The 1970 Hillman Avenger was a car Rootes/Chrysler tried to sell to the world – it was exported briefly to the USA as a Plymouth, and ended up finding more success in South America as a Dodge. However, although its styling was more appealing than the Hunter’s and the fresh range of OHV engines – 1248cc and 1498cc from launch, 1295cc and 1598cc in 1973 – were lively enough.
In 1973, the appeal of the range was improved considerably by the arrival of the Avenger Tiger, intended for club level competition. Its twin-caburettor engine was easily tuned, with upgrades available off the shelf. Tiger I and Tiger II models were produced, and it was the latter that lasted longer. All models were available in lairy colours with aerodynamic upgrades. Fun, but no Escort RS – and, although few were made, the car lived on in the form of the Chrysler Sunbeam Ti.
The Avenger never really challenged Ford and Vauxhall in the marketplace though – and was rebadged a Chrysler in 1976 and subsequently a Talbot in 1979, and remained in production until 1981 when the Linwood factory was closed.
It was a hugely important car for both Hillman and Chrysler, and ended up being a big-budget effort to try and beat Ford at its own game. New from the ground-up, the Avenger literally run rings around its opposition – but sadly, poor quality and its maker’s political situation spelled an undignified and prolonged death, following years of under-development.
Reviews, blogs and news stories
Detroit meets Ryton According to former Rootes Group styling Director, Roy Axe, the first formal thoughts on the makeup of the Avenger were recorded for appraisal in January 1963. The idea had been to produce a replacement for the Hillman Minx, which at the time, was Rootes’ best selling car. However, the Arrow project was […]
Ryton’s Capri Whitley designed a Coupé version of the Avenger, which would have topped the range and gone head to head with the ultra-successful Ford Capri and Opel Manta. It bears a striking resemblance to BL’s Condor project, under development at the same time. Sadly, it was not to be… The R429 was a fascinating might-have-been. […]
Too close to call? Two doyens of the British family car market slug it out in the first of a new series of road tests… First published in Classic Car Weekly in August 2005, KEITH ADAMS pitted the Hillman Avenger against its arch rival from Cowley, the Morris Marina. It was a close call… Introduction […]
Avengers in New Zealand To celebrate the opening of Todd Motor’s Todd Park car plant at Porirua, Wellington, the December 1974 issue of NZ Motor World ran a large feature of Todds and their operations. Within the feature was a full page glossy colour spread of a car on their production lines, a yellow Hillman […]
Ryton’s finest The Avenger was originally built at a new assembly line at the newly expanded Ryton plant, near Coventry. Ryton was essentially an assembly operation, because the bodies and pressed panels were shipped by rail from the Linwood plant in Scotland and the engine/gearbox assemblies came from the company’s Stoke plant. This was actually […]
B Car down under The Avenger was also assembled in New Zealand, and proved a minor hit on the Kiwi market. Andy Thompson and Shannon Stevenson take up its story. A large number of Avengers were sold in New Zealand. That is why there are still many of them and other British cars of that […]
The Avenger was marketed in the European mainland as a Sunbeam Avenger, here are some images… Sunbeam Avenger Estate Pictures kindly supplied by Hervé Le Guernic and Julian Marsh
Undoubtedly, the most stylish Avenger derivatives were the Brazilian ones… The Polara looked almost like a two-door Coupe, such was its roofline. Andy Thompson charts its evolution. The Avenger was also made by Chrysler do Brasil from 1971 to 1980 as the Dodge 1500 (and 1800) and later as the Dodge Polara augmenting the Dart […]
In Argentina, the Avenger carved itself a solid image as a reliable car for the middle classes. Andy Thompson tells its story… Five years after being conceived in 1966 as part of the Hillman Avenger programme, South American production of the Avenger began in Argentina in August 1971 as the Dodge 1500. Made by Chrysler-Fevre […]
The Stateside Avenger The B Car was developed by Rootes using Chrysler’s money; it was only a matter of time before the parent company in the USA decided to import it into the USA. As a result, Chrysler sold the Linwood-built Avenger in the most demanding of markets under its Plymouth brand. Sadly poor quality […]
A brave new style The New B Car would prove to be a departure from the last all-Rootes model to precede it, the Hunter. The main difference was the emergence of a Detroit style and a more youthful direction. Much time and effort went into ensuring that the car was exactly what the company’s customers […]