Ten amazing facts about Indian cars: From Tata Sumo’s name to the first Indian to own a car

How much do you know about the Indian Automotive industry? In this story, we give you our list of top 10 things that you should know about the Indian Automotive industry, from the first Indian to own a car, to the first completely Indian automobile. Find out how many you knew correctly!

By: | Updated: July 12, 2018 3:17 PM
Top Ten Facts About Indian Cars: How many did you know? Top Ten Facts About Indian Cars: How many did you know ?

Today, the Indian Automotive Industry is one of the largest in the world, and is set to post healthy growth in the years to come. However, the country’s automotive market started from humble roots and has come along way since then with many interesting stories to tell. Strangely, there are so many things left to know about the Industry and its rich history. Here are our Top 10 fact from the Indian Automotive Industry, that include, the first car to be manufactured in India, the first Indian to own a car and lots more. Read on and see how many you knew correctly.

The first car to be manufactured in India:

First Car to be built in India: The HM Ambassador was manufactured under license from Morris from the HM plant in Hooghly, Kolkata

The first car to be manufactured in India was the Hindustan Ambassador, which was largely based on the Morris Oxford from the UK. It was built in Calcutta through a technical collaboration with Morris Motors to manufacture Morris Oxford models that would later become the HM Ambassador. The first Ambassador rolled off the lines in mid-1957, more than 70 years ago.

First Indian Indigenous Indian car

First Indian Indigenous Car: Ratan Tata drives the first Indica of the line!

India’s first indigenous car was the Tata Indica, that was built from scratch in India. It was launched surrounding a huge fanfare at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show and made it to the Indian Auto Expo later in the same year.  The Tata Indica made it to the market in 1999. Although the Indica might be out of production today, it’ll always be remembered for marking India’s entry into the personal car space.

First Indian to own a car

The first Indian man to own a car was the grandfather of the man who would go on to build the first Indian indigenous car. While the first car to come to India in 1897 was owned by an English man Mr Foster of Crompton Greaves. The following year, Jamshedji Tata became the first Indian to own a car.

Image: Team-BHP

First Indian electric car

Chetan Maini, with Maini Reva which is now sold as the Mahindra E20Chetan Maini, with Maini Reva which is now sold as the Mahindra E20

With the hype surrounding the electric revolution in India just gaining momentum, one might think that the first Indian electric car was something that happened in the recent past. Quite contrary, as the first entirely home-grown Indian electric car was launched just 3 years after India’s first indigenous car in 2001. Designed and built by Chetan Maini in Bangalore, the Maini Reva may not have done very well in India but as the G-Wiz the Maini Reva had better sales in the UK.

Image: Greencardesign

First convertible in India

First convertible in : 1963 Standard HeraldFirst convertible in : 1963 Standard Herald

The first convertible in India was manufactured by Standard in 1965, based on the Triumph Herald platform which first made it to India as a CKD in 1963. Over the next few years more & more parts were localised leading to the Standard Herald Hardtop convertible.

Image: Droom.in

Tata Sumo- How it got its name!


Tata Sumo and Sumant Moolgaokar(Inset)Tata Sumo and Sumant Moolgaokar(Inset)

The Tata Sumo is perhaps one of India’s most iconic people movers, but while most people might think that the Sumo was named such because of its size and dimensions., It was actually a tribute to Sumant Moolgaokar, a former MD of Tata Motors. The name Sumo is a play on the first syllable of his first and last name. It’s just a happy coincidence that name fitted so well on the MPV.

First motorsport event in India

First Motorsport Event: 1904 the starters at the first motor rally in India, and there's a motorcycle too!First Motorsport Event: 1904 the starters at the first motor rally in India, and there's a motorcycle too!

A popular belief is that the first motorsport event in India took place at the Sholavaram track in Chennai, somewhere post-independence. The first recorded motorsport event actually took place in Calcutta as far back as 28th August 1904, which was an endurance rally between Kolkata (then still Calcutta) and neighbouring Barrackpore involving 11 cars. At the time this was 20% of all cars on the road in Calcutta!

Image: Autojunction.in

First Indian-built Jeep

First Indian Built Jeep outside the Mahindra & Mahindra Assembly plantFirst Indian Built Jeep outside the Mahindra & Mahindra Assembly plant

Mahindra & Mahindra was the first to build Willy’s Jeep in India in 1949, following the lease of a 11,071 Sq. ft facility at Mazgaon from British India Steam navigation. The first Willys Overland Jeep was built in India at the Assembly Plant in Mazgaon, Bombay.

Maruti 800 Launch and first owner

Maruti 800: Indira Gandhi and Osamu Suzuki at the launch of the Maruti 800Maruti 800: Indira Gandhi and Osamu Suzuki at the launch of the Maruti 800

The Maruti 800 which was launched in 1983, is the car that really changed the pace of the Indian automotive industry. The original car that was codenamed the SS80 was based on the 1979 Suzuki Fronte and had an 800 cc F8B engine, Widely regarded as the most influential automobile in India, about 28 lakh 800s were produced, of which 26 lakh were sold in India. The first car was handed over by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Mr Harpal Singh, who won the ownership rights through a lucky draw.

Image: Forbes.Com

First Indian driver in F1, WRC

The First Indian Formula one driver was Narain Karthikeyan. He made his Formula One debut in 2005 with the Jordan team and was a Williams F1 test driver in 2006 and 2007. He was followed by Karun Chandhok in 2010. India’s first driver in the WRC was Naren Kumar who drove the rally in February 2008 with Team Sidvin, a team launched with technical and vehicular support from four-time world rally champion Tommi Makinen.

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