10 Indian cars that stuck around for the longest time
25th May 2018 11:52 am
As Tata draws the curtains on the Indica, here's a list of cars that soldiered on for years and years - including some that are still going strong!
Tata Motors has now ended production of the Indica, having produced its hatchback for the masses for nearly 20 years. But if you think that's a long time, wait till you have a look at this list of the 10 cars that have stuck around for a truly long time. And we mean it - if they were human, most of the cars on this list would be classified as adults!
Hindustan Ambassador (1958-2014) 56 years
Every member of your family will have some sort of memory associated with this car - right from your grandparents to your 20-something cousin. And that's because the Hindustan Ambassador was around for more than half a century. It has transcended eras and turned into something of an icon. Evolving from the Landmaster in 1958, the HM Ambassador has essayed every role - from being the ride of choice for political figures to being the yellow-hued Kolkata taxi. And while production of the 'Amby' ended in 2014, this car was around for far too long to be forgotten anytime soon.
Premier Padmini 1100 (1964-1998) 34 years
A rival to the Ambassador, the Premier Padmini was essentially a rebadged version of the Fiat 1100 'Delight', which was went on sale in 1964. Eight years later, Premier Automobiles Limited started producing its own version of the 1100, which was at first called the President, and then named the Padmini. Being the only real alternative to the Amby at the time, the Padmini was pretty popular through the 1980s, and has come to be associated with the Mumbai cityscape, in its kaali-peeli avatar.
Maruti Omni (1984-to date) 34 years and counting
Maruti wanted to get straight to the point with the first iteration of the Omni - which was simply called the Van, when it was introduced in 1984. A few years down the line, Maruti renamed it the 'Omni', but its purpose was still the same - to get as many people from point A to point B as possible for the least amount of money as possible. Over three decades later, the Omni still continues to be as value-for-money as ever, with 5- and 8-seat versions still on sale at a price of Rs 3.35/3.36 lakh (on-road, Mumbai).
Maruti Gypsy (1985-to date) 33 years and counting
A 4x4 India learnt to off-road in, the Gypsy is close to many hearts. It has always had this macho vibe to it, helped in no small way by the fact that it featured in several police fleets, is still a favourite with the army and is possibly the most successful Indian rally car of all time. Compact, capable and hard-wearing, the plucky little Suzuki off-roader is also around still, and retails for Rs 7.02 lakh for the soft-top and Rs 7.18 lakh for the hard-top version (prices on-road, Mumbai).
Maruti 800 (1986-2014) 28 years
The car that put India behind the wheel is probably the most iconic car in Indian car history. It was the 800 that enabled the masses to drive, and gave them a real, modern-day small car that they could cut their teeth on. Most people learned how to drive in an 800, and it continued to be a key model for Maruti late into its lifecycle, before it was finally discontinued three decades after its launch, in 2014. But it's safe to say that if it was still on sale, the 800 would still find plenty of takers in rural India
Tata Sumo (1994-to date) 24 years and counting
If you've ever toured the hinterlands, there’s a good chance you would have done so in a Tata Sumo. Tata's spacious, tough-as-nails people-carrier has been around since 1994, and while it has seen plenty of updates over the years, the basic formula (and structure) remains the same: maximum seats, maximum practicality, boxy shape and a value-for-money price tag: Rs 8.68-9.44 lakh (on-road, Mumbai). Yes, there are way more modern alternatives available to the Sumo, but some still swear by the sheer space it continues to offer, and it continues to soldier on.
Tata Safari (1998-to date) 20 years and counting
Here's another Tata on this list: the SUV India lusted after in the early 2000s, the Safari did macho like few others. It was brawny, had a turbo-diesel and was the politician’s favourite during election time. Yes, this, too, has seen several major revisions over a course of time - and is now called the Safari Storme - but the basic idea with the Safari has also remained the same. Again, at Rs 12.99-18.65 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), it is not exactly cheap and has more modern rivals to square up against, but the ageing Safari has its own sweet base of loyalists.
Tata Indica (1998-2018) 20 years
The Indica was unveiled at the 1998 Auto Expo amid much fanfare - and it took one and all by surprise. Styled by Italian design house I.DE.A, the Indica was the India's first truly indigenous car, and it was well-proportioned and offered a great amount of space on the inside. Additionally, it promised great value - when it was launched in the month of December that year, it undercut the-then king of the Indian car market, the venerable Maruti 800, by a margin of Rs 30,000. While the original Indica was plagued by teething issues, the V2 model update – introduced in 2001 - sorted them all out and ensured the Indica enjoyed a solid run on the sales charts for several years.
Mahindra Bolero (2000-to date) 18 years and counting
Mahindra's trusty workhorse has been around for longer than you'd think. It started off in life way back in 2000, meant as a hardy, purpose-built utility vehicle that would be a solid enough offering for rural India, and that's where the Bolero has enjoyed the most success. With several updates over the course of its lifetime, the Bolero has managed to stay relatively fresh, and still continues to register decent sales numbers.
Maruti Versa/Eeco (2001-to date) 17 years and counting
Introduced originally as the Versa, Maruti's high-riding MPV didn't exactly set sales charts on fire over its nine-year lifecycle - not even with Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan endorsing it. But in 2010, Maruti reworked the Versa and relaunched it as a more cost-effective offering in the form of the Eeco, which has turned out to be a hit in the taxi market.