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 (1,970 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-1980’s, 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.
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