Maruti 800 is a small city car that was manufactured by Maruti Suzuki in India from 1983 to 18 January 2014. The first generation (SS80) was based on the 1979 Suzuki Fronte and had an 800 cc F8B engine, hence the moniker. Widely regarded as the most influential automobile in India, about 2.87 million 800s were produced during its course of which 2.66 million were sold in India itself.
With over 30 years of production, Maruti 800 remains the second longest production car in India, next only to Hindustan Ambassador. It is Fondly called as,” The Car that put India on Wheels”
In the 1980s and early 1990s, the name “Maruti” was synonymous with the Maruti 800. It remained the best-selling car in India until 2004, when the Maruti Alto took the title. It was also 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, sold as the Suzuki Maruti.
In an elaborate ceremony held in New Delhi on 14 December 1983, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi handed over keys of the very first car to Mr. Harpal Singh, who won the ownership rights through a lucky draw. The original 800 was based on the Suzuki Fronte SS80, but a modernized aerodynamic version using the body of the second-generation Alto (SB308) was presented in late 1986.
The introduction of this car did revolutionize the automotive industry in India. Right from its inception, it was considered as the first affordable people’s car, the first modern era front wheel drive and high speed contemporary vehicle. The delivery was against bookings done directly with Maruti Udyog Limited (A Govt. of India undertaking).
The proud owner would have to wait for almost 3 years after booking till delivery. Such huge waiting times gave rise to some people indulging into black marketing and earning premiums as much as 40%. Cars produced during the early years were essentially Suzuki OEM components imported from Japan and merely assembled by Maruti Udyog Limited at Gurgaon plant.