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Old 27th September 2020, 23:27   #1
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Default Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

On March 23rd, 2020, India declared a total lockdown for 6 weeks. Coming from a mechanical background, I had never worked from home and here I was preparing to work from home for next 6 weeks.

As the days passed, I realized that I had 2 additional hours at my disposal since I was not commuting to office but working from home. By the way, I am from Bangalore.

After reading the article “Acquired Passion” written by funkykar on Team-BHP, my subliminal senses started to reignite my passion for buying and restoring my favorite car - the grand old Ambassador! I started a half-hearted search on OLX and Quikr for an Ambassador - was basically testing the waters. Saw many cars, but none was up to the mark. I started expanding the search beyond Bangalore and found few good Ambassadors in North Karnataka and few in Coorg, but either they were diesel or needed massive restoration.

I was clear on two things - one, to look for a petrol Ambassador with a PS and an AC to make it a practical car to drive to work at least twice / thrice a week. Secondly, to look for a car that is 75% in good condition, requiring minimum restoration efforts, both, in terms of time and money. A week passed by and due to the lockdown, I had nothing much to do apart from office. So, I kept the search alive and expanded it across TN, AP, TS and KL.

While I was browsing on OLX at around 1 am on a Friday, I came across an advertisement which was unbelievable. The reason it sounded unbelievable was that the car listed was defined as below:
a. Petrol Amby (MPFi) with PS and AC.
b. Appeared to be in excellent condition(in photos).
c. Color - Black and not the typical white.
d. Mentioned as single owner.
e. Stock condition (not even a stereo was installed - interior photos).
f. Most unbelievable - a 13-year-old car and the interior was immaculate. Not a single stain or scratch on the dash and seat.
g. Was mentioned as 44,000 Kms (didn’t look like the odometer had completed one complete cycle).

This was exactly the kind of car I was looking for and here it was on OLX. Next move was to contact the owner, but had to wait until the next day as the clock had struck 2am. With great difficulty, I tried sleeping that night with the thought lingering in my mind, “if I really have to buy an Amby, then it’s got to be this particular one”.

Next day, I got up early and was eagerly waiting for the clock to strike 11 am. Assuming it’s the perfect time to talk business during the lockdown, I dialed the number. The gentleman at the other end who answered the call was Mr. Umar. Just when I began to enquire about the car Mr. Umar asked angrily “How can you call me at 1 am? I then realized that while I was trying to save the number, I had dialed it by mistake. I explained the same and apologized to him and being a thorough gentleman, he kind of said OK and we started discussing the car.

I nervously asked if the car posted on OLX was still there and he responded saying that he has posted close to 15 cars as he is a dealer and the minute I said Ambassador, he got aligned and we continued discussing. Mr. Umar was kind enough to give all the required details and also mentioned that it’s a one of a kind car (single owner and low mileage). But he also mentioned that he had already got 2 inquires from Bangalore and two locally. This made me feel that I have the least chance considering the current lockdown and Tirunelveli being 580 Kms away. This was a Herculean task. The only hope was, since it was complete lockdown, no one could get to the car, even if one was on the next street or 580 Kms away. Well, this was on 10th of April.

By now, we were in the core of the lockdown period (two weeks had passed) and I was more determined than the first day to own an Amby. My search continued, I saw many vehicles from Kerala, but all were diesel. I found one car again - a black Amby in impeccable condition with bucket seats Isuzu 2L diesel engine, but understood that this was the third owner. Well, was not very impressed, but kept it as my contingency plan though it was a diesel. However, I was in constant touch with Mr. Umar and one fine day Mr. Umar removed the advertisement and I was devastated.

I immediately called at around 10:30 pm and told him how I felt. I got my breath back when he said, “Sir, I removed the advertisement as you are messaging me twice everyday and others are also calling. Don’t worry, the car is still available." All I could say was, “Thank you and good night Sir”.

Finally, after an extension of two weeks the lockdown was partially lifted. I got a call from Mr. Umar asking me to inspect the car. Well, life is usually not that easy . Though the lockdown was relaxed, interstate movement was totally sealed and I had no clue how to proceed.

