Indian automotive industry is growing rapidly with more and more players entering the space while some making their roots stronger. But there was a time when all this was still a decade away. There were companies like Hindustan Motors and Premier that were trying to compete with the likes of Maruti Suzuki for the supremacy in the market. During this period, companies launched some cars that are still renowned for various factors. Let us take a look at the iconic cars from the 1990s that can be credited with moulding the path for the current industry.
You can click on the images of the cars to read more about them!
The desi muscle car, HM Contessa was launched by the Hindustan Motors back in 1984. The world was changing. People were becoming more and more attracted to power. So were the Indians. Ambassador was ruling the roads from the past three decades. But HM wanted to introduce a more modern car that would also have the essence of a muscle car. HM Contessa became a hit amongst the Indians as soon as it launched. The ultra-luxury interiors were love at first sight. It came equipped with power steering, air conditioners, central locking system, central armrest and much more at the time when all of this was luxury in India. The first half of the decade after 1990 saw Contessa getting new engine options and more refinement. Contessa is still loved a lot and people are ready to pay hefty prices to get one in good condition.
This car needs no introduction. It is India’s longest-running production car. It was launched back in 1957, the time when there were actually no Indian carmakers, making it the first indigenous car. HM Ambassador is known to be the king of roads. It was discontinued rather recently, in 2014. During the 1990s, HM had a good hold over the market, though it was facing tough competition from Maruti Suzuki. HM Ambassador is also known to be the politician and elite class carrier.
Fiat 1100D or the Padmini was launched back in 1964 by Premier to rival the HM Ambassador. The saloon became popular among the Indian masses due to efficiency and ease to drive. It became a hit amongst youngsters, celebrities, gents, ladies and indeed everybody. While the century approached towards the end, Padmini also started to face stiff competition from the competitors. India’s most loved family car can still be seen plying on the roads of Mumbai as taxis.
This saloon from Premier was not able to live up to the name that Padmini had built. But that does not mean the car was not good enough. It had the best engine option at that time with the best possible transmission at its disposal. But the long wait period and non-availability of parts made the car’s demand fade off slowly. When it was launched in 1985, it had a great demand. But being sturdy and powerful, people do love this car. It had a less-than a decent run in the 1990s and was discontinued later on. Still, it can be crowned as one of the iconic cars that could have made big in India with better support.
Maruti Suzuki 800
Another longest-running production car on the list, although not much when compared to the Amby. Maruti Udyog Ltd. started back in 1983 with the launch of their first car, the Maruti 800. This car gave its rivals sleepless nights and remained the best selling car in India for more than 2 decades. The 1990s saw an increase in demand for cars, which directly meant an increase in demand of the 800. Maruti Suzuki 800, although discontinued in 2004, can still be seen on roads either in its original condition or a modified one.
Maruti Suzuki Gypsy
The off-roading king of India, Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was launched back in 1985. It had a great run for more than 3 decades. It is known to be the frontline carrier for the Indian army. Since the first order in 1991, the Indian army has ordered over 35,000 Gypsy cars. Gypsy also had a name in the off-roading community which is still unbeaten by any other car. The off-roader was also given a new oil burner back in 1996 owing to the increasing demand for the SUV.
Maruti Suzuki 1000
Before Esteem, Maruti Suzuki launched 1000, a 1.0-litre petrol engine-powered sedan. It was launched in 1990. The car became a hit amongst the rally racers all thanks to its low-ride driving dynamics. It made a great name in the rally car racing in India at that time and was later renamed as Esteem with a more powerful engine option to offer.
The fact that only a total of 287 Montego were ever sold in India makes it more iconic. The Rover Montego is one of the few cars which can be considered as an epitome of classiness. The car spoke of executive-ness all around. This car was launched in the early 1990s. It was laden with features like power steering, power windows and air-conditioning were standard features in the sedan. All this led to the price tag of ₹10 lakhs at that time. In 1995, 236 cars were produced by the company while in the next 15 months only 51 were sold.
India’s first indigenous SUV, Tata Sierra marked the beginning of the decade. It was launched in 1991. People had very few options in terms of cars to choose from. The hatchbacks such as Maruti 800 and Alto. SUV segment was still not present in our country. The roads were dull and there was no thrill. This is when Tata decided to bring in India’s first SUV to the game. Tata Sierra was also the first car from the company for private transport. It had to be unique and powerful. Talking about the body, it had a 3-door design. Tata Sierra was a rear-wheel-drive SUV with 4WD as an option too. It is expected to make a comeback, though this time in an electric avatar.
Speaking of iconic cars, how can we miss the josh machine from Ford, the Ikon itself. It was launched in the second last year of the decade, i.e. 1999. The car was powered by a 1.3-litre SOHC petrol engine which produced nearly 70hp of power and a peak torque of 100Nm. A 5-speed manual transmission was offered with the engine. The car was pretty equipped at that time. It had power steering, power windows, air conditioner, anti-theft alarm, child safety locks, central locking, power door locks, day and night rear-view mirror and so on. It ran for a decade before getting benched.
So this is a part of the huge list of cars that make it to the iconic cars in India. Which car would you like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
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