10 Iconic Cars that Once Ruled the Indian Roads. If No.7 Was Your Car, the Neighbors Definitely Envied You!

Indian automobile industry has come a long way. Now, even in remote towns you might find BMWs, Audis & may be even a Ferrari. Its amazing to think that few decades back we had different set of machines ruling the streets. They were not as powerful as today’s cars yet they were a considered a status symbol in society.

Lets take a trip back in time and look at 10 cars that once ruled the Indian roads:

1. Hindustan Motors Ambassador


Lets start off the list with an all time classic. The car that could fit any number of people, go through absolutely anything and could run for years. The Hindustan Motors Ambassador was a true legend based on the British Morris Oxford which was also the first car that was “Made in India” After coming of cars from Japanese manufactures the grand old Ambassador lost its dominance and was finally discontinued.

2. Tata Sierra


The Tata Sierra was a one of a kind automobile when it was first launched in India. Powered by a 1.9 l engine, the Sierra had many firsts for cars in India such as adjustable steering, power windows, power steering the distinctive glass window for rear passengers. Some automobile enthusiasts have restored many Sierra’s in the recent past but the car is known to produce nagging issues.

3. Standard 2000


The Standard 2000 was a 2000 cc, 4 speed manual car that could hit a top speed of 145 km/hr. Even though the specs do not seem like much now, back in the day, this was a formidable machine on Indian roads. Didn’t look so bad either.

4. Maruti Gypsy


This is one car on the list that is still available for purchase. Extensively used by military personnel, Maruti Gypsy was loved by off-roaders and would go almost anywhere. It became popular with rally racers because of its ability to go off road. However, many people did complain about the poor fuel efficient and rear seating comfort. With so many off road vehicles available would you actually buy this today?

5. Premier Padmini


Old-time car lovers will always remember this little car that once zipped through the Indian roads. Manufactured in India from 1973 to 1998, the Padmini was owned by many celebrities of the time including the one and only superstar Rajnikanth. From the mid 1980s as Maruti began to dominate the Indian market, the Padmini lost its appeal with the masses and was on a decline.

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  1. Kris, Its a good compilation of cars of the yester-years.

    You need to factor in Fiat Petra as well. It was a car that was way ahead of its time introduced in 2005. This was the upgraded version of the Fiat Sienna with better engine performance introduced on Fiat Petra

    Fiat Petra is a 1.6 Litre, 100 Bhp sedan offering 137NM peak Torque at 2400 RPM and Kerb weight of 1120 Kgs. It was a sturdy racer. Not many people bought it at that time (1. due to the reputation of the Fiat Sienna being a gas guzzler and 2. Mass market mindset still prefered a mileage car as compared to a high spec sedan). This car was meant for car enthusiasts who understood what’s underneath the hood and not just what’s packed in the Interiors. It could outdo a Honda Vtec engine on 3rd gear itself. On 4th Gear the car was capable of touching 140 Kmph without a groan.

    I have been driving this car for the last 11 1/2 years and by far mine is the only car (maybe you will find one more around the suburbs of Thane) that one will see on the Bombay roads. I have held on to this car for the simple reason that none of the today’s breeds of cars (in that segment) carry a spec of 1.6 L, 100 Bhp and 137Nm Torque and offers the best road grip and stability at high speeds. Even my second car Toyota Altis 2014 (1.8 L engine, 140 bhp) does not offer as good a handling stability as the Fiat Petra.

    You may want to research this car at your end and possibly add it to your List.

    Great work on the compilation..!

    Rupesh Bhambwani

    • Yes indeed Petra was a far better option than most of the sedans available back then. Fiat cars are sturdy & are known for their high speed stability. I drive a petrol turbo Fiat linea ( tjet), it has tremendous road grip & twice the torque than a normally aspirated petrol engine. Trip digit speeds can be achieved easily.

  2. I loved the conty. Wonder why Hindustan motors got shut down. Loved the ambassador also.

  3. My most favorite standard 2000. If available today would have gone with out a second thought.

  4. Esteem is a still a legend and forever and believe me that’s the best car under 50k not even a single issue with that car.its always fun to drive it anywhere in the world

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