This car needs no introduction at all. At the time when Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador and Premier Padmini were dominating the segment, Maruti in collaboration with Suzuki launched the 800. A brand in itself, the 800 came to our shores in 1983. And now, even after 37 years, even after the car is discontinued, it is still visible on the roads, running like a king!
The First Maruti 800
Maruti 800 was launched at a price of ₹47,500. Mr Harpal Singh from Delhi won the lucky draw and was handed over the keys by the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi herself. And this marked the advent of a car that would take on every other in its way, making it a long journey staying at the top.
First Generation Maruti 800 | Suzuki Fronte SS80
Globally known as Suzuki Fronte or the Alto, Maruti Suzuki launched the first generation of 800 in 1983. It came equipped with a 796cc, 3-cylinder engine capable of producing 38ps of power and a peak torque of 59Nm. Mated to a 4-speed gearbox, this car was fun to drive, so much so, that it challenged the monopoly of Ambassador and Padmini. 800 can be credited to begin the front-wheel-drive cars in India. All the previous cars such as Ambassador and Padmini were rear-wheel-drive. Although it was a small car, it had enough space, was economical and on the top of that, economical.
Second Generation | 1986 | The design we are more familiar with!
And this is the generation that Maruti carried till the car was discontinued. And this is the generation to get a Maruti ‘M’ badging. In the history of the brand, only three cars had this badge, the 800, Omni and Gypsy. All the cars except these were given the Suzuki ‘S’ badging. Except for the design, nothing else changed. Same engine and same transmission under the hood.
1987 | A Facelift Arrives
And this is the year, 800 had to bid farewell to the Maruti ‘M’ badging. Along with that came new front grille, new headlamps and taillamps. There was no change to the interior or the powertrain though.
And this design remained the same till 2014. There were a few major upgrades though. In 1997, Maruti introduced the MPFI system leaving the carburettor behind. The upgraded engine produced the same power and torque but this time came mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.
Take a look: Maruti 800 vs Suzuki Mehran: An Indo-Pak Duel
In the coming years, Maruti introduced the LPG variant and introduced a few features along. After 2010, due to strict emission norms, the sales of this car was limited to some cities. And 2018 marked the year of last Maruti 800 from the factory.
And this is how it became the King of Indian roads. 800 has a legacy that no one can beat at all. The cars may come and the cars may go, but 800 remains forever. Got some memories with the family car that led the Indian automotive industry? Let us know in the comments section below.