It is not yet confirmed whether Peugeot will launch the Contessa, as the trademark for the car is still owned by Hindustan Motors
What if I told you that an iconic muscle car is set to launch in India? Your mind must be hovering around iconic American muscle cars like Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro or Dodge Challenger. What if I told you that it had 4-doors? Now your mind is filtering 2-doors and has finalised around Cadillac CTS-V, Chrysler 300C or Dodge Charger. What if I told you that it was manufactured in India by an Indian company? There’s just Contessa, isn’t it?
Even though Contessa didn’t have a V8 heart beating under the bonnet that is typically associated with muscle cars, it had the looks and stance of a muscle car. Due to this attribute, it soon earned the term, ‘Desi muscle car’. Back in those days, it was pitched as a luxury car in India which was an instant hit.
Contessa was manufactured by Indian company Hindustan Motors based out of West Bengal. Whilst it made Ambassador appeal to the masses, Contessa was a favourite among rich and elites. This soon made it a status symbol in India.
Hindustan Motors Contessa
With the decline of Hindustan Motors, both Ambassador and Contessa were believed to be dead for good. But situation soon turned in company’s favour when Peugeot bought the rights for Ambassador in 2017 for Rs. 80 crores. Ambassador has been approved for revival under the joint venture of Hind Motor Financial Corporation of India (HMFCI), which is a subsidiary of Hindustan Motors and PSA Group (Peugeot S.A. Group, France). The company recently revealed that designs for the engine are close to finalization.
The same powertrain of upcoming Ambassador will make it on Contessa too. HMFCI is very hush regarding fine details of the engine but we can expect it to be a modern engine on par with modern standards. Recent developments also show us that HM has trademarked the name Contessa in India. HM might also launch the Contessa as an EV as it has stepped into EV realm.
Even though Contessa was manufactured in India by Hindustan Motors during 1984 to 2002, it was based on Vauxhall cars. The earlier Contessa was based on Vauxhall Victor FE and the later model was based on Vauxhall VX. It was powered by a measly 1.5L petrol engine making 50 bhp coupled with a 4-speed gearbox.
HM later partnered up with the engine maker, Isuzu and used its 1.8L petrol engine and a 5-speed gearbox and named it Contessa Classic. Then in the 1990s, Contessa got a 2.0L Isuzu 4FC1 and the torquey nature of diesel engines popularized the Contessa further.
Ambassador is likely to launch by the year 2023 or 2024. Contessa launch to follow soon. Both Ambassador and Contessa will see minor design revisions and a complete interior overhaul. HM products were fairly ahead of their time offering a modern monocoque architecture. The main sore points were the trashy interiors and questionable fit and finish.
The company will equip these cars with modern amenities and features that are expected with modern cars from the price bracket. HM should also work on the safety and crashworthiness of the car to make it stick in the Indian market. Price is another factor which can make or break a product in India. If HM gets everything spot on, there’s nothing holding back nostalgic Indian customers and enthusiasts that are willing to pay the price of a modern-classic car.