Who killed the Ambassador?

He was the epitome of power. He was an icon. He rode with equal easy in the power corridors and on the streets. People just loved him! And yet, when his end came, it was just a pale whimper; people just gave up on him. 

The last of the iconic Ambassador car has rolled out of the production line.

Ambassador, fondly called Amby, was the first car to be manufactured in India. Originally based on Morris Oxford, the design of the Ambassador had not changed much since it started production in 1957. Not so long ago, it was the only car driven by politicians and government officials.  Last year, BBC’s Top Gear show crowned Ambassador as the world’s best taxi. And yet, in May 2014, when the last of the Amby rolled out of the production line at Uttarpara, West Bengal, there was hardly a tear shed!

I was going through whatever scanty opinions written so far about the demise of Amby and every one shared more or less the same opinion: the car failed to live up to the market demands. On the other hand, the owners have cited falling demand, indiscipline at its Uttarpara plant, and a serious shortage of funds for the closure.

Whatever be the reasons for non-production of the iconic car, I think Amby was a great equalizer in the Indian society.

Every society has its own status symbols — it could be the locality you live in, the cars you drive, the restaurants you visit, or just the clothes you wear. A person is measured on any one of these or more parameters to identify his locus standi in the society.  Amby was owned by the rich and powerful as well as a person on the street — how many such icons can we boost of?

People may argue that Amby did not adapt to the changing needs of the society. But in the name of adaptation would a modified Amby just have the same charm that was cherished by generations of Indians? I do not think so.

At the end of the day, the Ambassador car or Amby is an Indian  cultural icon. If we have something like a National Car, just like a National Animal or a Bird, it would be the Ambassador without a second thought!


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