Cars that changed India – is a debatable topic for starters. How exactly one can define a car that changed the entire trend of the Indian automobile industry? Perhaps the Maruti 800 that taught masses how to drive, or maybe the Hindustan Ambassador, crowned as the world's best taxi by Top Gear, set new standards of build quality in India? Or may be the Nano, the car that came as the most affordable and commutable option for the middle-class buyers? In this gallery you will find the top 10 cars that have changed India on social and economical levels.
AMBASSADOR - Based on the old Morris Oxford Series III, the iconic Amby is loved by all generations in India. It was always among the preferred choices of the Indian bureaucrats and politicians, and some of them still pin faith on it. Sadly, this car's production was stopped in 2014 due to really low demand. In 2017, Hindustan Motors sold the Ambassador to the French carmaker – Peugeot for Rs 80 crore.
PREMIER PADMINI - Premier Padmini was in production from 1964 to 2000, and it ruled the Indian roads in 1970s and 80s. This legendary car was manufactured by Premier Automobiles Limited under Fiat license, and was initially marketed as Fiat 1100 Delight. The heydays of the car got over a long back, but you can still watch them running as taxis in Mumbai. Named after the queen Padmini, the car has always been admired for its retro looks.
MAHINDRA JEEP - Before the spate of the SUVs, the Mahindra Jeep was the only off-roader that conquered India's toughest terrains. Most of the adventure enthusiasts still swear by its robust body-built and strong off-road capabilities. Inspired by the success of the Barney Roos' Jeep during world war II, Mahindra started assembling Jeeps under the licence of the Willys Jeep in 1945. However, the vehicle was phased out few years back.
HINDUSTAN CONTESSA - Renowned as "The Indian Limousine", the Hindustan Contessa was one of the most luxurious cars during its times. With a glorious history of two eras, the Contessa is now counted among the antique master pieces. Automobile enthusiasts touted it as "The First Indian Muscle Car". Based on British-made Vauxhall Victor, this iconic car is one of the rare old cars that's body-built suitable for modern customization. Contessa production was stopped in 2002.
MARUTI 800 - MSI's iconic small car, Maruti 800 was the first car owned by several Indian families. It's the car that changed India by revolutionizing road transport for millions families. Launched in 1984, the Maruti 800 achieved more than 2.4 millions units sales till its discontinuation in 2014. The last unit of the hatchback was produced was a Firebrick Red M800, and rolled off from Maruti Suzuki’s assembly line based in Gurugaon.
MARUTI SUZUKI ALTO - For over a decade, the Maruti Suzuki Alto has been the top-selling car in India. In 2014, the Alto became the first made-in-India best-selling small car in the world. With its compact design, frugal engine and affordable pricing, the Alto appeals middle-class Indian buyers.
HYUNDAI SANTRO - Launched in September 1998, the Hyundai Santro was the first car from the South Korean carmaker in the Indian market. The car became an instant hit, and bagged many prestigious awards during its lifespan. The hatchback received its first major update in 2003, and bit farewell to India in 2014.
TATA INDICA - The Tata Indica that was launched in 1998, is widely acknowledged as India's first indigenously-developed passenger car. In 2001, the car became the best-selling small car in the Indian market. The Indica was favoured for its spacious interior, fuel efficient engine and affordable pricing. It was Ratan Tata’s most ambitious project at time. Now-a-days, the hatchback is quite popular among taxi operators.
TATA NANO - Tata Motors introduced its most affordable 'People's Car' – the Nano – in January 2009. The hatchback set a new benchmark with its compact and mono-volume design. With quite an aggressive pricing, the Nano accomplished dreams of owning a four-wheeler of many middle class buyers. However with competition offering better products at a slightly higher price range, the Nano started losing its charm. Also as Mr. Ratan Tata himself said that the tag of being the 'cheapest' car worked against the vehicle.