What Was India’s First Production Car?

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Cars have been part and parcel of Indian life for over six decades now, and it's hard to imagine a time without the bumper to bumper chaos of modern day traffic. But there was a time when cars were few and roads were free, with owners of cars in the country in those days going down in history as Indian motoring pioneers, like Jamsetji Tata, the first Indian to own a car.

But have you wondered what the first car ever made in India was?

Nope, not the Landmaster, nor the Premier Padmini! The automobile that holds this important place in India's motoring history is actually the Hindustan 10, which was a rebadged Morris 10 Series M from Britain that was assembled by Hindustan Motors Limited in a small facility in Port Okha, Gujarat, beginning in 1949.

The Hindustan 10 featured a 1.3-litre, overhead-valve engine that produced 37 bhp at 4600 rpm, which was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. This very engine was also used by the MG TC, albeit in a higher state of tune.

But it was an impressive powerplant nonetheless, as it could propel the car to a factory-claimed 100 km/h top speed, though getting there took well over a minute! Retarding momentum, too, would have been a new challenge every time, that's for sure...

Photo credit: Sicnag/Wiki Commons

India's first car featured a chassis with unitary construction, with solid front and rear axles supported by leaf spring suspension all round, with kerb weight rated at 934 kgs. In the UK, it joined the famous ‘tillies' group of vehicles when it was offered in pickup body style, joining several British manufacturers with similar load-carrying versions of their products.

So there you have it. While India can't boast of a terribly glamorous first production car, the Hindustan 10 has gone down in the history books as the vehicle that set the ball rolling for the Indian auto industry's exponential expansion since.

Photo credit: mancbranch/Wiki Commons

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Story first published: Friday, May 22, 2015, 10:06 [IST]
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