‘The Ambassador will see you now…’

I was a little saddened to read this week that India’s oldest car maker, the Kolkota-based Hindustan Motors, said reduced demand and accumulated losses had wiped out over half its net worth.

Since the liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990’s India’s roads have been filled with gleaming new cars. I do sincerely hope that Hindustan’s most famous vehicle has some mileage in it yet.

The Ambassador is such a feature of the Indian landscape that it’s demise is almost unthinkable. I think it’s by far the most reliable and sturdy vehicle on the Indian roads and, by dint of its ubiquity, it can be repaired almost anywhere very quickly. Usually by a combination of hammers, tape and brute force.

The extraordinary Raghubir Singh who it is my great regret never to have met, used the car as a device in his wonderful, A Way into India.

Here’s a recent image of mine of an ‘Ambi’ parked on a quiet street in Tamil Nadu with a rather lovely garland hanging from the mirror

India - Tamil Nadu - A garland of flowers hang from the mirror of an Hindustan Ambassador car in the town of Swamimalai