Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Mighty Hindustan Ambassador

Someone told me that “Top Gear” had done a test of taxis from around the world (including the Hindustan) - a very "scientific" test I'm sure, as only "Top Gear" can do.

Apparently, the Hindustan came out on top.

Here’s are a few articles I found:

Ambassador ranked the world's best taxi

Press Trust of India | Updated: July 21, 2013 12:45 IST

New Delhi/Kolkata: It may have lost out to the more modern competitors from Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Toyota and Honda but the good old Ambassador car, which once ruled the roost in India, has just been voted as the world's best taxi by global automotive programme Top Gear.

In a show, which is being aired on the BBC, Top Gear's executive director Richard Hammond organised a world taxi shootout in which Ambassador emerged a winner, beating competitors from all over the globe.

"The winner was India's virtually indestructible Hindustan Ambassador," UK-based motor museum Beaulieu, where the 'World of Top Gear' featuring vehicles from some of the most ambitious challenges are also showcased, said in a statement.

This particular example proved just how enduring the Ambassador really is when it saw off rivals from Britain, America, Germany, South Africa, Mexico and Russia to be named the world's best taxi, it added.

The Hindustan Ambassador started life in Britain as the Morris Oxford but, with a quick name change, it went on to become one of India's most enduring vehicles.

"It's (Ambassador) so tough that, although it now lives in World of Top Gear, with a quick wash and brush up, it could be back in service tomorrow - probably," the statement said.

In 1948, CK Birla Group firm Hindustan Motors Ltd began the production of the Ambassador at Uttarpara in Hooghly district, West Bengal.

Till the arrival of the Maruti in the early 80s, the Ambassador was the status symbol in India. Gradually it lost out to various global competitors when it came to personal usage but continued to be the favourite vehicle for government officials and also in the taxi segment.

In the recent past, its sales in both the segments have shown a decline and in 2012-13, the Ambassador sold a total of just 3,390 units. This fiscal, it has sold only 709 units in the April-June period.



Top Gear: series 20, episode 2, BBC Two, review

Gerard O'Donovan reviews the second episode of the new series of Top Gear on BBC Two


The Top Gear team
11:04PM BST 07 Jul 2013

Even for those of us happy to regard Top Gear (BBC Two) as one of the most entertaining shows on air, tonight’s edition had the world’s toughest TV act to follow: Murray winning at Wimbledon – can television get any more emotionally exhausting than that? Still Clarkson & Co managed to crank our wrung-out pleasure centres up through the gears again with an opening review of what looked to be another British triumph – the BAC Mono, a fine looking amalgam (if the Top Gear commentary is to be relied upon) of van engine, F3 gearbox and robot-design, which not only fulfilled its billing as “the best thing to come out of Cheshire since the cheese” but also managed the more astonishing feat of getting around the legendary Top Gear track in the second fastest time, ever. Always eager to appeal to the show’s female demographic Clarkson went to enormous lengths to point out how they, especially, might enjoy the remarkable “tingling, vibrationy” quality the car exhibited at higher rev levels. That’s about as classy as this show aims to get.

Obviously no Top Gear is complete without a spot of wanton destruction, in this case supplied by Richard Hammond’s efforts to determine which of the world’s taxis was the best. His highly “scientific” test amounted to subjecting a selection of global people ferriers– everything from a Russian stretch limo to a Mexican VW Beetle – to a stock car race. Rampant aggression, chaos and a vast –even by this show’s high standards – amount of onscreen carnage followed. All of which was perfect post-tennis stress-relief and, no doubt, absolutely necessary when it came to proving that London’s black cabs are no match for India’s virtually indestructible Hindustan Ambassador.

A rather dull, mostly engineless and rather pointless tribute to BBC Television Centre was balanced out with a charming appearance by A-list Hollywood film director Ron Howard in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car slot. As ever this was accompanied by some shameless pluggery; but at least Howard’s latest, Rush, was more relevant to the show than most – the 1970s rivalry between F1 drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt, a subject likely to provoke insane levels of excited anticipation among many of the show’s petrol-head viewers.

That was certainly the only sign of anything reasonably priced in this edition, as the final segment was Clarkson’s blistering review of the latest supercar from Ferrari. A snip at a mere £240,000 the Ferrari F12 is not a car most of us will ever get behind the wheel of, let alone queue up to buy. But that’s half the pleasure of watching Clarkson whizzing through the countryside in a long red blur. That and seeing him reduced to a babbling imbecile (some might say that, in itself, is not a long journey) by the sheer intensity of driving such a mechanical work of art. He even managed to stuff a crafty tennis analogy in, about how driving the F12 had a similar effect on the senses as being hit by a barrage of balls. Not entirely unlike the effect of Top Gear itself.

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