The cars : Hillman Hunter (Rootes Arrow) development story

The Rootes Arrow range was conceived as a smart-suited replacement for the Audax range of Minx/Super Minx models. Launched in 1966, the new range was spearheaded by the Hillman Hunter and Singer Vogue.

Referred to by some as the last Rootes car, this family saloon, which was also badged as the Hillman Minx and Humber Sceptre, was ultimately sold as a Chrysler at the end of its long production run (below).

Rootes Arrow: The prime performer

Hillman Hunter (in Chrysler form)

The Arrow range came about as a result of the Rootes Group management’s determination to replace its popular and elegant Audax range of cars with something conventional which had plentiful mass market popularity for the late 1960s. However, it didn’t start out that way.

The early 1960s were a time of great design advancement, with BMC in one corner going following an ambitious front-wheel-drive model policy, and Ford in the other, demonstrating a flair for styling optimization within strict cost control.  Rootes could seemingly trod its own path, somewhere in the middle ground.

However, that had all been put on its head, when the company decided to bet the house on the advanced rear-engined Hillman Imp. The new small car with its all-new factory were a new direction, and it was one the company looked to be taking for its larger family car range. It was to be rear-engined and have flamboyant styling. The Rootes Swallow would be that car.

Rootes Arrow: Bridging Imp and Swallow

Initially, in 1962, the Rootes Arrow was conceived as a smaller, cheaper, more conventional car, to bridge the gap between the Imp and the Swallow saloon car project. The Arrow’s styling was the responsibility of the Rootes Design Team, led by Peter Ware and. as can be seen from pictures of it below, the styling schemes investigated were of a fairly conventional looking three-box mid-size saloon, with strong overtones of the Imp.

It was designed around a new engine, suspension and floorpan which, Rootes hoped, would move the marque forwards and take on the new and successful Ford Cortina.

The Arrow was also conceived as a conventional replacement for Hillman Minx, and so had quite a tough task ahead of it – as such, the new model was designed in badge-engineered Hillman, Humber and Singer guises. The early styling schemes resembled an enlarged Imp, but these were soon revised into a plainer and more classical looking saloon.

Rootes Arrow design evolution

The plug is pulled on the Swallow

Sadly, soon after the launch of the Imp in 1963, it became apparent that the Rootes Group’s profit situation was not good. The investment at Linwood had proved to be a huge drain on resources, even before the much-delayed launch of its vitally-important new baby car.

But, when the Imp did make it onto the market, Rootes’ negative cash flow situation was exacerbated by its lack of sales success and high warranty costs. That seriously affected Rootes management’s confidence in the forthcoming Swallow.

Not only that, but the planned investment in this radical new car was too much for the financially strapped company. In 1963, the decision was made to cancel the Swallow – and an alternative was needed in double-quick time…

Rootes Swallow rear

Arrow changes tack

In early 1963, that alternative plan was already being drawn-up: the Arrow would be enlarged and taken upmarket to cover the area that Swallow had vacated. The intention was for Rootes to build a lighter, slimmer car, built around the existing engine/transmission package as used in the Audax range.

To simplify the product range, it was conceived that the Arrow would replace the Minx, Super Minx, Sceptre and Rapier models – and, right from the beginning, saloon, estate and coupe versions of the new car were planned for.

The elementary work undertaken on the Swallow project did not go to waste though. In styling the Arrow, much of the previous car’s design features were incorporated, and that is why the saloon proposal could make the transition from project plan to a full-sized clay model, approved by management, in less than ten months.

A rejected proposal for the B Car (Avenger); this boxy saloon with its unusual haunch did not appeal to manangement, but it took clear influences from the Arrow. Note the Sunbeam badging on the front of this car; it was planned that export Hillman Hunter models would be badged in this way. (Picture: "Cars of the Rootes Group", by Graham Robson)
A rejected proposal for the B Car (Avenger); this boxy saloon with its unusual haunch did not appeal to management, but it took clear influences from the Arrow. Note the Sunbeam badging on the front of this car; it was planned that export Hillman Hunter models would be badged in this way. (Picture: ‘Cars of the Rootes Group,’ by Graham Robson)

Arrow styling: familiar and comforting

The Arrow took shape as a ‘pure Rootes design’, as Graham Robson describes it, with the styling being led by Rex Fleming. The Sunbeam Rapier and estate version were overseen by Roy Axe, a Designer that would go on to lead a long and successful career at Chrysler and Austin-Rover.

When Rootes received a major injection of cash from the US giant Chrysler, which increased its shareholding in 1964, the Arrow project did not deviate from its intended course, meaning that it is this car that should claim the title of ‘the last Rootes car’.

Although, Chrysler’s purchase of a stake in Rootes did not change the design and implementation of the Arrow, it did mean that there was finally, a healthy amount of cash washing around the company. This allowed for the Arrow to enjoy a rapid and well-funded gestation period.

Rootes Arrow full-scale proposals

By late in 1963, the newly enlarged Arrow was taking shape nicely. It satisfied management in as much that it would be cheaper to develop, and less costly to produce than the Swallow. It was also cheaper to build than the Audax range, and looked shaped perfectly to take the fight to the Ford Cortina and Corsair. These full-size models were approved by management on 17 April 1964.

The Arrow took shape in remarkably quick time, and this is the proposal that management approved for further development.
The Arrow took shape in remarkably quick time, and this is the proposal that management approved for further development
Once the full-size clay had been sanctioned, work began on several different frontal treatments. Here are three that did not progress beyond this stage.
Once the full-size clay had been sanctioned, work began on several different frontal treatments. Here are three that did not progress beyond this stage

By March 1965, this frontal treatment had also been signed off for the Hillman version, in favour of the two proposals immediately above it.
By March 1965, this frontal treatment had also been signed off for the Hillman version, in favour of the two proposals immediately above it

Rootes goes Hunting

In comparison with the existing Minx range, the new car was considerably lighter, squarer shouldered, and definitely more conventional in its engineering approach. Model-on-model, the new car was up to 135kg lighter than the outgoing one, and this meant that although the existing engine lineup was used, the new cars would be considerably more efficient.

For a car that was launched in 1966, the Arrow was very contemporary in style, shedding the 1950s fussiness that typified the its progenitors. The plain-jane three-box reflected its time perfectly, and it would integrate seamlessly in the the UK landscape, thanks to its similarity with Roy Haynes’ Ford Cortina Mk2 and the Vauxhall Viva HB.

As it transpired, this school of design did not stay in the ascendance for very long, being overtaken by the Detroit-inspired ‘Coke bottle’ cars, typified by the later Ford Cortina Mk3, Vauxhall Victor FE, the Morris Marina and Hillman Avenger.

The Arrow monocoque was around 70kg lighter than the Super Minx, with an overall weight of 262kg. Structural rigidity was 4650 lb ft/deg, which was not bad for a 1966 four-door saloon. The body structure was built by Pressed Steel Fisher Ltd., and was comprised of seven separate sub-assemblies. (Picture: Style Auto)
The Arrow monocoque was around 70kg lighter than the Super Minx, with an overall weight of 262kg. Structural rigidity was 4650 lb ft/deg, which was not bad for a 1966 four-door saloon. The body structure was built by Pressed Steel Fisher and was comprised of seven separate sub-assemblies. (Picture: Style Auto)

Under the skin: a conventional lesson

In the chassis department, the Arrow was conventional (in later terms), but proved significant for Rootes, as it was the company’s first car to sport McPherson strut front suspension, allied to a solid rear axle. This resulted in safe and secure, if uninspiring, handling.

As per the original Arrow design brief, every version would use existing power units, although they were overhauled for their new applications. The ohv units were treated to a new five-bearing crankshaft, and in order to fit under the Arrow’s lower bonnet, they were inclined at a slight angle. The 1964 all-synchromesh gearbox was retained, as was the existing rear axle.

Hillman Hunter at the London Motor Show

What the road testers said

The Rootes Arrow was launched at the London Motor Show at Earls Court in October 1966 as the Hillman Hunter (above) and Singer Vogue. It would vie for column inches with fellow debutantes, the Ford Cortina Mk2 and Vauxhall Viva HB, and earned Rootes plaudits for being an all-new car at a particularly exciting time for the industry.

Autocar magazine would get its hands on the Hunter nice and early, putting it through its paces for its 7 October 1966 edition. In its conclusion, it said: ‘In many ways the Hunter represents a break with tradition for Rootes, who are obviously aiming this one at the popular family car market where the competition is already keen.

‘Yet the engineering of the new car is as sound or better than anything produced by Rootes before and there are significant gains in performance and economy over the previous model. More than this, the Hunter handles better, is lighter and easier to drive and has a lively fresh nature that gives good prospects for a long and successful production run.’

How little did Autocar guess that it would make it to 1979 as the Chrysler Hunter, and all the way to 2005 as the Paykan.

Hillman Hunter 1966

In its road test, performance was around the middle of the pack, with a 0-60mph time of 14.6 seconds, maximum speed of 90mph and an overall fuel consumption of 26.5mpg. These could all improved upon by buying different iterations of the breed.

Development by marketing only

As we’ve already hinted upon, the Rootes Arrow would go on to be sold in a wide variety of versions, which are detailed below. The principal opposition it found itself against in the marketplace were the Ford Cortina and Corsair, the Austin Cambridge, Morris Oxford and BMC 1800 as well as the Vauxhall Victor.

