Given that the Hindustan Ambassador is (was, actually) the ultimate living automotive fossils (built with limited changes from 1957-2014), it’s regrettable that we have not done them justice with a proper write up. But it’s going to have to wait, as I’m sitting in my van in Port Orford and the cell internet connection is slow. Well, that and the fact that it’s 9:30 at night and I’ve been outside all day.
So we’ll have to pay tribute to these two spotted and shot by Nathan Williams in London in an abbreviated way. The fact that they’re back in the UK is of course fitting, as the Ambassador is of course a 1955 Morris Oxford Series III whose tooling was sent to India in 1957, where it was put to good use cranking out almost one million Ambassadors for almost 60 years.
Actually, Roger Carr covered a fair bit of the Oxford’s transformation into the Ambassador and its evolution in his thorough Oxford CC. In a nutshell, the Ambassador soldiered along solely with the Oxford’s 1489 cc B-Series BMC engine for some decades, augmented eventually by a diesel version (with 37 hp) and then in 1979 with a much zippier Isuzu 1.8 L SOHC four. And eventually Isuzu diesels, bot NA and turbocharged rounded out the power train options. But the venerable 1.5 L B-Series was still available until not many years before the end of production.
This pink one looks to be from the 80s or 90s; I can’t readily tell. And it’s been decorated in the style that is popular in India, especially with truckers.
It’s even got plastic flowers on its bumper; the Indian version of 5 mph safety bumpers?
Ambassadors are now very collectible, and the early ones with their gas motors have become somewhat rare. Not many are still at work as taxis; even less so as private cars. These two clearly show the future of the Ambassador. Get ’em while they’re still relatively cheap.
Those are the 57-58 Morris Oxcart the 55 had a more rounded boot but minor styling differences separate the series 2 and 3, they were quite good cars slow and rust prone but reliable and easy to repair, Very few left here in active service mkost of them were driven into the ground long ago then abandoned for a shiny used jappa.
The most obvious external difference is the scooped out bonnet pressing, removing some of the very bulbous look of the ’55.
Hindustan also took on the Vauxhall FE/VX body whch they produced as the Contessa from 1984 to 2002. Engines were the same as used in the Ambassador rather than the Vauxhall slant 4.
Here’s the rounded rear of the Series II. Pure Issigonis ‘style’ but a huge boot! 🙂
Not as long-lived as the Minor; Dad had worn his out by ’63.
Per the DVLA, the pink car is a 1996, so from the batch imported for sale in the UK, and the cream one 2003, so vert late in Ambassador history.
Having ridden in these in India, they feel like I’d expect 1953 to feel, and in Delhi in January the demisting was, to say the least, ineffective. Good a/c though when you needed it
If they were imported new, yes, the plate will indicate the year.
If they were imported used and then given an UK number plate, it’s the year of issue. If you were to bring your used car over with you, it would just get a plate for the current year, not its year of manufacture.
I once saw an Acura Legend parked on an Oxford street with a Virginia plate. Must have been some professor, but I wonder how long you can keep a car there before you have to register it.
By the 1990’s the EU had safety and emissions regulations in place, so I doubt these cars would have been able to meet them.
And being used in advert for the Peugeot 206.
I remember this advert!
Of course, the Peugeots advertised will have been outlived by the Ambassadors made at the same time…
Doubtful.The 206 is a stout car. The 16 valve petrol and especially the diesel versions will happily do 200k+ miles. One of the cheapest ways to get around in most of Europe.
I saw the pink one just last month in Earls Court
Yes, this was on earls court Square
Somebody tried importing some Ambassadors in the 90s and also a lot of body parts to restore rusty Morris Oxfords, just like Brazilian VW parts restored many Beetles
The two wheeled world also benefited from Indian made Royal Enfield and Vespa parts
I got to drive one of these in 2008 whilst touring India on a Royal Enfield. The cab driver was a bit surprised by my request, but a few hundred Rupees persuaded him.
I think “mine” had the B Series and was from the 70s, but anyway it was, as Mr. Carr said, “as you would expect 1953 to feel”. Slow, clunky, but nice gearchange and roomy and robust feeling, even after who knows how many miles. Quite charming, in fact!
I also saw the very rare Hindustan Contessa and a couple of Standard Gazelles.
There was a facelift of the Ambassador done in the early 2000s that gave it Porsche 993 style headlamps and a revised rear end. Meant to appeal to “the younger driver”. Saw a couple of these around Delhi. Bit of an acquired taste…..
And this was an earlier(?) facelift…
I had no idea anyone collected these .
Nice to see some still in use .