View Full Version : End of the Ambassador automobile?

26th May 2014, 12:44
Based on the Morris Oxford. Many have diesel engines.

BBC News - End of the road for India's Ambassador cars? (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-27572306)

John Hill
26th May 2014, 20:09
I hope it is not too late for me to put an order in for a new one.

26th May 2014, 21:10
You know, they are very comfortable in the back seat. I've had many rides in Ambassador taxis in India. Most of the vehicles were probably 20 or 30 years old. They are slow, simple to repair and seem to last forever.

26th May 2014, 21:28
Hindustan Ambassador - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindustan_Ambassador)

27th May 2014, 08:49
Wherever you were in India a broken Ambassador could be repaired and got back on the road again in very short order. The joys of hiring a car and driver for a whole day for the price of a beer in Norway.

27th May 2014, 09:06
They are slow, simple to repair and seem to last forever.
Which explains why you can't buy one in the UK.

The manufacturers want you to buy a car from them which is impossible to repair and doesn't last beyond the warranty.

Ancient Mariner
27th May 2014, 09:10
For the price of a outdoor pint of beer in Norway you could probably buy a new Ambassador, have enough money left to fill the tank and still have some change for a fuzzy dice to customize it. :hmm:
I always made sure that the Door Admiral at our hotel in New Delhi had one for us when we needed a taxi, I just love those cars.

27th May 2014, 09:50
I worked in Uttar Pradesh for two years and became well aquainted with the aforesaid car!Going up hills the a/c had to be turned off!Another time the oil bath air filter caught fire .yet another the front suspension broke and the driver and I had to walk back picking up bits which were then repaired in the next town!One day we got to ride with a big boss of ours,he had a Mercedes saloon (just makes the indian driver drive faster!!)and after a short time there came a rattling noise from the front end,the radiator spot welds had undone and the rad was impinging against the fan !Being a Merc the driver must have had complete confidence in it as there were no tools etc in the boots all us engineers forfeited our shoelaces which were used to tie the rad back!!Always interesting in India!!!

Lon More
27th May 2014, 11:07
Now to be built in England as the new MG?

27th May 2014, 12:33
I've had some of the most terrifying moments of my life in an Ambassador taxi. The driver held the opinion that if it was his fate to die that day he would die and if it wasn't then he was fireproof.

I told him that if it was his fate to die that day, I would prefer not to go with him.

He just laughed. :uhoh:

27th May 2014, 18:25
I'm in Chennai these days, and love the look of those old Ambassador taxis.

To those who complain, and there's much to complain about when it comes to indian taxis, I say 'would you rather be in an Amby or the tiny Korean tin can it hits when the inevitable happens?'

I reckon that old Morris Oxford would go through the average Indian motor vehicle like a hot knife through soft butter!

Lon More
27th May 2014, 21:25
Peugeot India Car Ad - YouTube

28th May 2014, 04:03
Going up hills the a/c had to be turned off!
In the ME in the 80's had to use the same trick in Toyota Corollas when overtaking ... I remember a barman showing me the brochure for the new Ambassador in about 1982 when the 'trafficators' were replaced by 'new improved flashing indicator lights' ... Luvvly jubbly ....

28th May 2014, 13:34
My wife's cousin in Australia restores old Oxfords, Cambridges and Magnettes. He told me they were too underpowered for the Oz market until someone had the bright idea of moving the rad in front of a big structural beam and adding 2 pots to the usual 4. Result! Perhaps a petrolhead can confirm/deny the story? (If you imagine it as a kids-drawing house shape, the rad was just behind the bedroom ceiling, but got moved to the attic).

28th May 2014, 19:18
....they were too underpowered for the Oz market until someone had the bright idea of moving the rad in front of a big structural beam and adding 2 pots to the usual 4.

I'm afraid that donning an anorak, I can confirm this as correct. BL Aus added two cylinders to make a 6-cylinder B-series engine (as distinct from a C-series).
They only manufactured them locally, although the development work was done in the UK. Why they didn't then get used back here (& fuel was cheap then) is presumably due to the usual BL infighting.

Known as the "Blue Streak" engine, it has its own page (though not a lot else). Spares though are mostly OK as it was simply a B-series with 2 extra pots.

Blue Streak engine (http://www.bluestreaksix.com/)

Effluent Man
28th May 2014, 22:45
As the proud owner of a Magnette I was somewhat perplexed by this.Then I clicked the link and saw it was the new fangled Magnette (Farina) not the ZB.
I did read somewhere that one ZB had a C series 6 cylinder fitted from the Wolseley 6/90. I suppose the 24/80 referred to was 2.4litre 80bhp.Not a huge advance on the 68bhp from my old 1.5 unit.

Pappa Smurf
28th May 2014, 23:49
There was a 6 cylinder Morris Oxford but it was called the Morris Isis.
Looks the same bar a slightly longer bonnet.

Metro man
29th May 2014, 01:23
Iran also made an icon of a British saloon car, the Hillman Hunter locally known as the Paykan. After being manufactured for almost forty years it was finally laid to rest in 2005.


