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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Importer plans soft top Indian car
Hindustan Ambassador
The Indian Government has a fleet of several thousand Ambys
A businessman is aiming to refine a classic Indian car in west Wales.

For the last two years David Darrell has been the official European dealer of the Hindustan Ambassador.

Now he wants to start manufacturing a soft top sports version of the car which has sold nearly four million since it first went into production in 1958.

Assembly Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies has described the project as "exciting".

Mr Darrell has teamed-up with Swansea Institute and Hindustan Motors with the aim of making the Ambassador, or 'Amby', in Carmarthenshire.
It's got a little dated but it's got power steering, the engine is very clean, it's very reliable and it's still a very good car
David Darrell

The Ambassador is based on the 1948 Morris Oxford.

Mr Darrell said although the gear box and engine have been updated, little else has changed since the first rolled off the production line.

The Ambassador is still a common sight on the streets of many Indian cities, although less so in recent years.

Its big selling point is that it is renowned for its reliability and ease for which it is repaired.

The Indian Government has a fleet of several thousand white Ambassadors and is one of its biggest buyers.

Mr Darrell's company, Merlin Garages, of Llanwrda, near Carmarthen, first started importing them to the UK two years ago.

"They appeal to anyone who wants a car that's something a little different," he said.

Jobs

"It's pretty much the same now as it was when they started making them.

"It's got a little dated but it's got power steering, the engine is very clean, it's very reliable and it's still a very good car."

He said he plans on making a soft top version in the UK but a hard top version of the new design would be made in India, because of the demand for air conditioning there.

Mr Darrell has been working with the Welsh Assembly Government's overseas arm, Wales Trade International (WTI), to take the project forward.

The number of jobs created would very much depend on demand for the car but he said he was committed to basing production in Wales.

Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said the project was "another example of the increasing importance, prominence and diversity of the automotive sector in Wales."

Rob Lock, WTI vice president of international trade, said: "David Darrell and his colleagues have embarked on a very exiting project which could become a world first for the Welsh automotive sector.

"His business relationships with Hindustan Motors are now very strong and WTI is delighted to have been able to help David develop his trade links in India."


SEE ALSO:
Bid to revive India's top car
19 Aug 03  |  South Asia
India's Ambassador gets a facelift
17 Jan 02  |  South Asia
Car producers target India
12 Jan 00  |  South Asia


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