As a part of writing about some of the India’s best cars ever made, I came up with some old cars which were once considered as main stream of the Indian Automobile Industry. From Mitsubishi Lancer to Maruti Esteem these cars were once unbeatable in India. But none of these cars had a full-fledged Indian signature on it as Lancer is from Mitsubishi which is a Japan based company and Esteem is from Suzuki which is also another country company made.
Now I am going to tell you about a car which is considered as a “Full-Fledged Indian Car” and “A true Indian Pride”. I call this car so, because it was produced and manufactured right in India and it had very less involvement of other foreign companies. If you are a true Indian, you should know about this car as this is the only car then & until now, that is fully owned by India. There is no company like this until now. Can you guess it? Yeah it’s our very own Premier which was called by a second name “Padmini”.
Image Source: productioncars.com
Premier Padmini was actually manufactured in India during 1964-2000 by premier under license of the Italian automobile legend “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino”. Have you heard it ever before? Of course you heard it. It’s Fiat’s full name. Premier was produced under the vision of Fiat. Premier only used the license of Fiat and obtained some inspiration from Fiat’s 1100 deign, except for that Premier was fully produced in India itself. I will tell you some interesting facts about how Padmini actually arrived. The arrival of Padmini has a link with Hindustan Motors.
In terms of history, before Padmini was produced, Fiat had released its 500 model in India and while getting good success, Hindustan motors suddenly unveiled the ambassador to the market and due to this the sales of Fiat’s 500 dropped. To overcome this competition Fiat made an ally with Premier (a new company) and then they both built a new car based on Fiat’s 1100 model in order to reduce the monopoly of Ambassador. That’s how Padmini was born. After Padmini’s arrival, Premier had an instant success (even more successful than Ambassador) as Padmini had sleek, compact, more streamlined look than ambassador. In the Initial day’s people called this car as Fiat, but later on the name has changed and people started calling the car with its own identity “Padmini”.
Although Ambassador and Padmini came into the market as rivals, they have some serious similarities- they launched in similar time, they conquered the market by giving a tough competition to each other, and even they exited at the same time too. Like ambassador the downfall of this car occurred due to the state liberalization act which allowed foreign cars advent to Indian market. At some time, being a fully loaded Indian car, these two cars faced rivalry from a single opponent Maruti Suzuki.
These are some technical specifications of Premier Padmini.
The exteriors of this car was pretty astonishing as it had a shape that was very unique. We can find this type of iconic shapes in some cars only. The most stunning part of this car’s exteriors was its grille design. The black grille design with horizontal and vertical chrome plated fitting at the center with the studded PAL logo looked dramatic.
There are many famous peoples who particularly loved its design. Actor Rajnikanth was one among them. Actually it was one of his first cars which he bought with the remuneration and until now this car is present in his collection. This shows the fact that he was deliberately in love with this car. These are some of the know parts of the Padmini’s exteriors which makes this car look absolute classy.
- Windows with tint glassing
- Black grille with horizontal and vertical chrome finishing
- Standard Tires
- Chrome plated Stream-lining
- Bumpers with rubber coated shock absorbers on front and back.
The interiors were also very classy and offered great luxury at back then. If you look at the first advertisement of Premier Padmini, the car was actually unveiled with a slogan” Symbol of luxury”. If you look at the image of that advertisement, an Italian woman feels very luxurious on seeing the car. This conveys that the car was an absolute luxury kind. After all, it had an Italian hand meld (Fiat) in it, that is well known for the luxurious makeovers and of course no one knows luxury better than the Italians. The interiors of the present cars are like an airplane’s cockpit and are flooded with different buttons for different actions. Unlike the present cars, this car had a neat and clean design and Knobs were used instead of buttons. The car could accommodate 5 people easily, but in fact it had a capacity where 6 people could sit comfortably. Bucket seats, foam leather stitching on seats and as well as steering wheel, Analog speedometer, Flat benches at the back, Safe Locker with locks, Different type of Hood design ranges such as wooden design, foam leather fittings with different colors etc. are some of the luxurious aspects of this car. At the back of the car, it had a total 308-litre of boot space available in order to accommodate luggage.
Engine and Performance:
During the initial days, this car was powered by a Fiat 103 1089cc, Four Cylinder engine and it produced a torque range up to 71 Nm @ 3000 RPM and released a maximum power up to 40 BHP @ 4800 RPM. The top speed of the car was 115mph. After sometime the engine gets a little tweak which decreased the power up to 44 BHP. In late 2000’s when the advent of foreign cars begun, to match this competition premier changed the engine to a more modern, powerful and fuel-efficient variant (S1) from Nissan which had a petrol and diesel variant too. But this step didn’t helped premier from defeat.
Where we can find it now:
This car can now be found high in number in Mumbai as the taxi drivers in Mumbai still use this car. Do you know why they are still using this car? Because the car performance is still the same and it has very less maintenance. Some of those drivers say that “the car is a last-long performer” and it is quite right. But now there is a chance of extinction of this car in Mumbai too, due to new regulations enacted in 2014 by BMMC disallowing the cars which are over 20 year old and all those cars which are present were more than 20 years old. So, this can be the full extinction path of our very own Indian vehicle.
I am sure, we will miss the Indian Automobile Queen for sure. As a true Indian, here I am paying the tribute to “Premier Padmini- The Automobile Queen Of India”.