This beautifully restored Hindustan Contessa made us hark back to one of the fastest cars of its time from the 1990s and what is rightly regarded as the muscle car of India.
When we speak of Hindustan Motors, it is the Ambassador that pops up on your mind immediately. But there was another car which was perhaps not as popular as the Ambassador but is equally an icon in the Indian Automotive scene of the 80s and 90s. We are talking about the Hindustan Contessa, a truly modern car of its time and one that defined luxury in that era. The Contessa was produced in India between 1984 and 2002 and it was originally based on the Vauxhall Victor. It was also the fastest car of its time in India until the Maruti Suzuki 1000 and Esteem were introduced.
After making Ambassador for years, Hindustan Motors wanted to offer something more premium and thus the Contessa was brought to India. Back in the day, it had features such as air conditioning, power windows and even power steering. Later iteration of the Contessa were powered by a 1.8-liter petrol engine from Isuzu. In its time, the Contessa rivaled the likes of the Standard 2000 and the Premier 118 NE but it was much ahead of both of them and it is rightly regarded as classic muscle car of India.
Although the Contessa was highly regarded for its great ride quality and very spacious interiors, it had not always been been known for its performance. You see, before HM turned towards the Isuzu motor for its later iterations, the early Contessas were powered by a 1.5L BMC engine that produced a mere 50hp. However, the Contessa was a whole new revelation after it gained the Isuzu heart which produced 88hp. With a top-speed of 160 kph, it sure was fast considering the time it belonged to. The 1.8L four-cylinder Isuzu engine was water cooled and even had fuel injection.
This example of the Contessa pictured above has been restored by to its former glory by KRAFT Design. The car features no exterior modifications but just a redone paint job in a beautiful dark blue shade. The original chrome parts of the Contessa has also been restored including the front and rear bumpers, the grille, the headlamp surrounds and also the window lining. Earlier iteration of the Contessa came with single squarish headlamp units but when the later models got the dual, round headlamps, it gave the car its real muscle car feel.
We have no interior images of this Contessa to see if there were any modifications to the cabin. However, considering the minimalism on the exterior, we can hope that the interiors have been kept period correct as well. Rounding of the looks for this Contessa are its vintage wheels with broad tires and they look period correct too. Wheels are one area where most resto-mods go wrong when restoring such classic icons. This Hindustan Contessa evokes a deep sense of nostalgia in us about cars from much simpler times.