The Amby – in Bahrain!

Look what I found – in Bahrain – today!
It’s the Ambassador – the car that India once loved.
This was that all-time favourite of virtually anyone in the country, anywhere, who owned a car until the automotive revolution signalled the beginning of its end and it finally breathed its last on Mat 25, 2014, when the last vehicle rolled out from its Uttarpara factory in the Eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The successor to the ever-popular British Morris Oxford III, production was stopped since there was no demand and several hundred staff had not been paid their wages for six months on the go.
It had to happen. Since starting production in 1958, the Ambassador had not changed, and it was soon overtaken by the Toyotas, the Suzukis and the Hondas, until the factory could no longer sustain itself.
This gem of a vehicle was once a powerhouse, symbolised the state, and was ridden by Prime Ministers, Presidents, Chief Ministers, collectors and police chiefs.
It is now rarely seen even in India, but for Metros like Kolkata and, perhaps, Delhi, where they are used as rattletrap taxicabs.
No wonder, then, that I was amused and immediately clicked a couple of pictures. I was not the only one, Several others also stopped by but the Indians among them were the most awestruck. After all, what’s an Ambassador doing on the roads, and that too in Bahrain? And, to top it all, it appeared to be in perfect condition.
And, wait, that’s not all. The steering wheel was on the RIGHT-HAND side like cars in India, which drives on the left side of the road like the United Kingdom, even though we drive ‘on the right in Bahrain!
I would have wanted to meet the owner and take a look at him. Wonder who he is? Indian, Bahraini, British, or just some eccentric car collector! I may never know, unless I run into him at the filling station or at another parking lot!!

Sir Ambassador


The humble Ambassador is the best taxi in the world – so says BBC Top Gear!

It didn’t require Top Gear to say that, I have already known it since I was this much. It is not only the best taxi in the world, it is the best thing on four wheels and that’s not an exaggeration!

It may not have the best looks, but it’s virtually indestructible. It can take twists and turns, bumps and potholes and can carry up to 10 people without whining. That’s the Ambassador.

The successor to the British legend Morris, this “box of steel” is still the preferred “official” vehicle for politicians and police officers of all hues in India and, complete with the red light sitting on top, scores of them are lined up outside Parliament in new Delhi when Indian lawmakers are in session.

Though most of them are falling apart and many have difficulty is staying roadworthy, these ‘yellow cabs’, as they are called in Kolkata, still rule the streets in the taxi business of the metropolis.

The Ambassador was also the only car I knew as a child when we went around sitting at the back of this virtual living room. No other car worth the name existed then and no other vehicle came close. The strangest thing was that every new model of Ambassador looked exactly like the previous one, barring some cosmetic changes on door handles and hinges.

It is still made in very much the same way and is still in the same shape but it is no longer sold to the public.

The government swears by it. The police trust it and, now, Top Gear has endorsed it.

Truly India’s Ambassador!