It’s been 35 years since the first Maruti Suzuki 800 was launched in the country on 14 December 1983. The 800 might be the first car driven by most of us and also the one that lay a strong foundation for the country’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki. The SS80 (codename for the first model) also enlightened the country with the reliable and efficient Japanese engineering.
Here below are top 10 highlights you need to know about the Maruti Suzuki 800 –
1. Suzuki was not even on the consideration list for the carmaker while shortlisting a partner with Maruti Udyog Limited. It was only after a senior director at Suzuki happened to read an article on an imminent Daihatsu-Maruti tie-up while aboard a domestic flight in the country.
2. The first generation Maruti 800, the SS80 retailed for around Rs 50,000. Based on the lottery system in the initial days, potential customers were willing to shell out a lakh or even more for the car owned by lucky owners. The keys to the first car was handed over to Harpal Singh by the ex-prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
3. The 800 was the first model to get a front wheel drive setup in India. Moreover, the 800 was also the first model to get a molded dashboard in the country.
4. The 800 was the bestselling model in the country until its newer replacement, the Alto surpassed the 29 lakh unit sales mark in October 2015.
5. Maruti Suzuki 800 was exported to a number of countries in South Asia including Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka and was also available in Morocco and selected European markets. About 2.87 million 800’s were produced during its course of which 2.66 million were sold in India.
6. In just two years after Maruti Udyog Limited started making cars, the passenger car segment more than doubled in volume and grew from about 40,000 units to over 1 lakh cars a year.
7. Maruti Udyog Limited had created history by going from design to rolling out cars from a production line in just about 13 months.
8. By 1997, backed by the popularity of the 800, eight out of 10 cars sold in India were of Marutis.
9. Back in the early days, the 800 was a style statement and a popular choice among celebrities which includes the legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and the Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan.
10. Maruti Suzuki stopped production for the 800 in February 2014 as the Alto introduced in 2000 was a popular choice and offered marginally better space and features over its predecessor.
Although Maruti Suzuki 800 is no longer in production, it still is one of the most sought-after cars among first-time drivers or those who still looked forward to a reliable and nearly zero per cent maintenance car, the 800!