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|Also called||Fiat 1100 Delight
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door saloon|
|Engine||1,089 cc Fiat 103 I4|
|Wheelbase||2,340 mm (92 in)|
|Length||3,905–3,940 mm (153.7–155.1 in)|
|Width||1,460 mm (57 in)|
|Height||1,470 mm (58 in)|
Premier Padmini is an automobile that was manufactured in India from 1964 to 2000 by Premier Automobiles Limited, a division of the Walchand Group, under license from Fiat and marketed initially as the Fiat 1100 Delight — and beginning in 1973 as the Premier Padmini. The Padmini's primary competitor in the Indian market was the Hindustan Ambassador.
Known colloquially as the Pad, the Padmini is named for a 14th-century Rajput princess. Padmini translates to "she who sits on the lotus" and refers to the Goddess Lakshmi. It is also a common name for girls in India.
The Fiat 1100D, based on the Fiat 1200 GranLuce Berlina, debuted in India in 1964 with a carburetted 1,089 cc four-cylinder engine — rather than the 1,221 cc engine fitted to the GranLuce in Italy. With a 7.8:1 compression ratio, it created 40 bhp (30 kW) at 4,800 rpm with a maximum torque of 7.20 kg·m (71 N·m; 52 lb·ft) at 3,000 rpm. The original transmission was a four-speed manual gearbox (without synchronized first gear), which drove the rear wheels via a live rear axle. It had a column-mounted shifter, on the left-hand side of the steering column. Weighing 895 kg (1,973 lb) the car could attain a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph).
Premier manufactured the Padmini at their Kurla plant in Bombay (now Mumbai) until they sold a majority stake to Fiat SpA in September 1997. The licensed vehicle was initially manufactured as the Fiat 1100 Delight. For model year 1973, the car was marketed as the Premier President and subsequently as the Premier Padmini. The car, in its peak during the 1970s-1980s, achieved immense popularity among youngsters, celebrities and women as compared to the Hindustan Ambassador, it looked more modern in appearance, more fuel-efficient and was very easy to drive.
By the early-eighties, a more powerful version which offered 44 bhp (33 kW) at 5,000 rpm was also available. Claimed top speed increased to 119 km/h (74 mph). During the same time, Premier began to offer an air-conditioning system, which was a luxury in Indian cars at the time, in the Padmini. The Padmini was only available with petrol engines until 1996, when they introduced a diesel variant.
From the mid 1980s onward, with the advent of more modern, cheaper and more fuel-efficient cars from Maruti Suzuki, the popularity of the Padmini slowly began to wane. The liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, which allowed foreign car manufacturers to launch operations in India, began to sound the death knell for the Padmini. The Padmini was never able to compete with the more modern, value-for-money and fuel-efficient cars manufactured by Ford, General Motors, Daewoo, Honda and Hyundai. In 1996, Premier tried to revive the sagging fortunes of the Padmini by introducing bucket seats, a four-shift gearbox, a more modern and fuel-efficient variant (S1) which had a Nissan petrol engine and even a diesel variant (137D) whose engine was again from Nissan in an attempt to match the competition. None of these measures were successful and the car's production finally ended in November 2000. At the time production ended, only the 137D was being manufactured.
Numerous examples still abound as taxicabs in Mumbai. Many of these taxis now run on CNG for fuel economy. While all cars built by Premier themselves were four-door sedans, small companies also offered other bodywork, mainly in the form of estates. The Fiat 1100-D's original design remained unchanged, aside from some minor grill facelifts in the eighties and the removal of the front-door vent windows at some point in the early nineties.
|Premier Padmini Gallery|
- Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (5 March 1987,). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German/French) 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. p. 480. ISBN 3-444-00458-3.
- "Shedding Door Pulls, Mumbai Taxis Rattle Into History". The New York Times, DAVID SHAFTEL, December 28, 2012.
- "History of Premier Automobiles". Car History 4 U. Form and Function.