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Morris: Real gone: Indian Morris Oxford

16 June, 2014


Made under license in India since 1957, the last Hindustan Ambassador rolled off the production line in West Bengal last week. if you’ve ever stepped into a taxi cab when visiting India you’ll be familiar with the Ambassador — a car that has become something of a motoring icon for millions.

Based on the Morris Oxford SIII, the Ambassador was built using production tools originally imported from the UK during the ’50s.

Sales of the car have been on the decline since the ’80s and the makers also say that industrial problems have contributed to ceasing production of the Ambassador.

As well, many point out that the Hindustan is a by-product of a long gone era and say that India is now looking at more modern vehicles from makers such as Mahindra and Tata.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.