Founded by William Morris in 1910 and headquartered in Oxford, the first Morris car was a two-seater buggy from 1913. Later, Morris made cars with American engines and gearboxes and, at the end of the First World War, sourced its mechanicals from French car-maker Hotchkiss. Producing reliable cars at bargain prices, Morris became Britain’s number one carmaker by 1925. In 1928, Morris launched the Minor, a very worthy rival to the Austin 7. The Minor sold very well in India too.
Morris acquired the MG sports car brand, the Wolseley and Riley in the 1930s. After WWII, Morris re-introduced the Ten, a small car that it had first launched in 1939. Hindustan Motors began its Morris assembly operations with the Ten, launched in India as the Hindustan 10 in 1949.
Shortly thereafter, in 1950, Hindustan replaced the 10 with the “Baby” Hindustan, which was then recently unveiled as Morris Minor, and complemented that with the slightly bigger Hindustan Fourteen (the Morris Oxford). The Morris Minor retailed for Rs 8,025, then. The Hindustan Fourteen sold for Rs 10,085.
Hindustan Motors also imported and sold the Morris Six — an Oxford with a longer bonnet incorporating a bigger six-cylinder engine — at a pricier Rs 13,325. In comparison, the Studebaker Champions, the Deluxe Sedan and the Regal Deluxe Sedan, both also assembled by HM, retailed for a relatively reasonable Rs 11,910 and Rs 12,210.
In 1954, the Hindustan Fourteen was replaced by the Hindustan Landmaster, which was the Morris Oxford Series II. The Landmaster remained in production till 1957, when it was replaced by the Ambassador. The Ambassador was the Morris Oxford Series III, launched in 1956 in the UK, but it was not introduced in India until 1957. In 1959, when the Oxford Series III was replaced by the all-new Farina-designed Series V, the tooling of the Series III was shipped to India… becoming the Ambassador, which has, since then, been made… and made… until 2014.