Snapshot – Continuing our series of car ads from the yester years, here are five more cars that were once common rights on the Indian roadscape. Many of the cars listed below continue to be lovingly maintained and run by a dedicated bunch of automotive lovers. So, if you do come across one of these beauties, you can hark right back to these Ads and reminisce about what each of these cars meant for buyers back in the day.
Hindustan Contessa Diesel
The Hindustan Contessa had its origins in the Vauxhall Victor. In India, this car was sold as a flagship luxury offering of Hindustan Motors. The sedan was initially introduced in 1984, the same year when the iconic Maruti 800 made its India entry. The Contessa initially came with a 1.8 liter Isuzu sourced petrol engine, and with rising costs of petrol, a 2 liter naturally aspirated diesel motor, again sourced from Japanese automaker and diesel engine specialist Isuzu, was shoehorned into the rear wheel driven luxury car. Later, a turbocharger was added to this diesel engine, which made the car quicker.
The Sipani Montana was ahead of its day. A five door version of the Reliant Kitten, the Montana featured a fiberglass body and emphasized on safety, which is something that car buyers in the budget segments don’t seem to take seriously even today. Apart from a fiber glass body, a collapsible steering column and a lot center of gravity, the Montana featured petrol and diesel engine options. The car never managed to take off in India, and competition from the Indian government promoted Maruti 800 simply obliterated the Bangalore based outlier out of business. Production ceased in 1990.
Hindustan Ambassador Mark II
The Hindustan Ambassador has always been a magnet for the powerful and political classes in India, so much so that the official marketing that accompanied the car toed this very line. Case in point is the print ad of the Ambassador Mark II, which talks of status and chauffeur drives. The Mark II variant of the Ambassador was produced by Hindustan Motors between 1962 and 1977. As its name suggests, the car was the second generation, much improved version of the Ambassador. Power came from a British Motor Corporation (BMC) 1.5 liter-4 cylinder 55 Bhp petrol motor with overhead valves.
Standard Herald Mark III
The Standard Herald was a sedan that was built by Indian automaker Standard Motor based out of Madras, which is known as Chennai today. The Herald was a car that was re-branded for the Indian market, having its origins with a British car – the Triumph Herald. The Mark III model of the Standard Herald that was introduced in 1968 featured five doors, a departure from the three door body of the Mark I and II models. The new car’s India specific body was meant to give it enough ammo for it to compete with the likes of the Premier Padminis and Hindustan Ambassadors of this world. A 948cc Standard-Triumph four-cylinder petrol engine powered this car.
As the 1980s signaled the advent of more modern cars such as the Hindustan Contessa, the Sipani Montana and the Maruti 800, Standard Motor responded with the 2000 model. The Standard 2000 was a rebadged Rover SD1, a British car. In the Standard 2000, a 2 liter petrol engine borrowed from the Vanguard, a commercial vehicle built by Standard, was shoehorned into the new luxury car. This engine delivers a power output of 83 Bhp and was mated to a 4 speed manual gearbox that drove the rear wheels of the car. The Standard 2000 never enjoyed much success, and death came quickly for this car, which was built between 1985 and 1988.