Hindustan Ambassador, the king of Indian roads and the ruler of people’s heart was launched way back in 1958. It is the car responsible for the advent of the automobile industry in India. But what happens when the company decides to part ways from their legacy for a while? Hindustan Avigo is born.
The Summers of 2003
There were plenty of threats from the terrorists to the politicians of India. HM decided to upgrade the engine so that it can propel the heavily armoured vehicle. But all this was not enough. The Ambassador used to cost anywhere between ₹5lakhs to ₹6lakhs. At that time, there were a few SUVs in this range too. So on the advice of SPG, PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee switched to armoured SUVs and the whole political fleet followed.
The sales of the Ambassador were plumming. Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai were eating up a major chunk of the market leaving very less for the Ambassador. So the company decided to take a small break from the Amby and introduced Avigo in the summers of 2003. Avigo had a sleeker design and a retro interior. The new 4-door saloon was an exhaustive revamp of the Ambassador.
Avigo: In and Out!
The car was powered by an in-line 4-cylinder SOHC 1.9-litre petrol engine which could produce 73.97hp of power and a peak torque of 135Nm. The engine was mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. The front suspension was taken care of by a torsion bar and the rear duty was done by a semi-elliptical leaf spring. It was equipped with a power steering.
Talking about the design elements, the hood of the Avigo was a radical shift from the dimpled bonnet. It was now a sleeker, more round and modern bonnet. At the rear, there were no major changes except the redesigned tail lamp.
At the interior, the Avigo was given a retro touch. The dashboard of the Hindustan Avigo was giving out a glimpse of the Mark IV Amby. The leather upholstery seats were built with the dual-tone beige coloured scheme and wood-grain interiors. Air-conditioner was a standard feature too. The Avigo came fitted with a 6CD Kenwood audion system.
The HM Avigo was offered with 6 colour options: Jet Black, Oyster Blue, Fire Brick Red, Ecru Beige, Lunar Silver and White Grey.
What Happened To Ambassador?
A major shock came in 2011 when Ambassador was banned in 11 cities as a taxi because of the strict emission norms. In 2013, the company introduced a much cleaner, BS4-compliant diesel engine powered Encore. But by then it was too late. The government of India was not buying the Ambys any more, the taxis were shifting to more fuel-efficient alternatives and other companies were introducing more modern cars to India. The reign of Ambassador was over.
After running on the Indian roads for more than 55 years, Ambassador was discontinued. But what Amby will never be able to leave is the hearts of people and the legacy it has built. Hindustan Motors introduced ‘Made In India’ way before Narendra Modi thought of it.
Like Avigo, there are few more variants and generations that are a part of 55 years of history of HM Ambassador. Have a look here.
Have fun reading: 8 HM (Hindustan Motors) Cars In India That Are Now Long Forgotten