If you buy a car today, you can expect its delivery in a few days. And if you sell it after a few years, you would be lucky to get half the original purchase price. However, the case was not so under the License Permit Raj.
There were two major manufacturers - Hindustan Motors (which produced the Ambassador car) and Premier Automobiles (which produced the Fiat). A third small producer, Standard Motors, closed down in the 1980s. Predictably, there was a long wait of several years to buy a car, and only people with contacts could get early delivery. Now the price of new cars was strictly controlled by the government in the 1970s, but not of the old ones. Hence, given the scarcity and the long years of wait, it comes as no surprise that second hand cars cost more than new cars! As an accredited journalist, I was entitled to a car from the government quota, and bought a Fiat for Rs 22,000 in 1973. I sold it for Rs 35,000 after six years of use. The post- liberalization generation will view this as completely crazy.
(Excerpts from my upcoming book “25 years of Swaminomics: From Narasimha Rao to Narendra Modi”)