However, as it enjoyed such a long production run, cars such as the Audi 80, Fiat 131 and Vauxhall Cavalier would all be sold alongside the Hunter and its badge-engineered cousins throughout its life. Needless to say, that wouldn’t play well as the car continued to age.

In its April 1978 Car of The Year issue, What Car? magazine concluded from its Chrysler Hunter Super road test, ‘Despite its 1725cc engine, the Hunter is painfully slow and harsh when pushed. Car suffers from gross understeer which can suddenly transform into dramatic oversteer. Ride is badly affected by bumps and passengers affected by body roll.

‘For about the same money buyers can choose 1600cc versions of the Cavalier, Cortina or Opel Ascona, 1800cc versions of the Princess or Marina or even top of the range Avenger, stablemate of the antiquated Hunter.’

Production and model history

In between its launch in 1966 and its demise in 1979, the Arrow’s development was really only one in a marketing sense. Badge engineering was the order of the day, and the differing needs of customers were handled with a bewildering array of marques and models.

As we’ve already seen, in contemporary road tests, the Arrow range never could be described as a pacesetter and, once the 1970s arrived, this well-engineered saloon was left behind by its contemporaries.

Initially built at Ryton, then Linwood from 1969, with bodies by Pressed Steel Fisher, the Arrow range typified Rootes, rather than Chrysler. By 1976, it was left on the fringes of Chrysler Europe’s range, being left behind by a new generation of SIMCA-based products.

Production was moved to Ireland in 1976 to coincide with the car’s move to Chrysler branding in September of that year. This followed the UK Government’s bailout Chrysler UK at the end of 1975, with a streamlining of production and model ranges. But of just as much relevance, it allowed the Hunter (which had not been significantly updated in a decade) to make way for the far more contemporary Chrysler Alpine.

In the end, the Chrysler Hunter remained in production, sadly unmodified, until 1979 and never officially made the transition to the Talbot model range, although the newly re-branded dealers would end up selling a few run-out models.

Rootes Arrow variations

There were many badge engineered variations sold in the UK and overseas with a breakdown of all models below, and more detailed descriptions of the most important versions below that.

  • Chrysler Hunter, Chrysler Vogue
  • Dodge Husky pickup
  • Hillman Arrow, Hillman Break de Chasse, Hillman Estate Car, Hillman GT, Hillman Hunter, Hillman Hustler, Hillman Minx, Hillman Vogue
  • Humber Sceptre
  • Paykan
  • Singer Gazelle, Singer Vogue
  • Sunbeam Alpine, Sunbeam Rapier coupés
  • Sunbeam Arrow, Sunbeam Break de Chasse (Estate), Sunbeam Hunter, Sunbeam Minx, Sunbeam Sceptre, Sunbeam Vogue

Hillman Hunter/Minx

1970 Hunter De Luxe estate: it took four years for the five door version of the Hunter to make an apperance on the market. The Estate body, however, appeared in 1967. Called simply the Hillman Estate car, it was based upon the Minx... (Picture: Chrysler press photo, supplied by Graham Arnold)
Hunter De Luxe estate (1970): it took four years for the five door version of the Hunter to make an appearance on the market. The Estate body, however, appeared in 1967. Called simply the Hillman Estate car, it was based upon the Minx… (Picture: Chrysler press photo, supplied by Graham Arnold)

The Hillman Hunter replaced the Super Minx and was available with 1496cc and 1725cc engines. The Minx version of the Arrow followed a year later (in saloon and estate form, although the Minx name was never attached to the five-door in the UK), and it amounted to little more than a downmarket version of the Hunter.

Differences were not just limited to trim and equipment, though, as it used an iron-headed version of the 1496cc engine (developing 54bhp). This principle was applied to the 1725cc Minx a year later (iron-headed again, producing 61bhp), but in 1970, and in the spirit of Chrysler-sponsored rationalisation, the Minx was dropped to make way for the Hunter De Luxe.

The trim-looking Hunter estate (sporting Sunbeam Rapier rear lamp clusters), appeared on the scene in 1970, the same time that the Hunter GT was made available. The sporting Hunter replaced a model based upon the Minx (but called, simply, the Hillman GT), and could boast a healthy power output of 79bhp. Performance was adequate for its day: 0-60mph in 13.5secs and a top speed of 97mph, but compared with the 1971 Cortina 2000, it began to look a little second rate.

In 1972, the Hunter received a further facelift, which was the announcement of the 93bhp Holbay-engined Hunter GLS, with Humber Sceptre-style front end styling. Beyond this, the Hunter did not receive any further improvements (of substance). The Hunter was rebadged as a Chrysler in late 1977, receiving its last minor facelift, in order to fit into the rationalised range (the Sceptre/GLS grille was fitted to both remaining models, with vinyl roof and Rostyle wheels were added to the the Super). Production of the Chrysler Hunter continued (in Ireland) until 1979, when it was retired after a production run of 470,000 units.

Humber Sceptre

The Humber Sceptre Mk III was the optimum Arrow, featuring the best trim package and a 79bhp version of the venerable 1725cc engine. Interior was plush indeed, with a wood veneer dashboard panel and luxuriously trimmed seats – in more modern terms, it would be the Ghia X or Vanden Plas EFi of the range.

Externally, it was distinguished by its handsome four headlamp nose (reminiscent of the Sunbeam Rapier) and the later Hunter GLS. An extremely appealing estate version was added in 1974, which used the Hunter estate shell and a complete set of Sceptre interior appointments. Externally, it was finished off with chromed roof rails and, as such, was considerably ahead of its time, as the idea of a plushly trimmed estate car had yet to find favour with rival manufacturers.

Humber Sceptre production continued until 1976, when it was phased out as a result of product rationalisation. With its demise, the Humber name went to its grave.

Humber Sceptre

Singer Vogue/Gazelle

In the same way that the Hillman Hunter/Minx was, the Singer Arrow was developed to replace two ranges (Vogue MkIV and Gazelle MkVI), with a single bodyshell. The existing names were carried over, but the Arrow-type Vogue, which appeared alongside the Hillman Hunter in 1966 and the Gazelle, which appeared a year later, were little more than an exercise in badge engineering.

These Singers were extremely closely related to their Hillman brethren, so it comes as no surprise that they were phased out in 1970 following further range rationalisation.

Sunbeam Rapier

The Sunbeam Rapier was launched in 1967 and could be best summed up as "gentleman's tourer". It was a stylish car indeed, but sadly, was not developed during its life. (Picture: Chrysler press photo, supplied by Graham Arnold)
The Sunbeam Rapier was launched in 1967 and could be best summed up as “gentleman’s tourer”. It was a stylish car indeed, but, sadly, was not developed during its life. (Picture: Chrysler press photo, supplied by Graham Arnold)

The Sunbeam versions of the Arrow were the extremely stylish Rapier/Alpine models, which were styled by Roy Axe. The pillarless two-door coupe was heavily based on Arrow underpinnings, right down to the suspension layout and engine configuration. The 1725cc Rapier came in two rates of tune; the 76bhp standard version, and the 93bhp H120. The H120’s engine featured twin dual-choke Weber carburettors, and was developed by notable Rootes tuners, Holbay.

As was the style at the time, the H120 received Rostyle wheels and a natty little boot lid spoiler. The wheels, and not the spoiler would be standardised in later years. When the gorgeous Alpine 2-seater roadster was dropped in 1968, it was replaced by a cheaper version of the Rapier, with simpler trim and a down-rated 72bhp version of the 1725cc engine. A sad end, it has to be said, for the Sunbeam Alpine line…

The Sunbeam Alpine lasted until 1975, and the Rapier, a year later. Neither model was replaced by Chrysler Europe, as the Matra Simca Bagheera was never officially imported into the UK in right-hand-drive form. Even if it had been, it would have appealed to an entirely different clientele.

In mainland Europe, there were also Sunbeam versions of the Arrow saloon (as there were of the Avenger), but these were never sold in the UK in large numbers; only being offered for a few months during 1970, following the death of the Singer Vogue.

Written with reference to ‘Cars of the Rootes Group’, by Graham Robson

Thanks to Quentin Gallagher for further information.

Keith Adams


  1. The Alpine / Rapier looked fabulous to me and I nearly bought one but couldn’t quite make the asking price at the time. The high end versions were well equipped inside with a lot of instrument dials and very comfortable. Cheaper versions just had basic instruments and no rev counter. Access to the rear seats was not great but there was plenty of legroom when you got in although headroom was just about adequate as you would expect from the roof line. The 1725 engine was a gem in any state of tune and could be made to run like a sewing machine with a bit of TLC. The boot was also massive but with a small opening.

    Unfortunately, like many cars of the era, rustproofing was not a strong point and there were several rust traps, especially under the front wings in front of the A pillar and round the rear wheel arches. The long doors could also sag on the hinges if not greased regularly.

    As I recall, handling was reasonable but not terribly exciting, generally like the Hunter. Stable and predictable but the simple beam rear axle could tramp if you were heavy on the throttle on a wet road.

    I still look longingly at the Alpine versions in classic car shows!

