13 Unforgettable Indian Vehicles That Defined Our Lives And Shaped The Automobile Industry

We love cars and bikes and they are an essential part of our lives. So much so that our lives revolve around them. We share countless memorable moments with our vehicles. They are even responsible for some celebrities getting into the NGO business, if you know who I mean.

But there are some vehicles which are unforgettable for us. They defined, and sometimes redefined, the Indian vehicle market as they became major landmarks in history. This is a list of those unforgettable vehicles in the Indian market that are milestones of memory by themselves.

1. Royal Enfield.

Remember this?


Royal Enfield

The daddy of bikes. Facebook

In 1954, the Indian government ordered 800 rugged motorcycles for use by security personnel on the border with Pakistan. The chosen bike was Royal Enfield Bullet 350 and the rest is history. A bike moves your body, but the Royal Enfield stirs your soul. It is a timeless machine and you have to experience the unhurried ride that the bike gives. It has the torque to race which will make you go la la. The oldest motorcycle brand in the world still in production for a reason.

2. Maruti 800.

Enough said.


The middle class ride.

Even the great Sachin Tendulkar is a huge fanboy of this beauty. Sadly not in production anymore, this car changed the Indian car market for ever. Suddenly, the middle class had car aspirations.

3. Maruti Omni.


Maruti Suzuki Omni


This van has been seen in countless Bollywood films during the 80s and 90s used by the villain’s gang for one or the other obvious reason.

This van also served big Indian middle-class families for more than two decades on picnics, during marriages and also for shifting houses.

4. Premier Padmini.


There was a time when this car was considered a prized possession, not just another taxi on the road. The behind the wheel gear shift and a classy look means that this car is still seen on roads and in Bollywood explosions.

5. Bajaj Chetak.

This vehicle represented Indian middle-class many ways.


A husband riding this scooter with his wife sitting behind him and with two kids adjusted wherever space was found, is a timeless image in our minds. Once upon a time, a dowry demand, in 2009, Bajaj decided to stop manufacturing this scooter. But Indians being Indians, you see this one on the road far too often for an out of production scooter.

6. Hindustan Ambassador.

The Babu’s car.


The Indian car market most relates to is the Ambassador car. Based on the iconic Morris Oxford, the Ambassador created waves in the Indian market by serving the Indian public at every walk of life.

From diplomat’s transportation to the cab service, the spacious, strong, masculine Ambassador sure remains the most impressive image of a car of the country. In 2014, Hindustan Motors stopped manufacturing this one. What they don’t understand is, a politician getting out of any other car just doesn’t cut it.

7. Hero Honda Splendor.

This bike truly is bike for all seasons.


Whether you want to bring newspaper for your dad or adha liter doodh for your mom this bike will make your life easy because we all know this beauty is insanely handy. The Splendor made sure that the middle class got access to good features in a bike at an affordable rate. Not top class features, but features like good shock absorption, a slightly modern design, etc.

And do I need to talk about mileage?

8. Yamaha RX 100.

This little dynamo gave maximum riding thrill. The two stroke machine still holds an iconic position and you see it zooming around the road quite often.


Well known robbery bikes of 90’s and the oldest vehicle manufactured by Yamaha, this bike made a mosquito buzz earning it some unflattering sobriquets. Nonetheless, this tiny monster still manages to beat modern bikes in the 0-50 kmph race.

9. Hero Honda CBZ


Before the Pulsar really opened up the Indian Bike market, the Hero Honda CBZ had already set hearts racing and wanting more. It brought along with itself, a frenzy that had college students and office commuters enthralled. In a way, it created the platform that allowed the Pulsar to launch itself and open the market for Honda and Yamaha.

10. Kinetic Honda DX.


While the Bajaj Chetak was for the family with kids, the Kinetic Honda Bike was for couples and college goers. Manly, convenient, tall and relatively maintenance free, this bike proved that Indians were hungry for the gearless variety of bikes. Popularly known as Kinetic, this precursor to Activa made sure a lot of us learned how to ride a motorbike!

11. TVS Scooty.


The market for women commuters was hugely untapped. The TVS Scooty should be mentioned in the annals of Indian history as the one bike that made commuting for women easier. College, work, picking up kids from school, shopping, whatever the woman needed, she no longer had to depend on anyone else. Even today, the Scooty and other scooterettes continue to be marketed to women and in fact, created for women with its lighter weights, lower stance and a maintenance free nature.

12. Matador Van.


There were many uses of this versatile vehicle, but the one it was most used for was training school kids for the Mumbai locals. As many as 50 kids to one Matador for ferrying from home to school and back meant that all of us, at some point, have sat in the Matador but very few people have owned it.

13. Tata Sumo.

What Indian vehicle list would be complete without the Sumo?


The first option since the Omni for families, picnics and nauseating/dehydrating Indian summer vacation road trips that have scarred many a young child, the Tata Sumo quickly established itself as a comfortable MUV for packing in as many people as you liked, so long as the smaller people sat in the back.


So that is it! The definitive list of vehicles that have defined our school days, marriages, family photos and a lot of vacations with cousins! Which vehicles do you think we missed that you think were absolutely essential in this list? Which of these have you used?


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