In a day and age, when buying a car has become way too easier than ever, people have forgotten the value of automobiles, as it used to be 20 years ago from now. Manufacturers from across the globe are setting up their manufacturing shop in the country, producing budget cars, giving customers with loads of options to choose from.
But this wasn't the case few decades back, when owning a car was more of a status symbol than the actual requirement. Back then, cars were not as fancy as today and neither were they as powerful as the cars from now. But then again, these cars are icon in every way, as they were responsible for putting India on the wheels.
Here's a list of the top 10 iconic cars that once ruled the Indian roads!
1. Hindustan Motors Ambassador
No car deserves to start this list as much as the Hindustan Motors Ambassador does. The true blue iconic car of India was based on the British Morris Oxford and was the first car to be manufactured in India. The car was a hit among the politicians and fleet owners due to its immensely comfortable back seats and tank-like built, that can be driven on any roads for years and years to come. With the arrival of the Japanese cars, the good old Ambassador lost its charm, before it was discontinued for good.
2. Maruti Gypsy
The only car in the list that's still being manufactured, the Maruti Gypsy is immensely popular among the security forces and armed forces, both. Maruti Gypsy used to be the most affordable off-roading vehicle and still being used for rally racing purposes. Sadly, due to the poor mileage, single engine option (petrol) and poor seat comfort, it's no more a favourite among the buyers. Only enthusiasts are still opting for the vehicle, that too buying it from the user car market.
3. Premier Padmini
If you have ever been to Mumbai, you will be astonished to see the number of Premier Padminis plying on the roads. Don't recognize one? Well, look no further than the beloved Black-Yellow sedans - which are actually the Padminis. Manufactured in India from 1973-1998, the Padmini will always be remembered as the little white car with gears on the steering wheel, seen in innumerous movie. Again, the car lost its charm due to the arrival of the Japanese cars.
4. Maruti 800
So, we have been talking about the Japanese manufacturer who forced the likes of Ambassador and Padmini to shut down. The Maruti 800 is the product that forced most of the cars in the country to go out of the business. The "car that put India on wheels", as it was fondly called was an instant hit among the buyers given its price range, ease of driving and easy to maintain abilities. Rest all is history - Maruti Suzuki is unchallenged when it comes to domestic car sales and has a market share more than 50%!
5. Hindustan Motors Contessa
Probably the only muscle car from India, that was a heartthrob among the buyers, the demand for Hindustan Motors Contessa is still the same, even more, we will predict. Sadly, the Conty (as it was popularly called) is not in production anymore. The owners vouched for its comfort, space, AC and power. But more than all of this, the car had a presence and stance like none other in its time. We are pretty sure, if HM decides to revive the Moniker, there'll be a lot of buyers.
6. Maruti Esteem
Maruti Esteem was not a people carrier at its height, but a legend for whom rally racers swore by. The 1000 cc machine produced 65 horses and was soon replaced by a 85 HP motor. The compact boxy sedan can still be seen on Indian roads, running without any fuss at all. Its only problem was it could not keep it up with the time and lost it to the advancements in the technology. Yet, Esteem is one of the most solid and reliable products to ever run on the Indian roads.
7. Tata Sierra
Tata Sierra was a product ahead of its time, offering many firsts in the industry to the customers. The SUV came powered by a 1.9-litre engine and had features like adjustable steering, power windows, power steering and all these were the first time offerings in the market. But the real talking point was the distinctive glass window for the rear passengers, that gave a more than spacious feeling at the rear. But the car is the story of the past and you hardly spot and restored Sierra plying on the roads.
8. Standard 2000
Not many of the Millennials know this, but once there was an Indian brand called The Standard Motor Products of India Ltd. The company originally from U.K produced a solid sports car looking Standard 2000 that came equipped with a 2000 cc motor, mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox that could push the car to a top speed of 145 kmph. Back in the day, the Standard 2000 was a formidable machine that turned a lot of heads on the roads.
9. Fiat 118 NE
Yet another heavily sold car from Fiat (Premier Padmini was the most popular Fiat to be sold in India), the 118NE found a lot of buyers in the country, though, not as many as those of the Padmini. The car was based on the original 1966 model Fiat 124 and was launched in 1985, but with a few cosmetic changes. It was powered by a Nissan sourced 1171 cc, 52 horses producing A12 motor. But as it happened, the car lost its popularity to the growing competition.
10. Opel Astra
Last but not the least is the forgotten hero - the Opel Astra sedan, a small family car manufactured by German automobile manufacturer Opel, a subsidiary of American giant General Motors. The Astra sedan was a huge hit among the buyers and won many accolades internationally. Sold between 1996-2002, the sedan offered many features, but was taken off the shelf after a short stint in the country. Most of the cars sold in India have been scrapped and it's hard to find a model on roads now.