I made a call to Umar and explained the situation and out of desperation offered him a token advance so that he could reserve the car, but being a thorough professional he communicated that unless I see the vehicle or at least get the vehicle checked through my source, he would not accept any advance which I really liked and it gave me all the more confidence and assurance about the vehicle and on Umar’s dealership. I checked all my contacts and finally reached out to my colleague who is from Tirunelveli. But since the lockdown had just been relaxed, many mechanics were busy and finally my friend Varun from Coimbatore came to my rescue.

After explaining to him all the details and location of the dealer (he assumed that I was buying a new vehicle), he was puzzled after hearing the car which I was referring to and after two seconds of silence, we spoke again. Finally, Varun requested his colleague in Tirunelveli to visit and look at the car and share the feedback. I was waiting to hear from him and finally was relieved to hear that the car was indeed in very good condition as mentioned by Mr. Umar, except for some minor patches of surface rust (considering Amby’s body quality…a 13 year old Amby without an inch of rust can never be an original Amby ).

I instantly sent a message to Mr. Umar that I confirm the deal and shall discuss the commercial and other details the next day, got an “OK” reply, which was the most reassuring word for the month.

I called the next day and tried to negotiate. My desperation had made sure there was no room left for negotiation, but I still managed to reduce 10k from the quoted price, transferred the amount the same day and got the car delivered to my colleague’s house in Tirunelveli. Thanks to Mr. Audharsun for extending his support to have the car parked at his house. He was kind enough to share pics of all the documents after a long day’s work. After many weeks of anxiety and uncertainty, I finally slept peacefully. This was the 8th of May. Well,what next? How do I get the car to Bangalore? I had no clue.

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For a week, I stopped thinking about the Amby as I had finally purchased my dream car and the only thing in between was the 580 km distance. Days passed, weeks passed and a month passed, but there was no sign of the state border being opened. Bringing the car to Bangalore started to look like a bigger challenge than the challenge faced while buying the same. I started losing patience and approached my childhood friend and neighbour Pavan who worked in the logistics domain and had good industry connections. The plan was to transport the vehicle in a car carrier as that was the only option due to the border being closed for non-commercial vehicles. Well, Pavan made multiple calls to many car carriers including few large-scale logistics firms, but realized that it was not easy, especially since Tirunelveli was not a hub for heavy industries and moreover, many car carriers had suspended operations due to COVID.

I was back to square one, feeling more desperate and helpless. The car was there, but I was not finding a way to bring it from the neighbouring state. That is when I realized the impact COVID had made, especially to those whose livelihoods had been affected. Well, my wait continued and it was June 15th. One month had passed after purchasing the car “virtually”. Mr. Audharsun’ s assurance on the car’s safety gave me a sense of relief and finally, I requested Mr. Audharsun to courier the original documents, so that I could start the process of applying for an NOC and registration transfer.

Finally, by the 3rd week of June, my patience ran out and I dialed Mr. Umar to check if he knew a good driver who could bring the car until the border. I could collect it at the Bangalore – Hosur border as the driver would not be able to enter KA without being quarantined. Mr. Maharajan came to my rescue. He had originally driven the same car from Chennai to Tirunelveli a few months ago. At last, I was seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. The very next day, Mr. Maharajan called to check if it was OK to drive until Hosur and drop the car off. Well, what could I say when the distance in between was getting reduced from 580 to just 40 kms. I said come on, let’s get the baby home.

On June 27th, Mr. Maharajan started his journey to Hosur, but it was already 12 noon and I realized it will be late and I won’t be able to collect the vehicle the same night. As expected, Mr. Maharajan reached Hosur at 12.30 am and I requested my friend Anand to have the car parked for a couple of nights, as the next day was a solar eclipse and I had to wait until Monday morning (as per the advice of my wife). I requested my friend Anand to bring the car to the border at around 6 am on Monday.

Finally, on June 29th, Ashok (my brother) and I started from my home at 5:30 am and reached the state border at 6 am and while I was taking a U–turn, I saw the beast for the first time.

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Anand handed over the car and went back to Hosur, while we completed the formalities and got the car inside KA.

It was an amazing feeling which I can’t pen down. I was really elated to touch and feel the car, which I had spotted on 8th April and purchased on 8th May and was finally in front of my eyes on June 29th - after almost 3 months from the day I spotted this baby.