It says something about the robust simplicity of the engineering of previous generations that it kept going for so long. Cars such as these could easily be repaired by the village mechanic with spares available from the local market. However it was responsible for a large part of Tehran's notorious air pollution.

I doubt many of todays disposable "Take it to a main dealer and plug it into a diagnostic machine." cars will be around as long.

29th May 2014, 07:15
Thank you, folks. JB is a veritable fount of (usually useless) information! :ok:

29th May 2014, 08:04
Effluent, I have a ZB as well. Aren't they great?

Hazy memory says that the Blue Streak was tried in the MGB, in which it went very well: carbs & manifolding increased the power. However Issigonis himself was one of the ones against any use of it, so they made the MGC instead. Ho hum.

Meanwhile, it looks like farewell to the Amby. Back in the days when there were still BL dealers around, I had lazy daydreams of bringing a new one over, and then taking it for its first "free" service.......

Lon More
29th May 2014, 08:27
IIRC the TV programme Wheeler Dealers bought one over from India, tarted it up and sold it on.

29th May 2014, 13:10
I first encountered the Ambassador in the early 1980s while working in New Delhi, during an exceptional heatwave period in which daily max temperatures reached 45deg C or more. I was based in the Janpath Hotel, which had large rickety ceiling fans and huge freestanding a/c units with pathetic cooling power but massive mechanical noise, so nights were purgatory. After each sweaty night, a Hindustan with its smart Sikh driver in bright orange turban was sent to pick me up for the 25 minute drive to the temple construction site for my supervisory role.

The car had no a/c fitted (or if it had, it wasn't working), so all windows were fully down in an attempt to avoid cooking me and the driver. And this was at a time when inter-faith attacks were taking place in India, the Sikhs being the target, several having been killed or badly burned by gangs overturning their vehicles in traffic jams and torching them. As may be imagined, it was not a relaxing, comfortable daily journey, yet to my relief the car just kept plugging on in the extreme heat conditions. My concern over the potential risks of breaking down with a boiling radiator began to fade, and I ended up quite impressed with the dogged reliability of this anachronistic vehicle.

Effluent Man
29th May 2014, 18:15
Mine is a '58 Varitone in light and dark grey.My dad had a '56 that I learned to drive when I was 12 on the disused airfield runway at Beccles (Ellough)The ZB is currently laid up having just had a floorectomy and replacement.Now four new doors to go on and a respray.

29th May 2014, 21:55
I remember seeing many of the old Vanguard vehicles in India about 20 years ago, believe they were made locally from jigs brought from England. Or were they the Ambassador I was actually seeing?

29th May 2014, 22:23
Standard (Indian automobile) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_%28Indian_automobile%29)


1st Jun 2014, 21:03
Unfortunately in Pune and Aurangabad they do not use the Ambassador for taxi. Mostly you get Tata Indigo/Indica/Manza, Mahindra Verito (for Europeans: a successor of the Renault-Mahindra Logan after pulling out of the Renault/Mahindra joint venture) or Toyota Etios. Of course they have some bigger ones as well. The point is: I never had a chance for a ride in an Ambassador :sad:

5th Jun 2014, 09:03
The last DC-3 was built nearly seventy years ago, and there are a few pre-WWII aircraft atill earning their living in the air, so the Ambassador still has a fair way to go...

5th Jun 2014, 09:58
I cannot remember how long ago but there was a dealer in London who sold new Ambassadors.

Ancient Observer
5th Jun 2014, 12:16
Some one said they were comfy........??????

Not on the old road from Delhi to Agra in the early 90s they were not. It wasn't really a road, it was a series of pot-holes linked to-gether in places with sand and the odd bit of tarmac.

They opened a much better road a couple of years ago.

By the way, I noted that on a recent trip to India, they were repairing a part of the new road............as ever, laying new tarmac on top of dust, gravel and sand. Thinks - that won't last long.

5th Jun 2014, 15:39
Metro Man
Not sure of the English spelling, I thought it was Pecan, either way I was told w hen I was there that it meant Hunter in Farsi, which if true would make sense.


9th Jul 2014, 09:48
BBC News - An epitaph for India's 'appalling' national car (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28085095)

9th Jul 2014, 09:53
I thought it was Pecan, I was told that it meant Hunter in Farsi

Iran bids farewell to Hillman Hunter | World news | The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/apr/22/iran.roberttait)

Ancient Mariner
9th Jul 2014, 10:24
Anyone remember the Turkish Anadol? "Designed", and I use the term loosely, by British Reliant and "powered", and I use the term loosely, by a 1.3 liter Ford "engine", and I use the term loosely.
Had them as taxis in Istanbul, going up the steep hills the driver would rev out first gear, crash into second, engine would promptly die, exercise repeated. For anyone with a smidgen of mechanical sympathy it was torture.
Much preferred the 50's Yank iron also used as taxis there at the time.

9th Jul 2014, 10:34

Sounds like a brand of headache tablets. Maybe needed in that vehicle?

9th Jul 2014, 10:56
Anadol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anadol)

10th Jul 2014, 14:15
BBC News - An epitaph for India's 'appalling' national car (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28085095)