    • I had one in metallic blue. LBL749E if I recall. Great car, eventhough I bought it in1974, from a guy at Harwell. Sadly the three day war(?), Meantpetrol rationing slit becameabowser for my spitfire 4. Great instruments, quick and huge illuminated boot great car, great days!

  2. I see the The Sunbeam Rapier and think, wow that looks nice, and i am amazed its related to a 4 door Saloon car

  3. Back in 1982, I had a 1973, 1500 (DL I think ) Hunter, followed, a year later by 1975 GLS, She was metallic turquoise and I loved that car. I was 19 at the time, wish I had both that car and a full head of hair these days!
    Great site, a real pleasure to look through so many interesting articles

  4. I knew an ex rootes workshop manager in the early 70s and quality control was a major problem.He said the ones driven to the garage were bad enough but when they arrived on a low loader you knew you had your work cut out.Oneh120 was a tooth out on the timing gear

  5. @7 My father worked for Roots, Chrysler and so on till the late 90s. During that time he would get one or more new company cars a year they used to come on a Friday and Saturday was spent with it up on the ramps with the spanners, i don’t think the concept of quality control existed at Linwood.

  6. My parents had a Hillman Minx in the early 70s, it was pale blue with blue vinyl seats. XPF667G, they brought it from Shackletons Garage in Merstham Surrey, trading in a Triumph Herald 13/60 convertible.
    It was a good car, don’t ever remember it going wrong. My mum sold it in 77 to a guy who drove the local mobile library. The last time we saw it it had been round the clock! Rust in peace

  7. Does anyone know the differences between a Hillman GT and a Hillman Hunter GT. My dad had a GT on an H plate and am now unsure if it was a Hunter GT or just a GT. My dad always called it a Hunter.

    I have a photo of it that I must scan in, then I’ll post it.

    • The Hillman GT was launched in 1968. It was renamed Hillman Hunter GT at the same time as the Minx and Singer models were renamed Hunter. It used the Sunbeam Rapier twin carb engine and remained part of the range until 1975. They were very rare.

    • Like many cars of that era, the Hunter GT got Rostyle sports steel wheels fitted (before the popularity of alloys). These were also used on Ford Capri’s, Vaux Viva’s and Magnums etc. Actually looked quite good but needed re-painting from time to time!

  8. OK, thanks for that.
    I wonder what model it was my dad had then. I had thought that the GLS replaced the GT, as THAT had the Holbay engine in it.

    Ah, according to Wikipedia, “The final Minx was replaced by a Hillman Hunter De Luxe model in 1970”. So, an H plate GT could have been a Hillman GT OR a Hunter GT.

    • An H plate would have been a Hillman GT. The GLS came out in 1972 and used the Rapier H120 ‘Holbay’ engine. I think the Hunter GT eventually became one of these mystical models- that was in the brochures and price lists but you could not actually buy. Incidentally the red car at the top of the page is an early Hunter GT.

      • I have a Chrysler brochure printed in October 1974. The Hunter GT is shown but really the Hunters at that time did not suit a GT as such.

        All the Sceptres had the alloy headed, high lift camshaft and twin Strombergs. There were not many Hunter GT’s sold but that engine was numerous in the Sceptre.

  9. It’s normally the basic spec models that are in the brochures and price lists but almost never seen on the roads.

    The idea is to tempt potention buyers into the showrooms with the low price & to get them to upgrade a trim level or 2.

  10. The Hillman Hunter. There were loads of them on the roads when I was a boy. While British cars of the time were earning a bad reputation the Hunter was generally known for being a rugged reliable workhorse. A bit thirsty but reliable.
    I heard a man say once, ”..everything goes like a Hunter but nothing stops like the Hunter..”

    About every farmer had a Hunter, the Toyota Avensis of its era I’d say. There were loads of them and were probably the best 2WD car for towing there ever was. A farmer where I grew up had a Hunter for a long time and would tow insane loads with it. He replaced the Hunter with a MK5 Cortina which he thought was a great car until his rough use of the towing bent the rear crumple zones of the Cortina!
    He went back to the Hunter after that, a Chrysler Hunter with the Sceptre front end. That Hunter was around for a long time as I remember. Some people said the Chrysler Hunter was easier on petrol than the Hillman, probably due to the electronic ignition the Chrysler Hunter had and I’ve heard stories of recovery drivers removing the ignition parts of the Chryslers and fitting them to the earlier Hillmans.

    I wonder did Rootes make hay with the Hunter/Arrow series when the Hunter or New Minx was new at the time of the big strike at Ford?

    When Rootes died in mid-1970 to be re-branded as Chrysler UK so did the low priced Hillman Minx (became Hunter DL) and the Singer Vogue became Hunter GL where the Laycock overdrive was optional.

    There was a lot of confusion with the Hunters power output which may have lost it sales to the Cortinas. Minx, DL and Supers had the all-iron low compression engine while Vogue, GL and some Hunters at Super trim level had the more potent high compression alloy headed engine.
    The Rootes 1725 was a good wearing engine but like a lot of engines at the time they could suffer from oil starvation which killed them at a young age. They really needed STP to give them a long life.

    A very underrated and forgotten car the Hunter. If it were 1975/6 and I was after a new car I’d be straight down to the Chrysler dealers with a waxoil gun and a tin of STP to buy a Hunter Topaz (had the overdrive as standard on this special edition.) A late MK3 or MK4 Cortina? I reckon a good Hunter was still a wiser buy.

    • Also I think the Hunter and Avenger suffered from Chryslers lack of engine development. The Rootes 1725 was probably more robust than the BMC B and most of the Ford units as well (the Vauxhall engines I remember being about the worst.)

      While its obvious that Chrysler came to favour the Simca side of Chrysler Europe, after all Simca made more profit, Uncle Walter didn’t develop the Simca engines either so its no suprize the former Rootes cars remained with ohv under the lid.

      While the Avenger engine was not the same as the Rootes 1725 they were similar, you could fit a Holbay 1725 to an Avenger gearbox as many rally drivers did and as a friend of mine plans to do with a MK2 Avenger 2-door.

      The real shame is that the Avengers engine was designed to be relativity easily developed to OHC and assuming also an alloy head we could have had a very real Cortina alternative.
      Remember also that Rootes were thin wall casting specialists, likely why their transmissions had a good reputation, so we can assume that the Avenger/Rootes OHC would have worked! Ford got a bad reputation with the early Pinto and none of the Pintos were ever economical.
      When you consider that the Japanese engines of the time (I mean the mid-late 1970’s) were known for both durability and economy (they were 10 years ahead with engine technology at the time) it was because they were alloy headed OHC units.

      So a Hunter fitted with an OHC 1800cc Avenger engine? Could have quite easily happened and have made the tough old Hunter exportable as well as putting an Avenger bang on par with the Japanese, if not further ahead considering handling characteristics.

      Chrysler UK went to the Government for a £200m bailout in 1976, about a year after the first BL bailout.

      Its a pity that at least a fraction of the money that was frankly wasted on BL was not granted to Chrysler UK to develop the Avenger engine to alloy OHC. It seems nobody was thinking in Chrysler UK.

      • Would have to agree on the idea of the Hunter receiving 1800-2000cc Avenger engines.

        What is also a pity would be Rootes not being in a position to evolve like Isuzu did after the latter moved on from license built designs by the former, since even the Isuzu Bellel was said to still have some Rootes heritage (with the GL engines still having some Minx origins and allegedly including a 2-litre petrol as well as spawning DL diesel engines).

  11. Pat has fond memories of the Arrow cars! My late uncle owneda 1972 Humber Sceptre which was a lovely car. In 1975 while working in Iran, I visited the Peykan (Iran National) car factory where Hunters were built from CKD kits. The Peykan was the most popular taxi in Tehran. (Apparently Peykan was the farsi word meaning ARROW)

    • Yes Hilton the Sceptre was indeed a lovely car and I was seriously getting the hots for a 1967/8 Sceptre in Persian Blue (there is a link to Iran if ever there was!) that was for sale a while ago.

      I remember, yes happy memories, of Hunters and Avengers. They also seemed to just go too! They actually started in the mornings, were comfortable and good to look at. I loved them if I am honest!

      Peykan also made MK1 Avengers for a few years, I wonder do they still have the tooling? Mayne a way to achive a bit of entnte cordial with Iran? Oh hey, fantasy!

  12. Thinking about Hunters has woken up an old memory from 1978/9, I forgot about the following Hunter story.

    My Father had a MK3 Morris 1800 at the time which was none too reliable and I remember my Mother hating driving it, the word, ‘ropey,’ was often used. The Crabs had some merit but driving them with that bus-like steering column angle was indeed like trying to drive a bus with flat tyres.
    Her brother, an uncle of mine had a brown Hunter, a 1975 Super I think – it had the shiney bits around the boot which the Hunters for 1975 got.
    She was always borrowing that hunter! I forgot about that. Any long distance trip she borrowed the brown Hunter instead of the Crab!

    So look at the Hunters steering column angle as but one example, the comfortable seats and the good visibility you can see why a lot of people preferred to drive a Hunter rather than a so-called advanced FWD BMC. The Hunter ‘only’ had recirculating ball steering and that in some respects had merit over early rack and pinions.

    Unless my memory is playing tricks on me the Hunter was a nicer place to be in over the Crab too. Those mouse trap BL interior door handles! Snap – Pain!

