The iconic Indian automotive brand of Hindustan Motors Ltd that is owned by the CK Birla Group recently made a massive announcement regarding its premium sedan brand Contessa. The company said that it has reached an agreement with SG Corporate Mobility Pvt Ltd to sell its “Contessa” brand for an undisclosed amount. It is believed that Contessa, which was a 1980s-era luxury automobile popular in India, will be re-released by SG Corporate Mobility Pvt Ltd in the coming future period.
Hindustan Motors, in a regulatory filing, revealed that it has signed a brand transfer agreement with SG Corporate Mobility Pvt Ltd for the transfer of the Contessa brand, comprising the trademarks with application numbers and some related rights of the brand. Upon fulfilment of the terms and conditions outlined in the agreement, the transfer of the trademark will become effective, it was stated.
From 1984 through 2002, the Hindustan Motors Contessa, which was positioned above the highly popular HM car Ambassador was sold in India. It was based on the 1976 to 1978 Vauxhall VX Series, which was a development of the earlier Vauxhall Victor FE. It was one of the few luxury vehicles made in India at the time of its introduction in 1983. The short-lived Standard 2000, which was based on the Rover SD1, and the Premier 118 NE, which was based on the Fiat 124, were two of its few domestic rivals. Government officials frequently opted for the Contessa.
But following the introduction of more advanced vehicles from GM, Ford, Fiat, Tata, and other manufacturers, interest in the Contessa started to decline. Maruti Suzuki had dominated the market, but fierce rivalry among the new car companies in the late 1990s led to the introduction of contemporary, fuel-efficient vehicles to the Indian market. The more expensive fuel also put an end to the thirsty Contessa, and the model was phased out in 2002. There were three variants of this vehicle at the time of its last production: the 1.8 GLX (Isuzu gasoline), 2.0 DLX (Isuzu diesel), and 2.0 TD (Isuzu turbo diesel).
Hindustan Motors also signed a contract with Peugeot SA which is now a part of the Stellantis Group in February 2017 for the sale of the Ambassador brand, together with the associated trademarks, for a sum of Rs 80 crore. Two joint venture agreements were involved in the collaboration between the two groups’ companies.
Although a few weeks ago, Hindustan Motors, which currently works with Mitsubishi revealed a plan to bring back the Ambassador. In an interview with TOI, the Director of Hindustan Motors, Uttam Bose said “Mechanical and design work for a new engine has reached an advanced stage”. It suggests that the new Ambassador will be powered by a petrol or a diesel engine initially. He also added that a new look Ambassador is on its way. However, he did not talk anything about the Contessa which was hint that the fate of this iconic sedan was about to change.