Standard (Indian automobile)
|Headquarters||Tambaram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India|
The Standard is an Indian brand of automobile which was produced by Standard Motor Products in Madras from 1949 to 1988. Indian Standards were variations of vehicles made in the U.K. by Standard-Triumph. Standard Motor Products of India Ltd. (SMPI) was incorporated in 1948, and their first product was the Vanguard, which began to be assembled in 1949. The company was dissolved in 2006 and the old plant torn down.
From 1955, versions of the Standard Eight and Ten were produced, with ever increasing local content. The Pennant joined in 1959, although it too was curiously branded "Standard 10" and devoid of bootlid trimwork. The Tens and later Heralds and Gazels all used versions of the 948 cc Standard-Triumph four-cylinder engine. In 1961 production began of the Triumph Herald, known as the Standard Herald in India.
Standard also built a range of light commercial vehicles based on the Standard Atlas/20 (later Leyland 20), called the Standard Twenty. For these, production of diesel engines began in India, later exported back to the UK for use in the refurbished Carbodies FX4Q London cabs. In spite of a production lineup incorporating passenger cars as well as light commercials, production was always low. In the fiscal year 1974/75, for instance, only 1,393 units were built.
Badged in the Indian market as the Standard Herald, the Herald was originally heavily dependent on British parts, but as these were gradually replaced by indigenous items specifications and trim as local content increased. By 1965 engines, gearboxes, and axles were all made in India. In 1966 the Standard Herald Mark II was introduced, which featured the bonnet and front end of the Vitesse, but strangely with the outer pair of headlights blocked off and the parking lights cum side-indicators incorporated there instead. In anticipation of the Mark III, very late Mk IIs featured modified rear bodywork (different roofline and a bootlid without a recess).
The new Standard Herald Mark III, made from 1968 to 1971, received a unique indigenously developed four-door body, to meet the demands of Indian buyers (with large families) and competition from the Ambassador and Fiat 1100 (both of which featured four doors). The engine remained the same though, with a claimed top speed of 109–112 km/h (68–70 mph). In 1969-1970 a very few Herald Mark III Companions were built, five-door estates with fibreglass roofs and tailgates.
In 1971 the Herald was remodelled (redesigned body, new suspension new differential) by Nasir Hussein as the Standard Gazel, with a different grille and headlights set far apart, purportedly inspired from the Triumph Herald 13/60. It received a new, more sober rear end with low horizontal rectangular tail-lights and without the characteristic tailfins of the Herald designed by Michelotti. It also received a live rear-axle suspended on two leaf springs copied from the Triumph Toledo instead of the Herald's swing-axle independent suspension, replacement of the Herald's front bucket seats with a bench, and underwent the retrograde move of replacing the shifter with a long-crank version (as found in the Standard Ten). However, the engine was the same 948 cc single carb.
The new Gazel continued in production in this guise until 1974, when a modified version took over. The updated model (Mark II) received a 'standard' bonnet, hinged at the rear, instead of the forward lifting front end inherited from the Herald. This move was most likely because the normal Herald bonnets popping open on either or both sides during running was a common occurrence, especially on Indian roads! This however, resulted in making the body heavier due to the additional reinforcement needed on the front panel due to the bonnet modification. The Gazel was also built in small numbers with estate bodywork, the estate featuring a fibreglass tail-gate but with the saloon rear windscreen. Production of the Gazel ended in 1978, and it was nearly a decade until Standard (Madras) went into car production again, which would be with the Standard 2000, a hand-me-down Rover SD1 with a local engine transplant.
From 1985 to 1988 the company manufactured the Standard 2000, a version of the Rover SD1 powered by a 2 L (1,991 cc) four-cylinder engine borrowed from an old Standard Vanguard model (as also used in the Standard 20 commercial vehicle). Power was a mere 83 hp (62 kW) at 4,250 rpm. With 1,335 kg (2,940 lb) to drag around and a four-speed manual transmission (it too from the Standard 20), top speed was a lowly 145 km/h (90 mph). The 2000 featured higher ground clearance for the Indian market; but low quality, high price, and low performance combined to end the car after only about three years. Hopes had been high, with the Ministry of Industry claiming that the 2000 would be successful enough that the black market price of imported luxury cars would go down.
To top it all, a supposedly false claim about the fuel average of the car attributed to the company from the then Government caused an inquiry and resulted in the company getting into long-winding legal tangles, eventually leading to the factory being shut down for many years until the property was auctioned off and thereafter completely torn down.
- Bhaktavatsala Rao, C. (1993-02-20). "Structural Configurations and Strategic Investments: Indian Automobile Industry". Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai, India: Sameeksha Trust) 28 (8/9): M22.
- Adams, Keith. "Standard Motor Products". AROnline. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- Bhote, Karl (2005). "History of Standards in India". Standard Motor Club. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- Bhote, Karl (2005). "Standard Herald Mk 3". Standard Motor Club. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- The Standard Mark III (brochure), Chennai (Madras): Standard Motor Products of India Ltd, retrieved 2010-12-15
- Adams, Keith. "Standard 2000". AROnline. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- "Automobile Industry: Unconvincing Explanations". Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai, India: Sameeksha Trust) XX (16): 669. 1985-04-20.
- David Burgess Wise, The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Automobiles.