    You know when you compare the Rootes cars to the BMC’s it tells a story. Rootes knew a lot more about what made people happy with a car.

    For a laugh youtube, ‘Chrysler UK ad’ there is a 1974 Chrysler commercial, ”…The Hunters, roomy and reliable, yet Hunters are not at all expensive to run..”

    The Chrysler Man can!

  13. These were generally reliable and desirable cars in 1725cc form. Also due to the reliable engines, many lasted well into the eighties as cheap runabouts. It’s a shame Chrysler lost the plot a bit by using Simca engines in their later models, as the Rootes engines were reliable, poweful and refined. Perhaps if the Alpine used the 1600 and 1725 Hillman engines it could have really scared the Cortina.

  14. Rootes engines were reliable powerful and refined. For a British 1960/70’s engine that’s really saying something!

    My goodness there were actually good cars made in Britain at the time, how has history forgotten this?! When you say whats a British 60’s or 70’s car people automatically think BMC/BL and generally laugh. (okay this is the wrong forum to say so!)

    I think Rootes and Triumph were the business. BL got a long lingering public sector death, Rootes got a more rapid private sector death.

    Rootes>Talbot, what an incredible change in a decade! From a Hillman Minx to a Talbot Horizon. Chalk and cheese for sure.

    Is Chrysler to blame? Another big, ‘what if,’ regarding the British car industry. What if Chrysler buggered off a few years earlier than 1978 (and took their lack of rustproofing with them) and by government or partnership with a competent manufacturer (say VW or Renault) Rootes was resurrected (Three Spires Motors?)

    Hmmm just let BL die and grow former Rootes into a player? I guess that would have been politically unacceptable at the time although there is a certain logic to let BL crash and save Rootes. Being a smaller manufacturer they would have been easier to manage and grow.

    For sure, the Chrysler Alpine with the 1725 would have been a different car. It seems like Simca was driving Chrysler Europe and Chrysler UK was an afterthought.

  15. Back in 1973 I rode in a hired Hunter Auto saloon. Although I was not driving and it being an automatic, it seemed to pull quite well and maintained good cruising speeds up to Scotland.

    I used to like the badged Singer Vogue too, which had oblong headlamps while the early Hunters had round. The twin headlights on the Sceptre really distinguished it from lesser versions.

  16. Had a 1970 Sunbeam Rapier 40 years ago turquoise in colour, lovely car with that overdrive on 3rd & 4th gears. First MoT after buying it, sills needed welding as those satin sill covers hid a lot. Head gasket went but an easy fix. Also remember fixing a misfire with a pair of new diaphragms in the twin Strombergs at 50p each.
    The warning lights in the dashboard could be dimmed for night time by flicking the lenses.
    Went down to Cornwall for 2 weeks in 1997,first time I filled it to the brim and hadn’t realised how big the fuel tank was at about 12 gallons.

    Part exchanged it for a Citroen Dyane (!).

    • I remember the final run-out Sunbeam Alpine used the Rapier’s coupe bodyshell. But to me it just seemed to be a cheaper version of the Rapier, as the traditional Alpine’s were usually soft tops.

  17. @ Pat, I agree, all this talk of British cars being rubbish in the seventies is untrue. Yes there were a few lemons like the Triumph TR7, but there were also good cars like the first generation Granada, the massively underrated Vauxhall Magnum and FE Victor, Hillman Hunters and Triumph Dolomite. Bear in mind continental Europe produced some real rubbish like the Fiat 131.

  18. The main counterpoint was the arrival of Japanese cars in many crucial markets, & a lot of European makers upped their game in that decade.

  19. Was the Arrow capable of being fitted with larger engines whether an inline-6, Type 180 V6 or a Chrysler-sourced V8? Know the latter was fitted into an early 1960s Audax Humber Sceptre.

  20. The Hunter was quite a tough, reliable car that was popular as a taxi in Newcastle for many years, and became a cheap used family car well into the eighties. It was probably the closest car we had to a Plymouth Valiant, its American sibling that was known for its ability to take big mileages well and to take on maniacs in tankers( big Duel fan talking).

    • Glenn, I remember the Hunter taxis in Newcastle in the 1970s were operated by a firm called “Slaters” and were usually painted yellow. They were seen frequently at Newcastle Station & Airport. The Hunter’s minor facelifts kept it looking fairly fresh especially when they fitted oblong headlamps.

      I think all the Iranian Peykan’s had those lamps too and many were used as Taxi’s in Baghdad… heavy going in the extreme heat for the cars so they must have been durable.

      • I suppose the boxy styling didn’t date as badly as the curvy designs in the early 1970s. In fact many later 1970s cars were straight edged which helped things.

      • I think there was a rule that all taxis in Newcastle had to be yellow. They were mostly Mk3 Cortinas when I was up there

        • I don’t remember Newcastle Cortina MKIII Taxi’s, but take your word for it. I think I did see yellow Cortina MKIV taxis in Newcastle though.

    • Have heard of Hunter Windsor V8 conversions (akin to the Sunbeam Tiger), though wonder if a Triumph I6 would have been a step too far?

  21. The Hunter was a sound design let down by poor marketing and a dreary interior on base models. The use of the semi-strip speedo from the previous model Minx Mk6 in the base models was incredibly short sighted as it was dated in 1968, never mind 78. The Hunter estate was also a useful and spacious motor, but the French involvement killed off the Rootes engines in favour of the rattly and harsh Simca units which were pretty much universally hated in the UK. My late father (a mechanic) owned a Minx Mk6 for about 5 years and we were able to make the 1725 run like a sewing machine. We finally got rid of the Minx when rust came through the front wings / a-pillars from underneath. Rust was also a perennial problem with the Hunter. I must admit that a Humber Sceptre Mk3 with the 1725 engine and 4 headlight grille would make an interesting and practical classic.

    • Humber Sceptre…That’s what my late Uncle bought after owning a Chrysler 2 litre. The Sceptre (in bronze)was a lovely car inside & out and he sold it to an enthusiast when he gave up driving himself. Another favourite of mine was the badged Singer Vogue.

      • There was also a Singer Gazelle Arrow, someone in the mid 1990s owned one a few streets from me.

        • That’s right Richard. The Gazelle was the equivalent badged model to the Hillman Minx and I believe the Singer Vogue was slightly more upmarket than the Hunter. As was the Sceptre!

          The Vogue got oblong headlamps before they were added to the Hunter’s.

          • The Gazelle was a 1500 like the Minx but had much higher trim. was the Vogue the first British car with rectangular headlamps- or was it the Viva HB?

  22. The Chrysler generation of Hunters were used for transport for RAF officers( I saw two at RAF Leeming in 1981). It’s likely by 1978, when the two Hunters were registered, Chrysler were winding down production( assembly had moved to Dublin) and the deal was very good for the RAF.
    A year later, the MOD struck a deal with Vauxhall, which saw 3000 Chevettes ordered as transport pool cars, and a fleet of Cavaliers being ordered for officer transport. I do recall being stuck behind an Army Cavalier in Shropshire with the officer and his wife in the back and an NCO driving him through the countryside.

  23. Recently read of Leo Kumicki and Philip Laughton working on a Twin-Cam conversion of the 1500cc Minx engine on a testbed (which was not fitted to any cars), along with a number of SOHC variations (which were allegedly fitted to a few cars).

    Curious to know whether this would have happened before or after Rootes acquired Singer, or if the Twin-Cam / SOHC Minx engines were likely an in-house project with little to no Singer input.

  24. @ Spyder… It’s very close but I think the Viva HB got oblong headlamps first, then the Singer Vogue very soon afterwards, but I might be wrong!

  25. I’ve been watching a clip of Get Carter, where Cliff Brumby is thrown off the roof of the car park, and the police cars that arrive to investigate are Hillman Hunters.

  26. In 1981 I nearly had a hand-me-down, R reg from memory so 1977-ish, Hunter as a company car. I’ve always remembered it as a Hunter (GL?) but it might have been a Sceptre as it had been a junior director’s car – status not age, he was retiring. I drove it quite a few times and remember it as being a nice car but it felt very narrow to me. My own car was an FD Victor which according to Wiki was about 4″ wider and it felt it.
    At that company was the one and only time I drove or even went in a Marina. It was an old rep’s car which was being sold and I had to take it for an MOT – a wonderful feeling, I couldn’t care less if it passed or failed – and to a car wash. All I remember is I got soaked, I couldn’t have been wetter if the door window hadn’t been there. I don’t like Marinas…

    At a previous company the sales manager had a Hunter GLS which was impressive. It amused me to see the twin 40 DCOEs under the bonnet of a car from what I at least considered to be a fairly staid manufacturer.

    5 or 6 years later I briefly had a 1600 Avenger as an emergency replacement for a stolen 2.0 Mk3 Cortina. I hated it with a passion, apart from the heater and heated rear window which were the fastest acting I’d ever had, and might still be.

  27. Not long after my Dad bought a Vaux VX4/90 in 1966, our neighbour bought a newly launched Hillman Hunter in red. I remember the Hunter looked modern for its day and a good match for Vauxhall & Ford offerings… better than BMC equivalents?

