The Hindustan Contessa is among the most iconic cars to have ever been on sale in the country. On sale till as recently as 2002, the Contessa is becoming a scarcer sight with every passing day. Fortunately, however, there are some communities that bond over this classy set of wheels. One such group of connoisseurs is the Kerala-based Conty Club India (CCI).
Conty Club India is among the most prominent Contessa car clubs in the country. The recent meet-up comprised of Contessa owners from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The members of this group showed up in their prized possessions to become a part of what is being touted as the ‘biggest’ Contessa car meet of recent times. As many as 20 well-maintained Hindustan Contessa cars participated in this meet, which took place in Palakkad in Kerala. The proud owners of these beauties drove together and also exchanged notes on restoration and maintenance. This meet-up brought together almost all the variants of the Contessa that were sold in the country.
There were some cars from the early ’80s, which came with the same 1.5-litre petrol engine that powered the Ambassador. The meet-up also included some cars with the 1.8-litre Isuzu petrol engine. These models were launched in the late-eighties and were on sale under the ‘Contessa Classic’ moniker. Finally, there were some cars from the 90s, when Hindustan Motors launched the 2.0-litre diesel engine variant. The Contessa was among the first few luxury cars of India, with the only competition coming from the short-lived Standard 2000. The Contessa was a ‘VVIP’ car that was popular amongst government officials of the country. The Hindustan Contessa was on sale till 2002. It was discontinued owing to really low demand and stiff competition from much more modern rivals from Tata, Maruti, and Hyundai. Today, it’s well-known for its ‘muscle car’ looks. However, the Contessa has got really nothing to do with American cars like the Ford Mustang or the Chevrolet Camaro.
Instead, the Conti is based on the Vauxhall VX series, which was itself based on the Vauxhall Victor FE. Hindustan Motors acquired the production tooling and technology of the Vauxhall VX series in the late 70s, after the car was phased out in the UK in 1978. A production line was set up alongside that of the very popular Ambassador at the company’s Uttarpara facility near Kolkata. The Vauxhall VX was rebranded as Hindustan Contessa for India and launched in the spring of 1984. The Contessa has played a pretty big role in the development of the Indian car market. If nothing else, it paved the way for more modern sedans to come our way. It feels really nice to know that some Conty owners have made it a point to keep their vehicles in a road-worthy condition.