The Hindustan Contessa (a development of the Vauxhall VX) was a highly aspirational vehicle of its time when it launched in India in the mid-80s. Hindustan Motors did not take the lead to design successors to the Ambassador or the Contessa and by the time they realized that new products alone could keep them in the race in the midst of a rush of global car companies in India, the company went out of business in 2014. The initiative to redo their product lines came, but it was too late by then as the company had run out of cash and there was hardly any demand for a HM product. In the final years, Hindustan Motors was working with a Pune-based design firm for a shortened version of the Ambassador (to compete with the Maruti Dzire and the Tata Indigo CS) and even crowdsourced ideas to reinvent the Ambassador through social media that drew the interest of millions of Indian.
The PSA Group which will launch in India next year has acquired the Ambassador brand and it is reported that it could be brought back by the company as an electric vehicle later this decade. Another brand that PSA would be recommended to consider is the Contessa, and if it is revived the way Mightyseed has imagined it, it could be history repeating itself after 40 years.
The Contessa Electric Vehicle by the Coimbatore-based design firm Mightyseed has a very futuristic look with a coupe body shape and a squat stance enhanced by the increased width. Being an EV, cabin space has been a major influence in the design of the car. Mightyseed has stated that the concept’s DNA is elegance with simplicity and they have designed the Contessa EV as an invitation to Hindustan Motors to re-enter the Indian market as a car company.
At the front, the Contessa Electric gets a rectangular grille with sleek LED headlamps and a redone HM logo sitting in the middle. The side of the electric car concept looks more aerodynamic with sloping roofline, large alloy wheels and sleek rear view cameras in place of mirrors. The full-width LED light bar is the current trend and the Contessa EV also has a LED strip running across with Contessa badge below.
Companies giving the classic vehicles or brands an electric twist are not new, as you’ve seen with the Morris Commercial JE van, the Fiat 500e, Cagiva and the Lambretta. Boutique car builders are also playing their part – Dilip Chhabria has announced the e Amby which is inspired by the Ambassador. But unlike the Contessa EV, which is just a rendering, the e Amby will go into production. The e Amby will have a performance-oriented battery pack and electric motors that would make the car go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4 seconds. Interior cabin space is claimed to be as much as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class at half the price of one. Mr Dilip Chhabria has confirmed that the e Amby will be launched in late 2021.