Snapshot – India didn’t have a thriving automobile industry three decades ago, and a clutch of Indian automakers such as Bajaj Auto, Premier Automobiles Limited, Royal Enfield and Hindustan Motors represented a handful of the major players. Back then, an automobile wasn’t just a basic means of transport like it is for most middle class Indians now. It reeked of privilege, and a sense of great affluence. Cars and motorcycles of the yesteryears drive back the clock, and bring back a flood of nostalgia. Come, join us in the journey where we take a look at car advertisements from a bygone era.
Premier Automobiles Limited (PAL) got together with Italian automaker Fiat to begin selling the 1100 sedan in India. The compact car, which was positioned as a youthful alternate to the bulky Hindustan Ambassador, first began life with the 1100-103 model. This car used a 1.1 liter-4 cylinder petrol engine that put out 35 Bhp of peak power. The car used a rear wheel drive layout and was assembled in India from 1954. Ten years later, the car was Indianized with the 1100D model, with D standing for Delight. Along with local manufacture, the 1100D also received an Indian name – Premier Padmini.
The Hindustan Landmaster was the first car that was manufactured in India, at Hindustan Motors’ Uttarpara factory, Hooghly. The Landmaster was first introduced in England, in 1954 as the Morris Oxford Series II. In India, this car was known as the Landmaster. The sedan was the predecessor of the Ambassador, a car that was a status symbol for decades, even as it served as the chosen ride of politicians and officialdom. The Landmaster featured a 1,489cc-4 cylinder side valve petrol engine.
The Premier Padmini was the evolution of the Fiat 1100. The car was first assembled at Premier Automobiles Limited’s Kurla factory, in Mumbai from 1964. This factory shut down in 2000, which was when the last Padmini rolled out from this facility. The Premier Padmini featured a shape that was edgier than the curvy Fiat 1100. Also, the car used a slightly more powerful version of the 1.1 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine, which made 40 Bhp-71 Nm on the Padmini. A column mounted gear shifter handled the 4 speed transmission that drove the rear wheels. The car was very popular in its time, and during the later part of its career as a taxi cab in Bombay, its home city.
In 1948, Mahindra began assembling Jeeps in India, with license from Willys USA. A few decades later, the automaker began manufacturing a wide variety of Jeeps, designed to suit Indian conditions. Mahindra tied up with French automaker Peugeot to source turbo diesel engines, which were used in many of the former’s Jeeps. The Commander was first introduced in 1990, and featured a 2.5 liter direct injection diesel engine that produced 50 Bhp of peak power and 130 Nm of peak torque. The Commander carried 10 passengers and used a four speed manual transmission to drive all four wheels. Top speed was rated at 90 Kph.
Premier 1.38D Diesel
The Premier 118 NE, known as the Fiat 124 in Italy, arrived into India in 1985, with a 1.2 liter Nissan petrol engine and the same label’s 5 speed manual gearbox. A few years down the line, the car gained a naturally aspirated, indirect injection diesel engine displacing 1,366cc. The diesel variant was dubbed the 138D. The engine made 41 Bhp of peak power and 70 Nm of peak torque. The Nissan derived 4 speed gear shifter moved from the steering to the floor. Like its petrol driven iteration, the car was rear wheel driven.