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I was too excited to drive it home myself so handed it over to Mr. Ashok while I trailed behind in my Duster constantly looking at the black beauty right in front. Finally, after a 40 min drive we reached home and parked it inside. I spent most part of that day staring at the beauty from my window.

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One of the biggest fears which I had almost forgotten until this day was to see my wife's reaction as she was not OK from day one with this idea of buying a 13 year old, out of production car. After seeing the car and joining me for a drive, her reaction was amazingly sweet. She too loved the car as much as I did and this was like icing on the cake.

At last, COVID changed a lot of things for millions of people across the globe and fortunately for me it was something positive. If not for this unfortunate lockdown, I am not sure I would have got this car.

I shall share the post purchase developments in a while. I have planned for a complete service.

1. To replace all fluids (coolant, brake oil, engine oil, differential oil, gearbox oil, oil filter, etc.)
2. Silencer needs some attention, couple of rust holes needs to be filled.
3. Wheel alignment and balancing goes without saying.
4. Check the brakes (cleaning and change of handbrake cable)
5. Change of air filter.

Well the list goes on. I shall share the maintenance updates shortly.

Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-untitled.jpg

---XXX---

Last edited by Aditya : 29th September 2020 at 19:11. Reason: Typos, punctuation, etc
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Old 28th September 2020, 11:38   #2
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Default re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Quote:
Originally Posted by maheshco View Post
揂cquired Passion?/div>
Let me be the 1st to congratulate you on the purchase of your beauty maheshco! She is absolutely pristine and looks even more gorgeous in Black. To me, it seems like the car had been used as an Armed Forces vehicle before coming into your hands, due to the black paint.

Cross-quoting my experience with Ambys from the Ode to the Ambassadors thread!

Quote:
Nostalgia! That's what this thread is all about . Being brought up in Kolkata from 2005 to 2008, Amby's were an integral part of my life. Since we had no car then, trips to the airport, railway stations, Puja pandals, friends, family etc were almost always in an Yellow-Blue Amby. I have this soft memory of an Amby - Windows rolled down, Fresh & Cool air coming and that 1.8L Isuzu engine burbling away. Oh, and the backseat? It was a Sofa, the Amby was always in a segment of it's own and I'm sad to see it go. Till now, whenever I get an opportunity to ride in an Ambassador, I never miss it. It's an experience I'll never forget.
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Old 29th September 2020, 08:35   #3
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Default re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Car looks to be in impeccable condition and an excellent choice. I grew up loving the good old Amby which had such a smooth ride and could fit upto 10 members easily. Hope to own one a day. Keep us updated with your restoration threads .
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Old 29th September 2020, 11:49   #4
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8 ISZ

Congratulations on the Ambassador! The example you picked up looks too good, at least in the pictures. If I ever had an Ambassador, this is just the way I'd like it. Wishlist = fatter tyres (possible), black tints (not possible), removing all the stickers from the boot (easy) and changing the front indicators to white colour. But I would probably retain the steel rims as they are.

How much did you pay for her? I hope to own another Indian classic one day - an Ambassador, Contessa, Padmini or the SS80 (in order of priority). The Ambassador is real bad ass! My choice of engine though would be that creamy 1.8L ISZ Petrol.

Wishing you a happy ownership experience & loads of special memories with your Ambassador. Hope you keep updating this thread with all the drives you go on & new stuff you add to your car.
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Old 29th September 2020, 12:56   #5
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Default re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

First of all, a big congratulations on buying such an awesome car. Amby is an iconic car and I'm glad that people like you actually have an interest in owning such a car.

I'm from Kolkata and have been driven extensively in an Amby. All the cabs in Kolkata were Amby at one point of time and I have to say, till date there is no such Car which can beat the Sofa-like Ride Quality of the Amby.

Just a question. In the title you mentioned Diesel Amby but in the Post you wrote Petrol. So which one is it?
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Old 29th September 2020, 13:05   #6
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8 ISZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
My choice of engine though would be that creamy 1.8L ISZ Petrol.
This specific example does sport a sticker which says it is with that exact engine.
A superp pick. Looks beautiful as is.
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Old 29th September 2020, 23:25   #7
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Quote:
Originally Posted by maheshco View Post
I was too excited to drive it home myself so handed it over to Mr. Ashok while I trailed behind in my Duster constantly looking at the black beauty right in front. Finally, after a 40 min drive we reached home and parked it inside. I spent most part of that day staring at the beauty from my window.
Congratulations upon becoming the owner of a lovely black beauty. I read your very detailed writeup starting from the searches and the final zeroing in on your choice.