    • @ Hilton D, the Hunter was aimed squarely at the Cortina and Victor buyer, a conservatively styled and engineered car that didn’t scare off buyers like the ADO 17, which was also more expensive and bigger. It is a testament to the 1966 Hunter that it survived in production for 13 years and was one of the biggest selling cars of the seventies. Also it didn’t seem to suffer from many reliability issues.

      • Thanks Glenn. I agree – and it was a worthy successor to the Super Minx. Rootes did well with badge engineering back then (like BMC) and the Arrow range provided a good section of trim for most buyers.

        My favourites were the Humber Sceptre & Singer Vogue, though Chrysler ownership rationalised the range later.

        • @ Hilton D, the Humber Sceptre was a seriously underrated car, seventies versions were as well equipped as a Cortina 2000 E, but the 1725cc engine delivered better economy and similar performance from the lighter body. Also the estate version was popular with farmers due its huge boot, ability as a tow car and strong reliability. The Arrow range proved one thing, not all British cars of this era were unreliable and badly made.
          Even the Irish assembled Chrysler models, for all they were getting old by the late seventies, still had a following as a cheap, reliable taxi and family car.

          • Well said and the 1725cc engine was well proven having been used in previous Rootes cars like the Super Minx and Sunbeam Rapier. I think the fastest Hunter was the GT version?

            I must admit to liking the Cortina 2000E and MKIV Ghia too. I’m at an age when cars of the 60’s and 70’s appeal to me more than todays high tech offerings.

  28. @ Hilton D, the 2000 E moved the Cortina upmarket with its velour seats and vinyl roof and the Ghia was Rover like inside, with all the wood and chrome. However, the Humber Sceptre was still a class act for less money and the 1725 could easily keep up with a Cortina 2000 E.
    On a different note, in the 1974 Likely Lads Christmas special Terry’s taxi is a Hunter De Luxe and the taxi that transports him to the docks in the film version is a Hunter as well. It did seem taxi fleets liked the Hunter as it could take high mileages and city centre driving well.

    • Glenn, the Newcastle Taxi firm Slaters used a fleet of yellow Hunters in the 1970’s which congregated at the Station & Airport.

      A neighbour in our street got a new Cortina 2.0 Ghia in met blue as his company car. It looked great especially when brand new in his drive. A client also had a Ghia in met brown with cream vinyl roof. Good times…

  29. Had the Rootes Arrow remained a smaller car as was originally envisaged before it was later enlarged after the abandonment of the Swallow project, were there any plans for lower-displacement 1250-1400cc versions of the 5-bearing crankshaft 1500-1725cc Minx engines or was the original intention for it to feature similar displacements as the aging Minx / Super Minx?

    What is confusing about the Rootes Group’s plans with both the Swallow and initially smaller Arrow projects (mentioned above), is the former was planned to feature 1250-1750cc Coventry Climax engines derived from the 1216cc FWE (used in the Lotus Elite) despite being a larger car in comparison yet the smaller Arrow was to apparently feature larger displacement Minx engines (instead of adopting an approach comparable to the roughly similar Isuzu Bellett that replaced the Isuzu built Hillman Minx).

    That is not forgetting the rear-engined 4-door Spartan sketch, which appears to be a proposal for either an enlarged Imp aka Super Imp or smaller Swallow derived car powered by an 1100cc engine presumably a production version of the unbuilt 998-1150cc tall-block version of the Imp engine.

  30. In the stories I write the Rootes Arrow range consisted of Hillman Minx/Hunter saloon & estate car, Singer Gazelle/Vogue saloon & estate car, Humber Sceptre saloon & estate car and Sunbeam Alpine/Rapier/HS120 fastback coupe. Unfortunately not many of these cars survive today.

  31. My favourites were the Singer Vogue and Humber Sceptre… higher up members of the Rootes family. My late Uncle owned a 1972 Sceptre in metallic bronze.

    • Miranda’s mum Dee Hart Dyke was seen driving an estate, think a Singer in the open garden programme she did with Miranda on more4

      • Little remembered today, the Sunbeam Rapier H120 was quite a desirable and powerful Capri alternative and could reach 110 mph flat out. Also the styling was quite distinctive with the vinyl rood, fastback rear and four headlamp front end.

        • I remember the Rapier H120 but only in adverts and brochures… never actually saw one for real. I did see a few Alpine’s when they shared the Rapier bodyshell. I still like the look of those cars with 4 round headlamps. BMW included!

          • The Alpine was a more basic and slower car than the Rapier and was phased out in 1975 in favour of the Chrysler Alpine, a totally different car. The Rapier H120 was the performance model, with 108 mph on offer and on a par with a two litre Capri, but offering overdrive for a more relaxed drive. I always liked them and the Rapier is now a rare classic.

  32. I read somewhere that 2.3m Paykans were made in Iran over 40 years, which would make the Arrow/Hunter one of the most successful British cars ever!

    The Iranian pickup version was still in production until 2015 as the Bardo 1600i

  33. Have always wondered if Rootes and Isuzu Motors for that matter would have benefited from renewed ties with each other instead of both being swallowed up by Chrysler and General Motors respectively.

    Consider the following:

    – The Isuzu Florian that appeared almost around the same time was of similar size to the Rootes Arrow and had a similarly long production run (along with spawning the Isuzu KB / Faster pick-up).

    – Like the Arrow based Sunbeam Alpine Coupe / Sunbeam Rapier Coupe, the Isuzu Florian would form the basis of the Isuzu 117 Coupe and appear pretty much around the same time.

    – The Isuzu Bellett was of similar size to the Hillman Super Minx and appeared only a year after the latter.

    – The Isuzu GH/GL/G/Z petrols and possibly even the C/DL/F dieselized versions trace their linage back to the Minx engines that only grew to about 1725cc (despite investigation into an enlarged engine of around 1.9-litres for the Sunbeam Alpine sportscar).

    – The Hillman Avenger was of similar dimensions to the Vauxhall Chevette / Opel Kadett C that formed the basis of the Isuzu Gemini and Isuzu Piazza.

    All of which certainly opens up more options for various Rootes models had the two companies opted to renew ties and embraced standardization / commonisation in mechanicals and other components.

    • I think both companies ended up being swallowed up because they were too small against the opposition. However I always wondered why the Japanese companies went it alone instead of working with the British counterparts.

      If Rootes had gone down this route with Isuzu, would we seen better cars? Isuzu struggled with their cars in the Japanese markets, would their models sold here or would the rootes models sold there?

      Also would have BMC been better linked up with Nissan?

      I think the problem with the British companies was that they always knew best, this would have happened especially being so close to WWII.

      • @daveh, Rootes problem was, unlike BMC, Ford, Vauxhall and Leyland, was they were mostly a producer of cars and only had a limited presence in the commercial vehicle market with their Commer vans and no presence in the bus market. They certainly couldn’t fall back on profits from commercial vehicles and buses to help out their car business, as happened in the early days of British Leyland, and relied mostly on car sales. Also the cost of developing Linwood and the problems with the Imp hurt the company and they were driven into a takeover by Chrysler.

      • Indeed, both BMC and Rootes could have benefited from further ties with Nissan and Isuzu respectively though it is best to define exactly what it would mean in practice.

        Not so much envisioning it as BMC and Rootes simply and rather cynically piggybacking off the engines and platforms of Nissan and Isuzu respectively, since the latter were simply building upon British designs that the British carmakers were either unwilling or incapable of developing further themselves despite such developments likely appearing originally in the experimental departments of both BMC and Rootes.

        BMC really needed a slightly enlarged A-Series half-relation by the early/mid-1960s loosely akin to the Nissan A OHV / Nissan E OHC (possible descendants include the GA / QG as well as the Micra’s MA, CG and CR) engines as well as a trio of conventional RWD cars akin to the Nissan Sunny (B10 to B310) along with the Pininfarina styled Nissan Bluebird 410 and Nissan Cedric 130 (along with elements of Vauxhall Viva HA and Vauxhall Victor FB/FC).

        Interestingly Fiat’s Dante Giacosa also proposed the Simca Aronde’s chassis being standardized with the Fiat 1100 Type 103 on cost grounds, though it is a question of whether Rootes and Isuzu could come to an agreement on standardizing the chassis of the Arrow/Florian and Super Minx/Bellett as well as the Minx/Minx-derived engines respectively.

        Both Rootes and Isuzu would have required some earlier changes before further ties could be considered, with the former avoiding acquiring debt-ridden Singer, following Rover’s example in pushing back against government interference on building a new factory outside of Ryton and squashing the subversives of Acton strikes at British Light Steel Pressings that appeared during Rootes expansion and likely detracted resources during the Imp’s development.

        Otherwise not sure if Rootes actually had a pre-war to post-war opportunity to expand its presence in the commercial vehicle and bus segments by accumulatively acquiring smaller commercial vehicle and bus companies within the UK below Associated Commercial Vehicles / ACV.

        For Isuzu Motors it would be not having real-world Hino Motors split off from Isuzu in 1942 as well as retaining/acquiring Kawasaki motorcycles (since they were all part of the same Keiretsu), which would have made for a larger carmaker compared to real-life that via a production version of the Kawasaki KZ360 prototype would even has a presence in the Kei Car segment as well as styling from possibly Michelotti (in place of the later Hino Contessa).

