The Indian automobile market has become one of the largest markets in the world. While there are several manufacturers offering numerous car models to choose from, there are a few cars that we definitely miss on the roads. These are the seven legendary vehicles that were once very popular in the market and got discontinued. The manufacturers did not launch replacements for these cars.
King of Indian roads. The Hindustan Ambassador was once a regular sight in every city, as a family sedan, a VIP car, and even a yellow-painted taxi. It descended from a Hindustan Landmaster and was in production from 1956 to 2014. Having achieved somewhat legendary status since the cars were pulled off the shelves because of falling sales, it is now gaining popularity because of the nostalgic sentiment. There have been some rumours about the Ambassador making an electric comeback, in the form of digital renders being circulated on the internet.
Hindustan Motors not only made one of India’s most desired family cars but also made a muscle car to appeal to enthusiasts. Manufactured between 1984 and 2002, it was featured in many movies and was a symbol of style on a reel and in real life. The Contessa was priced between Rs. 4.84 lakh and Rs. 5.42 lakh. Sales of this car started taking a hit when far more fuel-efficient models from other manufacturers started entering the Indian market.
The Tata Sierra was the first true SUV designed and developed in the Indian market. It was based on the Tata Telcoline, got the same front fascia and even the same engine, albeit the Sierra was made to suit the consumer market. In fact, this was one of the first few cars for personal transport, which tata made. This three-door design with Alpine windows on the rear was distinct and unforgettable. Tata showcased a new electric concept car at the 2020 AutoExpo, which was the Sierra reimagined in a more modern flavour.
Maruti Suzuki Gypsy
While we’re on the topic of SUVs, the Maruti Suzuki Gypsy was an icon. It had been adopted by almost every armed force for patrolling duties, and by off-roading enthusiasts, because this lightweight 4×4 SUV with high and low gears has a serious go-anywhere attitude. Even though the production of the Gypsy was halted for civilians in 2018, it is still in production for the armed forces. Maruti plans to replace it with the Suzuki Jimny, however, it might find it difficult to compete with the legendary status which the Gypsy achieved.
Maruti Suzuki 800
If there was ever a true people’s car, for India it was the Maruti Suzuki 800. Based on Suzuki’s tried and tested 800cc F8B lineup, it went into production in 1983 up until it was phased out in 2014. This little city car gave serious competition to the Hindustan Ambassador and Premier Padmini. This car was also a whole pop-culture phenomenon in and of itself in the 90s, and even movies were made with the “Maruti” at the centre of the plot. For most of working-class India, this was the first family car they owned.
Maruti Suzuki Zen
Another small car from the house of Maruti Suzuki, but this time in no way aimed at the working-class as their first family car. This was a hot hatch, or so it was termed. The Suzuki Zen received a G10B engine and was often heavily modified by the racing community in the country making more than 100 PS. It was fun to drive and handling was very telepathic, almost go-kart-like. It was later replaced by the Estilo, however, that charm of the original hatchback was missed.
The second car to be launched by Maruti Suzuki, it got the same engine as the Maruti Suzuki 800 and was launched just shortly after the 800. It was first named the Maruti Suzuki Van but was later rebadged. This iconic van was a constant in the Indian Film Industry, is a common sight as a short distance taxi, tourist vehicle and even a cargo carrier. The Omni was also often utilized as an ambulance. Although it was tried to be turned eco-friendly, and then simply replaced with the Eeco and eventually was discontinued. It would be great to see this utilitarian vehicle in an electric avatar.