Ambassadors & Royal Enfields

With preps and fundraising for our UNICEF India Adventure well underway, this weekend I’ve been reading up about the cars and bikes we’ll be using on our epic 1,000-km roadtrip. As both a car and bike enthusiast, one of the key drawcards of this particular adventure was the chance to be part of a rally of classic motorbikes and motor cars – and by all accounts, the Enfields and Ambassadors are as classic as they come.

Cruising India astride a Royal Enfield Bullet

Some of the team, including Charley and Marc, will be riding 350cc Royal Enfield Bullets. Originally launched in the UK in 1949, the Bullet came to be used by the Indian government from 1955 as a bike for its police and army to patrol its country’s rugged border areas. Now based in Chennai, Royal Enfield is the oldest motorbike brand in the world still in production. The Bullet’s excellent pedigree bodes well for some of the more challenging parts of our route across Southern India – and for Charley, it will certainly be a very different kind of ride from his more customary 1200 Beemer GS!

The trusty Ambassador on the road in India

The rest of the team will be driving 1950s-style Hindustan Ambassadors. Originally based on the British Morris Oxford III model (1948), the “Ambi” (as it’s fondly known) is now considered a quintessentially Indian car, dubbed “the king of Indian roads”. Although they look quite sturdy, their engines are only apparently capable of 37 horsepower and their handling is generally thought to be “temperamental” at best – so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in some of the mountainous and unpredictable terrain we’ll encounter in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
                                                                                                          Reading up about these brilliant cars and bikes, I can’t wait to be on the road in India to see how these classic vehicles – not to mention their riders/drivers – hold up! It seems pretty inevitable that we’re going to have some challenges along the way, given the ever-changing terrain and the unique handling styles needed for these cars and bikes – but hey, that’s all part of the adventure!

4 thoughts on “Ambassadors & Royal Enfields

  1. Tony Walters

    Hey Jeanie, myself and a friend are joining you in November, we signed up a few weeks ago and are now well into our fund raising efforts! I’m driving an Ambi and he’s on a bullet. Are you riding, driving or passenger’ing’ ?

    1. Jeanie Davison Post author

      Hi Tony,

      Great to hear from you. Hope your fundraising is going really well and you’re starting to get excited about India!

      I originally signed up to drive an Ambi as I thought it would be easier with the filming I’ll be doing. But as a motorcyclist, I can’t resist the idea of riding an Enfield – so I’ll almost certainly end up biking it!

      Good luck with the fundraising – UNICEF’s such a great cause, eh?


    1. Jeanie Davison Post author

      Ha, it’s a difficult choice, eh? Both are absolute classics and a challenge to ride/drive – I recently heard someone in the know say that the Ambassador “drives like a badger”; and on the Enfields the gears and footbrake are on the opposite sides to most motorbikes!

      Throw in the unpredictable terrain and it’s going to be a very interesting journey, that’s for sure… 🙂



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