        Even then it is likely Rootes would have benefited from a merger/takeover by an alternate Leyland Motors (with Jaguar instead of Rover), where Rootes expanded ties with Isuzu together with Triumph’s expanded ties with Saab (later merged to Saab-Scania would have laid the groundwork for a passenger car / commercial vehicle alliance between Leyland (plus Rootes), Isuzu and Saab-Scania.

        It is also interesting to note Lotus’s involvement with Rootes / Chrysler UK via the Lotus Sunbeam, whose engine used the Vauxhall Slant-Four as a starting to accelerate development of its own engine with the Vauxhall version used in the Chevette and the Chevette/Gemini-based Piazza using Lotus-tuned suspension whose engine happens to trace its linage back to the Minx engine.

        Practically speaking Rootes could have benefited from the extra 224cc of a Minx derived 1949cc Isuzu engine and the extra 2 decades or so of development Isuzu undertook instead of being limited to just 1725cc, which along with spawning turbocharged, diesel/turbodiesel and stillborn 16-valve variants could have been used by Rootes until it was ready to be replaced by a 2-litre production version of the Brazilian Block Avenger engines. Failing that, have read either an Isuzu DOHC head or even a downdraft G160 OHV alloy head could potentially fit onto an Alpine block as well as a 5 speed close ratio gearbox selections that can also bolt up the Hillmans with a little adjustment.

        • Also forget to mention the possibility of Isuzu becoming involved in the development of the Imp (particularly in regard towards a 4-door version) in return for standardizing the componentry of the Super Minx/Bellett and Arrow/Florian.

          That way Isuzu either has a smaller model below the Bellett to take on the Toyota Publica and Mazda Familia of the period providing the company with a 3 car range or by way of an expanded Isuzu with Hino Motors and Kawasaki in the fold, allows Isuzu’s model range be further expanded to 4 cars ranging from the Isuzu Kei Car equivalent of the Kawasaki KZ360, followed by the Isuzu version of the Imp (in place of the Renault-derived later Michelotti-styled Hino Contessa) along with the Bellett and Florian.

  34. The lack of development of the Imp is always a puzzling one as the car was mostly unchanged during its 13 year life. It’s a shame as the 875cc engine was a high revving unit and the rwd design meant the car had plenty of luggage space in the front and an opening rear window for small items of luggage. I know early examples suffered from overheating and heavy oil consumption, but once these problems were beaten, the Imp became a reliable small car.

    • Agreed and like to believe it would have achieved better success had Rootes not been forced to accept bad logistics (e.g. Linwood) instead of an expanded Ryton factory in return for a loan nor had the Acton strikes potentially detracted from further developing and resolving the Imp’s early issues. Sharing the costs of the Imp’s development with a possible partner in Isuzu earlier on would have also helped as well.

      The Fiat 850 / SEAT 850 / SEAT 133 and other derivatives (including the Spider, 850T/Familiare/900T as well as the Fiat designed Simca 1000 / 1200) gives a rough idea as to how the Imp could have evolved on top of other unrealised Imp developments such as a semi-automatic gearbox,Asp sportscar, microvan, smaller 800cc and larger 948cc versions of the original Imp engine (950 being the actual limit of the production Imp engine as opposed to the limited-production 998cc units) together with tall block 998-1150cc+ versions.

      • @ Nate, I think the Imp was a lost opportunity and being forced by the government to build,a new factory at Linwood, where the workforce had no experience of building cars, added massively to the car’s development costs and it was never updated much. It could have actually done quite well in Europe where rear engined cars were popular.

        • Just realized the Imp was also another victim of the UK’s EEC entry being vetoed in 1963 and with other factors also led to the company switching from the rear-engined Swallow prototype to the more conventional front-engined Arrow.

          There are those who with the benefit of hindsight say Rootes should have switched to a FWD layout for the Imp by typically citing the Mini (as well as the story of Issigonis meeting with Mike Parkes and Tim Fry from time to time and at one point even driving each other’s Imp and Mini prototypes), yet few realise Rootes invested a lot of money in the Imp and the car was too further along in development for them to simply scrap it and start over.

          That is why a better approach in the event Rootes were able to sort out the Imp’s problems earlier on in its development (at Ryton of course) would have been to further expand the number of Imp variations and consistently update the design before contemplating a FWD replacement.

    • My brother once owned a 1963 IMP deluxe which went pretty well if a bit noisy (whine) at speed. It did have a couple of mechanical problems but once sorted, it was a useful practical car back then (1967?)

  35. I’ve recently purchased a hillman hunter estate what a state old hilda is in but im brave and have a welder its got massive loading space and I’m going to fix it up she won’t win any welding come beauty contest but I will love driving this old car it will have to have the 1500 avenger engine as the old owner left her for dead with plugs left out and the rats decided to make home in the back its rotten just on the points wer everyone is saying scrap it but im not letting go of my hilda hunter so William will be proud and pointing saying you stupid twat lol

  36. My dad has Sunbeam Hunter GLS. Spacious and very good to drive and reliable. And even, we live in Rovaniemi (Northern Finland, just aside Arctic Circle) there was no starting problems in cold winter mornings, even below -30celsius. It was my practise car when I starting to practise car driving..

  37. Just came across this site, memories came flooding back as I waded through the posts. A couple of which reached deep into my grey matter, the name Swallow opened fond memories of my time working in the Experimental Dept at Stoke Coventry in the 60’s.In ’63 or ’64 not sure, my boss passed me a set of car keys and a rather large old fashioned door key, the car keys fitted the prototype Swallow and the large key fitted the heavy sliding timber door at the old Singer factory a few miles down the road in Cov., he said “please take the Swallow and park it in the Singer shed with the other stuff and I’ll send one of the lads to pick you up shortly’. There were a couple of Singer Hunter’s (see SM 1500 wikipedia) and a ton of old machinery stacked in there. I parked the Swallow , closed the large sliding door locked it and waited patiently for my lift back to work… endeth the tail of the Swallow!
    Another post from Nate June 2018 jolted my grey matter into action, his reference to an Audax Humber Sceptre with V8 motive power suddenly returned me to the M1 motorway blazing my headlamps at a Jaguar 3.8 Mk2 which was blocking me passing in the outside lane………happy days, that car was a blast to drive. I was in tears when we had to put gas cutting torches to it and dispose of it….Chrysler spoilt all our fun!!!!!
    Kind Regards
    Bob Walton

  38. I remember the Audax bodied Sceptre well (my Dad nearly bought one) but I didn’t realise a V8 was being trialled. That would be one powerful car back then had it reached production. I’m surprised Rootes Chrysler didn’t consider a V6 version instead

    Presumably a V6 would have fitted?

    • V6 & V4 engines were considered for the 160/180/2 Litre, not sure if this was before the British & French projects were merged. Supposedly they would have been like the Ford Essex units.

    • Based on the time period and had it been considered earlier, a V6 version of the LA V8 would have likely been more feasible for both the Audax Sceptre and Sunbeam Alpine (the latter as an indirect successor to the Tiger V8). Especially as Chrysler looked at an aluminium version of the LA V8 based on work done with the aluminium block 225 Slant-6 engine.

      Supposedly Chrysler US did look at V6s during the development of what eventually became the Slant-6, which for all its positives would later prove to be a handicap when Chrysler needed to downsize its cars (with the later 3.3/3.8 V6 along with the 2.2/2.5 4-cylinder reputedly sharing architecture of the Slant-6 at least earlier on in development).

      • The slant six was the standard engine in the Plymouth Valiant and was known for being a reliable engine and economical by American standards( 20-25 mpg possible). I always wondered why, except for a handful of Australian Valiants being imported, this wasn’t produced over here as the flagship Rootes model and badged as a Humber.

        • Agree to some extent (Exner version aside) despite the later limitations of the Slant-6, although as the Avenger or B Car became Chrysler’s “World Car”, would have preferred a common World Car successor to the Valiant/Super Snipe (plus indirectly the Vedette) with the flexibility to feature different engines depending on the market (like how the Centura featured the Hemi-6).

          The closest thing to a Flagship project was originally considered via a stretched C Car (180) floor pan and dubbed the D Car, before that project was canned in 1970 due to Chrysler’s ongoing issues (though not before styling ideas for the D Car were produced by Roy Axe as mentioned in the C Car / 180 article).

          As the Australian built 180-based Centura lacked the rigidity to cope with a V8 engine, perhaps a production version of the D Car project could have easily remedied that issue and thereby allow Chrysler to field a trio of World Cars (Avenger, 180 and D car aka Valiant / Super Snipe successor) in most markets in the Americas, Aus/NZ, South Africa, UK, etc where RWD was still the norm (prior to gradually switching over to FWD).

          • The Arrow was also limited by having no engine bigger than 1725 cc, when the Cortina and Victor were up to 2 litres by 1970. However, this engine was very tuneable and the Humber Sceptre and Hunter GLS could do over 100 mph and the lighter body meant it could keep up quite easily with a 2 litre Ford or Vauxhall.

          • The Graham Robson book on the Sunbeam Alpine and Tiger does make mention of a memo asking if the 1725cc Minx could be enlarged to about 1.9-litres though there was apparently no stretch that could be accommodated with the existing production line tools, even then Rootes were focused on developing the Avenger engine that had potential scope to be stretched to 2-litres via the Brazilian block as well as spawn a 60-degree V6.

