Maruti 800 all set to become history by end April, 2012

"And it is my desire that this motor car will serve the ordinary people of India and they will have no complaint about it. I hope it will contribute in every aspect of the nation building", said the late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi at the launch of Maruti 800 on December 14, 1983. The launch of the car marked the fulfillment of her late son's dream of a "people's car" for India. Suzuki came into the picture after Maruti's earlier attempts of forging a partnership with Volkswagen and Daihatsu for making an affordable car for the Indian masses failed. Looking back at it, we are pretty sure Volkswagen and Toyota (parent of Daihatsu) would be regretting that decision now. That is because the production run of the car that was born as a result of that partnership, the 800, is going to come to an end by the end of this month.

Yes, April 2012 will go on record as the car that revolutionized the Indian automotive industry finally retires after a 29-year long production run. In an industry where a 5 year old product is seen as outdated, that's quite an achievement. When it was launched, the only other cars in India were the Hindustan Ambassador and Premier Padmini, that were not only expensive and long in the tooth but also came with huge waiting lists. The 800 came and massacred those two relegating them to history slowly but steadily. We strongly believe that the ascent of the Maruti 800 sort of fueled the descent of the Ambassador and Padmini. Since the very first year of its launch, Maruti 800 has been the best selling car in India, a title that it held until 2004 when its own sibling, the Alto took over the top spot after Maruti slashed prices massively.

With over 2.7 million families having spent their hard-earned money to own one, we know that it is going to be one emotional farewell to the 800 from each one of them. For its price, the 800 was as complete a car as it can get. Compared to the competition, it was quick, luxurious, contemporary, nimble, reliable and the best of all cheap. It is those qualities that has endeared the 800 to its owners till date. Most of the men and women who grew up in 80's and 90's would have, by default, learnt driving in this car. Stop someone by the roadside and they will definitely have a story to share with the iconic 800. It really was the car that put India on wheels and something that we can call our own like what Fiat 500 is to Italy and Volkswagen Beetle is to Germany. The 800 is a legend, for sure!

As a tribute to the iconic little car, we drove a 1984 Maruti 800 earlier this year, one of the initial lot that came with imported components. And we have to admit that it was massive fun piloting the car around. Read about that drive experience here. And, last but not the least, just like thousands of fellow Indians out there, I also learnt driving in a Maruti 800, the one in the picture to the right.  I can't really wind this post up without saying that, can I?

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