Wishing you happy driving. Despite hordes of newer cars entering the fray and disappearing too soon, you will find that your timeless beauty will be very much loved and sought after, even decades later.

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 29th September 2020 at 23:29.
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Old 30th September 2020, 00:04   #8
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Congrats on the car. It looks immaculate! Pretty much every Ambassador you see on the road is white (unless you like in Kolkata). It is rare to see a black one like this. Waiting to see what updates come on this thread in the future.
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Old 30th September 2020, 00:47   #9
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8 ISZ

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Congratulations on the Ambassador! The example you picked up looks too good, at least in the pictures. If I ever had an Ambassador, this is just the way I'd like it. Wishlist = fatter tyres (possible), black tints (not possible), removing all the stickers from the boot (easy) and changing the front indicators to white colour. But I would probably retain the steel rims as they are.
Something of this sort?
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Old 30th September 2020, 10:28   #10
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Congrats on your Ambassador, what an amazing purchase story. Loved reading it. How much did you pay for it? Your Amby looks in immaculate condition, and you are lucky to find such a car during this period where most of them are either rusted or ended up in junk yard. Get the under body anti rust coating done as Amby is very notorious for rusting. Looking forward for more updates and upgrades on your Amby.
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Old 30th September 2020, 10:35   #11
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Thanks for sharing! It'd be great if you could share a few pics of the interior. For spares you can contact the dealers in Kolkata if you don't find anything locally. Many taxis are still plying in Kolkata and almost all spares are available.
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Old 30th September 2020, 11:27   #12
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Lovely car, Mahesh.

In its time the 1.8 Isuzu in an Amby was a great combo, but with not - so - great brakes.

However, having cars which keep one busy with minor inexpensive niggles keep the interest alive , like how I felt when I used to fiddle with our 1959 Super 10 and 1971 Ambassador that my Dad owned.

The black has huge mod potential, and I wish you many happy miles with the car.

A few more cents here :


Quote:
Originally Posted by maheshco View Post
But he also mentioned that he had already got 2 inquires from Bangalore and two locally.

I found one car again - a black Amby in impeccable condition with bucket seats Isuzu 2L diesel engine, but understood that this was the third owner.
The first sentence is a common bait that all dealers and most owners use.

For an Amby and, say, a Qualis, number of owners is immaterial. What matters is the way the car has been kept.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maheshco View Post
I immediately called at around 10:30 pm and told him how I felt.

“Sir, I removed the advertisement as you are messaging me twice everyday and others are also calling. Don’t worry, the car is still available."

out of desperation offered him a token advance so that he could reserve the car
This was pure desperation. Please never ever express this to any seller again.

Umar realised you were a genuine guy, plus he realised that he needn't haggle over the car with window shoppers.
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Old 30th September 2020, 12:11   #13
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Congratulations on acquiring a beautiful Ambassador. Do share frequent updates of the car.

I was also looking for a 1800 ISZ Carburetor version and instead got home this one family owned 1960 Mark1 which was also on Olx for sale.

Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-20200830_134457.jpg

Last edited by arun1100 : 30th September 2020 at 12:13.
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Old 30th September 2020, 12:38   #14
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Welcome to the TeamBHP Amby family. Now that you've started the ownership thread, please keep updating it. Finding cosmetic parts for period specific restoration is going to be cumbersome!

My 1979 Mark 4
Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-psx_20200901_142212.jpg

The Mark 4 park lights I recently procured
Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-img_20200917_112307.jpg

Still on the lookout for Mark 4 front indicators - rectangle ones which go below the bumper and original monograms!
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Old 30th September 2020, 13:02   #15
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Default Re: Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi

Very clean vehicle you got there- Congratulations.
My advice is to keep it as stock as possible although black window tints will make it look sinister
Check this one out from the Ikaho Toy, Doll & Car Museum, Japan
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Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-axcr2019_ikahomuseum_hindustan_129_2019081020190812201108.jpg  

Delving a classic : I bought a 13-year old HM Ambassador 1.8L Petrol MPFi-axcr2019_ikahomuseum_hindustan_130_2019081020190812201109.jpg  

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