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Hindustan Ambassador Car: A Legend in its Own Right

The Ambassador car is iconic! For several decades, it was the most popular car in the country and was considered a status symbol among the elite. In this article, we delve into this car’s history, impact, design and legacy.

Origin of the Ambassador car

The humble Ambassador car was introduced to India in 1948. The first iteration was called the “Hindustan Landmaster”. It was designed based on the Morris Oxford series III car, a British car popular in the United Kingdom (UK) in the 1950s. The sedan had a 1.5-litre engine that churned out 35bhp, considered powerful during that era. Over the years, the Ambassador underwent several updates, including its design. However, the makers retained its iconic boxy shape, chrome grill and round headlights throughout its life.

Ambassador’s car design and features

The Ambassador car’s boxy design was the vehicle’s main selling point. Its chrome grill, round headlights and tail fins added to its retro design language. Until its last production, the car held on to its famous retro charm. The Ambassador’s interior was equally impressive. It boasted plush seats and ample legroom, making it comfortable for long journeys. It also boasted various luxurious features, including power steering, air conditioning and power windows. The legendary Ambassador was also popular in Indian films and TV shows, where it was often depicted as a symbol of power and status.

Impact and legacy of the Ambassador car

The Ambassador car’s impact on the Indian automobile industry and culture is immense. For many decades, the sedan was the most preferred mode of transport for Indian politicians, businessmen and elites. It was also popular among Indian movie stars and TV personalities. The car’s popularity declined in the 1990s with the entry of international car manufacturers in the Indian market. The Ambassador lost its charm, with customers preferring modern and technologically advanced cars. It also faced production issues due to labour disputes and supply chain management, leading to declining sales numbers. Despite several challenges, the Ambassador has a loyal customer base, popular especially with vintage car collectors and restorers.

Here is the Ambassador car’s journey in India and the models launched during its lifetime.

Hindustan Landmaster (1954 to 1958)

The first model of the Ambassador car was called the Hindustan Landmaster. Its design language was typically British, with large proportions. A 1.5-litre unit with 4 cylinders powered it. Hindustan also made a station wagon iteration of the Landmaster Traveller Ambassador with semi-wooden body panels. The Morris Oxford Series III, the Ambassador MK1 in India, replaced the Hindustan Landmaster.

Hindustan Ambassador MK1 (1958 to 1962)

The Hindustan Landmaster was renamed Hindustan Ambassador, first appearing in the new name in 1958. It continued to draw power from the same engine as its predecessor. However, there were major changes to its design. The car received a heavy revision to its body panels, a new front chrome grille, bonnet, and tail fins on the boot. The tail fins stayed until the end of the car’s production in 2014, emphasising the popularity of its unique design. The interiors were revised, including changes to the steering wheel design, a new wood grain dashboard and updated dials.

Hindustan Ambassador MK2 (1962 to 1975)

While Ambassador MK1 was known as “Ambassador” and never MK1, Ambassador MK2 was officially badged MK2. The new iteration had the same body panels but received changes to the front grille, and updated wooden dashboard, but the overall interior design remained similar to the MK1. The MK2 was also offered a dual-tone option with chrome splitting the trim into the sides. This model remained more or less the same until its discontinuation in 2014 and became a popular option for restorers.

Hindustan Ambassador MK3 (1975 to 1979)

The Ambassador MK3 debuted in 1975 with a revised front grille and round indicators below the headlights. On the inside, the car received a major update to the dashboard design with modern elements. Despite modern touches, the dimensions remained the same as the MK2 model. The MK3 was offered in two variants: Standard and Deluxe.

Hindustan Ambassador MK4 (1979 to 1990)

In its fourth incarnation, the Ambassador MK4 received a modern touch to its front grille, albeit smaller than the older version. It also had housing for the indicators. There were subtle changes to its interiors. The biggest change in this version was introducing a diesel unit to power the car. The engine was a 1.5-litre unit pushing out a maximum power of 37bhp. It was a frugal engine and offered solid performance and better fuel efficiency than the petrol unit.

Hindustan Ambassador Nova (1990 to 1999)

Ambassador Nova was launched with two engine options in 1990. It offered a 1.5-litre petrol engine that punched out 55bhp and a 2.0-litre diesel engine that churned out 37bhp. The company wanted to make the Ambassador more commercial and cheaper to make. Hence, there were some cost-cutting measures, including a basic front grille compared to the previous model. In 1992, the company made Ambassador Nova more attractive by offering a 1.8-litre Isuzu petrol engine that pushed out a maximum power of 75bhp assisted by a 5-speed gearbox with a floor-mounted gear stick. This engine powered the car until the end of its production.

Hindustan Ambassador Grand (2000 to 2014)

Hindustan Motors (HM) improved Ambassador Nova with the launch of the Grand in 2000. The car received significant changes to its outlook. The bumpers were integrated into the body, and subtle changes to the interiors. The vehicle received a plastic dashboard, air conditioning, and more. While the Grand received several new updates, the company retained the Nova and called it a Classic with few changes. HM also introduced another version, Encore. It was the last model of the humble Ambassador. The car was launched in 2013, boasting a BS4 engine and the same 5-speed gearbox. Production of this model ended in 2014, ending its long streak in the Indian market.

Highlights of the Ambassador car

Here are some interesting facts about the Ambassador car.

  • It was the original Made-in-India car.

  • It was one of the first diesel-engine cars in India.

  • Although it is discontinued, it is still being used in some of the major cities in India.

  • One of the first cars to be produced in India after the country’s independence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Hindustan Ambassador:

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about the Ambassador car.


What are the main features of the Ambassador car?

The Ambassador car was popular for its spacious interiors that could easily seat five passengers. It was known for its sturdiness and comfortable ride quality. The car was powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine that could propel it to around 110km/h.

When was the Ambassador car discontinued?

The car was discontinued in 2014.

Is the iconic Ambassador car still available in the market?

No, the Ambassador car is unavailable in the market since its production was stopped in 2014. However, some enthusiasts and restorers own and maintain these cars as vintage vehicles.

Which car insurance is better, Comprehensive or Third-party?

The Comprehensive Insurance offers wide coverage, including third-party liabilities and damages to the insured car.

Is it possible for Hindustan Motors to launch a new Ambassador car in India?

There is no official confirmation about the launching of a new Ambassador car.

What was the Ambassador car’s price when it was first launched in India?

The Ambassador was priced approximately Rs. 14,000 when it was first launched in India.

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