The Rare Ambassador

BY CHARLES TARR

The Hindustan Ambassador is a ubiquitous vehicle across the streets of India. To all intents and purposes a licensed Morris Oxford, these humble cars are best-known for their use as taxi cabs, thanks to their reliability and simplicity, and enjoying almost unrivalled success across the country for a number of years.

In the late 1980s, Hindustan turned to the export market to increase their sales, and began sending Ambassadors back ‘home’ to England, trying to appeal to expats and those with a nostalgic outlook on motoring. Unfortunately, despite their initial low list price of just over £7,000 they failed to achieve any real sales success.

To counter this, the UK importers changed their name to ‘Fullbore’ in the 1990s, and essentially rebuilt the car – a top-spec Ambassador – once it hit English shores, to increase the appeal and conform to EEC safety & emissions regulations.

The 1.8l, 74bhp Isuzu engine remained the same, but the paintwork was re-sprayed to survive the English climate, while heaters and catalytic converters were installed, along with new weather seals, tyres and a front anti-roll-bar to help the handling. Thankfully, this did increase the sales of the Ambassador (now christened the “Fullbore Mark 10” in the UK) but sales still remained low, making these cars a true rarity these days.