car had the same Mark 4 dashboard ( of the Mark 4 Deluxe variant with the one plus four gauges in the matt black dash) and also had its successor Nova's grille. Do also please note the HM logo location in the Deluxe. It shared its steering with the Contessa Classic. The wheel rims/discs were still of body colour that would change to the silver shade and the new multiple cuts along its circumference soon, with the advent of the Nova.

The pictures below are of a 1989 Ambassador Deluxe courtesy Mr Ajith Rai. The car has everything intact as obtained from the factory including its upholstery, stickers, logos paintwork as one would notice.

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-8-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-7-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-1-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-2-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-6-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-13-1989mk4deluxe_2.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-12-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-10-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-3-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-1989-ambassador-deluxe-1.jpg

1971 HM Ambassador | Lighting up our lives-ajith-rai-9-1989mk4deluxe.jpg

This beautiful Ambassador Deluxe inspired me to do a sketch of the car which is featured above.

In 1977, HM had also introduced a 1760 cc/ OHV engine as an option for those wanting a more powerful car. It came at the end phase of the Mark 3 model and continued till the early 1980's in the Mark 4, but poor sales prompted HM to withdraw this engine option. HM had also introduced two variants in the 1980's - the Ambassador Regent (regret not having any pictures) which had different shades as compared to the Mark 4 and was placed above the Ambassador Mark 4 Deluxe. I remember seeing one of a metallic maroon shade in Calcutta in the 1980's. They had also introduced an Ambassador Economy model around 1987-88 that had black painted grille, bumper, headlight rings and taillight housing and also wheel caps. Though it was not badged as the Economy, the dealers referred to it as such. This model was also discontinued soon after a year or so. I could be having a few pictures of the Economy model (downloaded though) and would share them soon.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 30th November 2021 at 19:48.
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