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India at 75: Iconic cars made in India after independence [1963 – 1972]

This was a decade of contrasts — While on the one hand, it saw the gigantic SAIL factories coming up, the first of IITs, it was also the time when the Indian economy struggled. A look at how domestic car makers fared amidst all.

India at 75: Iconic cars made in India after independence [1963 - 1972]
India at 75: Iconic cars made in India after independence [1963 – 1972]

Continuing with our series of the most iconic cars after winning freedom in 1947, we take you to the next decade … the time between 1963-1972. Perhaps this is the period that will go down in the pages of history more for the wars that the Indian Army tackled than what the Indian car makers manufactured, it was truly a period when – ‘it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,’ in Dickens’ words.

Though you had the occasional Impala buzzing past in busy metro cities, the list of domestic manufacturers stayed the same as the previous decade. Join us on this journey through the lanes of nostalgia –

India at 75: Iconic cars made in India after independence [1963 – 1972]

Amabassador Mark II

Hindustan Motors’ Amabassador literally rules the street across the country. Be it the politicians, bureaucrats or the common man, just about anybody in need of a power ride, comfortable travel or a reliable partner, the Amby was the choice.

The HM Ambassador Mark II was the highlight of the 60s. It definitely had a distinctively different styling as compared to its previous avatar, the Mark I. There were some changes in the external design too and the front grille and taillamps underwent a certain amount of redesigning. In terms of the Mark II’s interior design, the dashboard and the embesllishments in wood saw some upgradation. However, the 1.5 litre engine, the 4-speed manual transmission and the car’s rear-wheel drive remained the same as Mark I.

Also Read: India at 75: Iconic cars made in India after Independence [2013 – 2022]

Fiat 1100

Easily the closest competitor of Ambassador, the Premier Padmini started production in 1964. Based on the original Fiat 1200 GranLuce Berlina, the Fiat 1100 Delight had a 1221 cc engine and 4-speed manual gear box. Relatively streamlined compared to the snub nosed Amby, it caught on popularity, especially amongst the aspiring Indian middle-class of that time. It eventually went on to the rule the Indian roads in ensuing decades.

Standard Herald Mark II

The Standard Herald was the most talked about offering from Standard Motor Production in this decade. Though this car was badged in India, it was initially dependent on the British part. However as the decade progressed, indigenous parts began replacing and the the Standard Herald Mark II debuted in 1966. The bonnet and the fron-end of the Vitesse still featured in this variant but the outer pair of headlights were replaced with parking lights cum side-indicators.

Standard Herald Mark III

This variant was manufactured between 1968-1971 and the highlight was no doubt the four-door body that was developed indigenously. More of a function of yielding to pressure from competition, this was targetted towards the large Indian families opting for the Ambassador or the Fiat 1100.

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Mahindra FC

Mahindra started assembling the CKD units of the Jeep FC in Mumbai in 1947 and later started the production in 1965. The Mahindra FC was available in various body styles like bus and pick-up trucks.

Gazel

If you are looking for highlights towards the rear end of this decade, one needs to surely talk about the Gazel. In 1972, the Herald was remodeled with brand new suspension and a new differetial to the Standard Gazel. The grille and headlights too got a makeover and the tail lights now were rectangular in shape. The engine remaind the same though, the 948 cc single carb.

Also Read: 2022 Honda CB300F vs CB300R: Price, specs, features comparison

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