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.