            The distantly related 1949cc Isuzu G (and G-based Z) engine as used in the 117 and Piazza Coupes (plus the Bellett, Florian and Gemini in other forms) does give a rough indication of how the 1725cc could have evolved with new tooling had the opportunity been there (including dieselized variants), which give or take does tie back to the memo above on enlarging the engine in terms of approximate displacement.

            The Brian Long book on the Daimler SP250 makes a claim Rootes seriously looked at a 2-litre 4-cylinder version of the 3-litre Six used in the Series II-IV Super Snipe codenamed H2L that went nowhere, which was based on an Armstrong-Siddeley design that itself was essentially best described as a redesigned simplified OHV version of a W.O. Bentley designed Twin-Cam chinese copy of his own Lagonda Straight-6 engine developed when he was at Armstrong-Siddeley for a sportscar project before it was repurposed to power the Sapphire saloons in 4/6-cylinder forms.

            Speaking of the Armstrong-Siddeley 4-cylinder apart from the 120 hp Sapphire 234’s looks, the car was said to have handled better than the contemporary Jaguar with the engine having the potential to be tuned to around 150-180 hp.

  39. @ Nate, Armstrong Siddeley is a make of car no one except enthusiasts and people over 70 will remember as they stopped production in 1960 to concentrate on their aerospace business. In their day, Armstrong Siddeley were considered a rival to Daimler and even Rolls Royce, as they produced beautifully made large saloons that were aimed at wealthy buyers. Old boys I talk to who remember these cars always said tney were huge inside and were very well appointed and very quiet and smooth riding.

    • There is an Armstrong Siddeley on display at Bamburgh Castle. Named after the Armstrong family (Lord Armstrong). They were rare on UK roads but I did see a few as a lad in the mid 60s.

      I once owned a Spot-On model of a Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. As Glenn says, imposing cars in their time.

      • @ Hilton D, the name Armstrong in the North East was synonymous with heavy industry and probably had a link to Armstrong Siddeley. Also the Sapphire and Star Sapphire were aimed at very well off buyers who chose Daimlers and Rolls Royces and were seen as a rival to these cars, with their wood and leather interiors and near silent engines. A shame Armstrong Siddeley stopped making cars in 1960, but their products were very niche and without a bigger partner, there wasn’t enough money in car production.

        • Indeed Glenn. I visited Cragside in Northumberland a couple of weeks ago so the reputation of Lord Armstrong and his engineering skills is familiar to me. A pity the Armstrong Siddeley range was not available in bigger numbers back then, but too expensive for most folk.

    • Rootes and Armstrong Siddeley did later come to a mutually beneficial business arrangement where production of the Sunbeam Alpine between 1959 and 1962 was contracted out to Armstrong-Siddeley at Parkside.

      It seems the business arrangement also included the use of an Armstrong Siddeley based Six for the 1958-1967 Super Snipe as well as an attempt to develop a related Six-derived four, possibly the Hawk (to replace the existing pre-war rooted engine) if not the Sceptre (which would explain the H2L codename in the Brian Long book on the Daimler SP250) though no suggestion of using it in the Sunbeam Alpine.

      Perhaps Rootes after heavily investing in expansion during the Imp project, thought it would be cheaper to add a (departing) Armstrong Siddeley touch to the Humber marque (kind of like BMC did for Vanden Plas with Rolls Royce) and also get the latter to assemble the Sunbeam Alpine then invest in new production tooling for the Minx engine as Isuzu would go one to do.

  40. According to the comments on a Curbside Classic page on the Super Snipe, someone stated that the 4 cylinder planned from the sapphire six was also planned to be made into a 2.6l 4 and a 4.6 V8. It also mention the AS/Rootes plan to build the Gordon-Keeble, and possibly replacing all engines in the group with AS derived engines replacing the top end, while Coventry Climax engines replacing the bottom end.

    • Not 100% sure how accurate the above is from the Curbside Classic article in question, though IIRC much of the information can be found in Bill Smith’s 2006 book on Armstrong Siddeley Motors.

      Nevertheless it is an interesting idea and had Rootes been in a position to realise it, would have basically led to the possibility of the Sunbeam Alpine and Super Snipe, etc potentially being powered by an all-alloy V8 capable of up to 5.3-litres (via the 2.6 block). One that was distantly related to the later Tadek Marek designed Aston Martin V8, which itself was said to have carried over quite a bit of the redesigned Aston Martin Straight-6 (also brought up IIRC in David Dowsey’s book on Aston Martin).

      • Meant to say Sunbeam Tiger, not Sunbeam Alpine..

        Anyway it would have basically negated the need for Rootes to look to Ford and later unsuccessfully Chrysler for suitable V8 engines.

        • My Dad followed up on his Anglia 1200 estate deluxe with a brand new K reg. Hillman Hunter Super with 1500 engine in dark blue – Ziebart treatment in those days cured the rust. This one would suffer from suspected carb. heat problems that stopped the engine at junctions on long journeys – but always restarted instantly on the key. Was replaced with a brand new L reg, Hillman Hunter GL Estate 1725 with a great gearbox and wood trim inside. Those were the days when a new car smelt great inside and made the garage smell great.
          We tested a 1500 Hillman Avenger Estate but the noise of the exhaust could be heard when accelerating -simply not as refined as a Hunter.
          Optional extras on the Hunter were ‘over-riders’ on the front and rear bumpers – simple vertical metal and rubber add-on’s to reduce the problem of ‘parking nudges’. The ‘Rootes’ brochure called this new iteration of the Hunter “The Refined Hunters”. In the pictures were also the Hunter GT and top of the range Hunter GLS with twin headlights. The GLS certainly had the gorgeous Rostyle wheels, before the days of alloy wheels.
          My dad always claimed to have had it Ziebarted it but there was a Crylaguard label in the back window, so I reckon he got duped with the second best alternative – however, it did prevent that car from dying from rust, the car eventually died with engine / carburetor problems.

          My neighbour opposite also turned up with a brand new ‘plain beige’ Hunter GT as written on the boot and possible a GT badge on the front. This had fairly plain steel wheels with the 4 nuts exposed and a small central hub with a Red label centre on it – also shown in the brochure. I have only seen 1 black and white picture of this on the internet. This may have had a ‘GT’ stamp on that Red label. It’s funny how such a small highlight can enhance the car so much!, I even drew pictures of all the Hunter wheel variations in my Art class at school. I also remember the brochure saying the GT had twin carbs. but still short on power compared to the full ‘GLS’.
          I was later to learn the Hunter GLS had the ‘Holbay’ twin carb. setup and for me now being a ‘Hunter’ person, this was my icon car at the time and I would take note over the years on the rare occasions when I saw one. The GLS was ‘my’ secret and one that none of my school friends knew anything about. Adverts at the time said to watch for GLS in the front grill.

          Adding to my walk to and from school I always delighted in the various Ford Cortinas, Capris, Escorts, GLX badges and Consul L, 2.0, 2.3 and 3.0 badges, the odd Vauxhall Victor Estate, a Wartburg (owned by the Russian language lecturer) (best sounding exhaust engine = 2 stroke no less) and the holiest of grails a single Jensen Interceptor with double tennis ball sized exhaust pipes, always parked in the same place.
          I eventually got my ‘Hunter’ – as a 1981 BMW E21 320 in black with the twin headlights. The 320 had no boot spoiler and hence, the back end looked very Hunter like – however, the 6 cylinder engine put me into a new league – which has stayed with me ever since, I found all I needed was a BMW i6 at the front, rear wheel drive and a decent gear box, E21 320, E30 320i (wish I still had it – most ‘entertaining’ saloon ever) (rust killed it), E39 520i Touring (still got it, 100% perfect, possibly too perfect and not as entertaining as an E30 ), and now my F11 523i is my ‘Rolls Royce’ comfort wagon! 8 speed ZF gearbox, the most low down torque ever, ‘autohold’, and perfect cruise control.
          ‘Icon’ is now an i8 and possible full conversion to electric.

  41. The Hunter was a good car in its day, and the third best selling family car in Britain 50 years ago. The car was popular with fleet managers, taxi firms and the police as it was quite robust mechanically and was always a popular second hand family car. Also the large range of models from the basic De Luxe to the luxurious Humber version meant there was a Hunter for every pocket, rather like the Cortina.

  42. Rootes, Chrysler etc were as confused and lost as BMC/BL/ARG etc. As launched in 1966 the Hunter was bang on trend – The first car to properly challenge the Cortina and accidently styled to look exactly like Ford’s new Mk2 Cortina. It had it made! – but like the Cortina it should have been replaced in the early 70s. It almost sort of was with the Avenger – But instead of targeting this as a Hunter replacement it was sized slightly smaller and sold alongside the now ageing Arrows car. To compound matters they then launched the slightly bigger 180 – The range was a total mess, but they wernt finished yet. In 75 the Alpine was lobbed in as another similarly sized additional car. It had to wait for PSA to arrive and sort things out, unfortunately by then all that could be done was shut the whole lot down and commandeer Chrysler plants to build Peugeots.

    • I did wonder if the Hunter stayed in production because the Peykan production was keeping the economies of scale down. Eventually the tooling was shipped out to Iran, but was it offered any earlier so the Iranians so they could be more self sufficient?

