Maruti 800: Top five things that elevated India’s first people’s car to an iconic status

The Hindustan Ambassador and Premier Padmini are the beginning of cars in India as we know them for kids born in the 80s and 90s, but the Maruti 800 gave more people the strength of owning their own car.

By:Published: May 12, 2020 4:31 PM

Maruti 800 top five things

The good ‘ol days of Maruti 800s remind us of simpler times when the only social media we knew about was to call or drive to a friend’s house to say hi and of course, of a car that pretty much changed the way Indian’s perceived owning a car of their own. The Hindustan Ambassador and Fiat Padmini are the beginning of cars in India as we know them for kids born in the 80s and 90s, but the Maruti 800 gave more people the strength of owning their own car. So, as an ode to the Indian icon, here are five things that elevated it to that status.

Price and value

It isn’t news that India is a price-sensitive market and when Maruti launched the 800 in 1983, it carried a price tag of Rs 48,000. It shot to instant fame and was a hot seller at a time when alternatives were priced much higher and weren’t as practical as the little 800.

First front-wheel-drive car in India

The Maruti 800 disrupted the market which was then reigned by Hindustan Ambassador and Premier Padmini which were all heavy rear-wheel-drive cars. Maruti took the more cost-effective path of a front-wheel-drive system which also made it lighter. Hence, the small car with its 796cc engine was capable of speeds of over 140 km/h.

Maruti became a household name with the 800

Maruti 800 grew ever so popular that it is still to date considered one of the trustworthy cars ever to have been sold in the country. With the 800, Maruti grew as a household name with generations of families sticking to bringing home a Maruti and then later a Maruti Suzuki.

Also read: Covid-19 lockdown: Maruti Suzuki restarts production at Manesar plant with single shift

First owner of Maruti 800 never upgraded

Harpal Singh was the first owner of Maruti 800 in India. He received the key to the car from then prime minister of India Indira Gandhi on 14 December 1983. Singh had for some 27 years – never sold it, nor upgraded to a new car. He passed away in 2010 but the car still remains with the family.

First car for some of India’s biggest celebrities

Many celebrities bought the Maruti 800 even before it went on to become an icon. The Master Blaster – Sachin Tendulkar has had one for years now and still has it parked in his garage. Another big name is that of Shah Rukh Khan who bought his car in Delhi and drove it to Mumbai.

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