20 October, 2020

The Mobile Republic

Old is gold. Ask her fans, as the grande dame of Indian cars, the Amby, turns 50.

Swapan Nayak
The Mobile Republic
Stodgy, clumsy, ugly—these are some of the favoured epithets used to describe an enduring symbol of India's ill-fated flirtation with socialism: the Ambassador car. But critics of the lumbering Amby need to watch their words. As the car that began its journey by rolling out of the Uttarpara plant in Bengal's Hooghly district in 1957 celebrates its golden jubilee this year, it is transforming itself into a new symbol of retro chic.

On its 50th birthday, the Ambassador looks snazzier than before—the recently launched Ambassador Avigo's special features include a new minimalist dashboard, a sun roof, a writing desk for the rear left side passenger, leather-trimmed seats, a reading lamp, a powerful AC, a state-of-the-art Kenwood stereo, grille and chrome trimmings, new bumpers and a better exhaust system to reduce noise. The Ambassador Grand, too, has been jazzed up with new features.

They do not, however, alter the overall look of a car that appeals to its diehard fans for the very stodginess that its critics decry. These are fans...


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