Premier Padmini is an automobile that was manufactured in India from 1970 to 1998 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 1970 as the Premier Padmini. The Padmini’s primary competitor in the Indian market was the Hindustan Ambassador and Standard Herald. This famous car ruled the Indian car market and its popularity peaked during 1970s and 80s. Many leading icons of the time including legendary Rajnikanth, Mammootty, Aamir Khan and many others had owned a Premier Padmini during its prime years. Known colloquially as the Pad, or Fiat (since the Padmini was originally a Fiat car), the Padmini is named after a 14th-century Rajput princess. Padmini translates to “she who sits on the lotus” and refers to the Goddess Lakshmi. It was also a common name for girls in India at the time.
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 1970, the car was marketed as the Premier President and subsequently as the Premier Padmini. The car, in its peak during the 1970s-1980s, 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.
Numerous examples still abound as taxicabs in Mumbai, though these are now being phased out due to new regulations enacted in 2013 by the government disallowing vehicles over 20 years old. Many of these taxis now run on CNG for fuel economy. While all cars built by Premier themselves were four-door sedans, small companies also offered other bodywork, mainly in the form of estates. The Fiat 1100-D’s original design remained unchanged, aside from some minor grill facelifts and the removal of the front-door quarter glass at some point in the 1980s.