      • @ Richardpd, the Stoke factory in Coventry was turned over to making kits for Iran in the late seventies, while the Chrysler Hunter had its production moved to Ireland, although was again assembled from kits made in Britain. The Hunter still had a following amonmg taxi drivers, who saw it as a simple and fairly reliable family car, and for private buyers wanting a low priced family car. Obviously the Hunter was rather dated by 1978 and it was outclassed by its rivals, but it lived on until the end of the decade.

        • I remember one of my primary school teachers had a late Hunter in bright yellow.

          At the time I wasn’t sure what it was, as they weren’t that common by the 1980s.

    • I have to say I cannot see the slightest resemblance between Mark2 Cortina and the Arrows. Both the 180 and the Alpine were in fact Simca creations and were introduced because Chrysler had bought both Rootes and Simca.

  43. My dad has Sunbeam Hunter GLS. It was car which one I take first driving practises. Very roomy, reliable (roads in Lapland, where I live, wasn’t so good condition), tarmac roads where very rare. Finnish dealer made every Sunbeam rustproofing and give 5 year warranty. In winter time it was also warm, and starts easily even below -30 degrees. Dealer also fit some special winter goodies like heated front seats (standard in Saab’s and Volvo’s) and electric engine warmup kit. Great car.

  44. I note that the blue Hunter DL pictured at the top of this article has Sceptre style grille & headlamps, but plain hubcaps. This must have been a run out entry level model using Sceptre parts?

    • It’s possible the car in the photo was the Chrysler version, which had four headlamps, and came as a DL or Super. These were, as the article points out, a dated car by the late seventies selling on price and way behind rivals like the Cavalier or Cortina. Nevertheless, drivers who didn’t want an Alpine and wanted a conventional saloon that they were familiar with such as taxi firms, who were big Hunter buyers, would have bought the later model. Also the Iranians loved the Hunter, assembling it from kits, to sell as the Peykan.

      • Okay Glenn… good point. I filmed the assembly of Peykan’s at the Iran National car factory in 1975. Outside the factory were many wood packing cases with the Chrysler logo on. It was considered a prestigious industry for Iran back then. All the taxis in Tehran were orange Peykans

      • Yes, the final couple of years of New Zealand assembly had that same nose with the larger bumpers and blacked out headlamp surrounds. In 1973 the NZ importer Todd Motors used the Sceptre front, minus the bonnet bright strip, for a unique local Hunter GL trim level which had replaced the Singer Vogue in 1971, initially with the same nose as the Vogue and, from the 1972 ‘new dashboard’ facelift (we also got high back seats) sharing the Hunter Super nose with new plastic grille (in black instead of grey) and square headlamps. NZ only got the 1725 alloy head Hunter Super and Singer Vogue initially, both with an auto option and standard brake servo, and the iron head 1725 Hunter wagon arrived in 1970 with Super interior trim and overrider bumpers but minus most exterior brightwork, opening front quarterlights and door armrests. It was said at the time Chrysler U.K. would only supply the wagon CKD if Todd’s agreed to reintroduce the Imp which duly appeared in Sunbeam form with four headlamps and a fake wood dashboard with round dials.
        From 1970, the Kiwi Hunter range diverged even further (there had already been interior and exterior trim and wheel trim changes) from the U.K. line, the Super and wagon keeping the rectangular speedo while the Super also retained the alloy head engine along with the new GL which retained the Vogue ‘real wood’ interior trim and dashboard until the 1972 facelift.
        The Arrow line was assembled from 1967 to 1979, was the first model line to break the 30,000 units assembled record and ultimately around 55,000 were built. The last Super sedan, the wagon and GL having been dropped (and the Super upgraded to GL trim) off the line in 1979 was donated to a car museum.

  45. What makes me laugh is the sheer derision people, and modern day car manufacturers, aim at the defunct British car industry.
    Let’s have a look at what is in offer today.

    French cars – unreliable electrics, and expensive to maintain.
    Mercedes – these have Renault engines in, so I refer to them as a ‘posh Renault.’

    Nissans – powered by Renault engines and running gear.

    Dacia – Renault owned and based.

    Vauxhall – not originally Vauxhall anymore, and just badge engineered.
    Bland, and expensive to maintain.

    Ford – no longer bullet proof reliability.

    Volkswagen – diesel scandal, rest on their laurels on an outdated reputation.

    Skoda – no longer cheap and now extortionately expensive.

    Jaguar – unreliable engines.

    It seems in these technologically advanced times, car companies are regressing.

    They have the cheek to point the finger at BL, ARG, MG Rover, etc, about laughable reliability!!

    • According to my local MOT man, Renaults and Peugeots regularly fail their first MOT at 3 years old for shot trackrod ends and balljoints.

      Vauxhalls are now Peugeots. I’m currently using what will be my last Astra…

    • @ Andy, I would say Skoda are still cheaper than Volkswagen and most surveys class them as more reliable than Volkswagen. Skodas aren’t cheap in the old sense, but they’re producing far more advanced and desirable cars than 30 years ago, in the same way their stablemate, SEAT, have moved on from making poor Fiat clones that only sold on price.
      As for Dacia, these seem to do quite well in reliability surveys and are more reliable than the Renaults they’re based on. OTOH Nissan’s alliance with Renault has seen their once rock solid reputation for reliability tail off and the two I owned were far less reliable than I expected,.

    • Maybe it’s the grass-is-greener mentality but as a Continental European I’d gladly love to own a pristine Maxi or a Princess one day. There’s just something about British cars from the 1950s to the 1970s that speaks to me. I like them just as much as I like 80s British new wave and Victorian houses.

      I don’t think the 1100, Maxi or the Princess have been any less reliable than same-era Renaults or Peugeots. In fact I think the Maxi might have been more reliable actually.

      It’s always weird for me how Brits are always so eager to put down their cars. The French always defend theirs. We’re a Peugeot/Citroen family and let me tell you, even brand new cars have quirks like rattling noises, etc. We’re talking post-2003 cars, all brand new leases.

  46. When I started buying s/h cars in 1977, the Hunter had a very bad reputation for blowing head gaskets. At least they were easy to change on a pushrod engine, unlike today’s DOHC 16Vs. But you often had to skim the head, which had warped. There was also an unfortunate tendency for the steering box to shear off the inner wing, because it was only stressed for crossply tyres, not radials! (The Ford Corsair had the same problem) The right-hand handbrake could also confuse new owners.
    The H120 (with its unique concave bootlid) was indeed rare, but there was one in the car park at Gaydon a couple of years ago; the father of a friend restored one. I remember trying one out in London in 1979, the floor was rusty brown all over and you had to clog it in 2nd gear from time to time to dry off the plugs. So I bought a Firenza 2000, which was woefully unreliable. The Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad used maroon Hunters about 1979 – these cars had bells, not klaxons.

  47. The early 1960s Rootes design office must have been on overload with building up the Arrow from scratch along with the extensive glasshouse redesigns of the Audax, Super Minx and Hawk/Snipe to take out the wrapround rear windows.

    In my first job my immediate boss had a Hunter GLS with the Holbay engine, a real Q-car.

  48. Does anyone know what the weight of the engine used in Audax / Arrow is, depending on if the upgrade from three to five-bearing crankshaft had any impact?

    Also found this article on enlarging the 1725cc engine out to 1922cc, which is pretty close to what was considered for the Sunbeam Alpine sportscar at one time to around 1.9-litres as well as what Isuzu later reached with the Minx-descended 1949cc G200.

  49. As an Eastern European I can’t help but notice that the Arrow is the influence behind the Moskvitch 408 facelift and the then brand-new Moskvitch 412, both launched in 1967. In 1976 they revamped them both, renamed them to the Moskvitch 2138 and the 2140 aka 1360 and 1500 for expart and they became even more Arrow-like. The Moskvitch 2138 and 2140 are basically heavily face lifted 408 Moskvitches with lots of Arrow influences, namely the front and rear clip.

  50. The 1966 Hunter had one big selling point over many of its rivals then: a two speed heater blower, which would have made driving in very cold or hot weather a lot easier and less stressful than its rivals that still mostly came with weak single speed heaters and poor ventilation.

    • Also, My elder brother’s Hillman Imp (1964) had no heater blower fan as standard. He bought one from the dealer and fitted it himself. Those were the days!

  51. “Clip” means nothing in England. Is it front and rear styling?
    I worked, briefly when I first left school, in a garage whose parent company was a Moskvitch dealer. The brakes were appalling from new, I understood only marginal even when adjusted to perfection.

    I’ve no idea about two speed heater fans, having never had a Mk1 Cortina, but surely Ford had introduced their AirFlow ventilation system by 1966?

    • The majority of cars only had single speed heaters then, but airflow type ventilation was becoming more common. I do remember my family changing a 1969 Cortina to a 1974 Maxi with a twin speed heater and it worked a lot faster at warming up the car and demisting the windscreen. ( They only kept the Maxi for six months as it was a 1500 and rather underpowered and thirsty, rather a shame they didn’t choose the 1750 HL, as this would have been an excellent family car).

  52. The preceding Super Minx was originally developed to replace the Audax Minx models, only for Rootes to position the Super Minx above the existing Minx.

    Meanwhile Isuzu were producing the Bellel from 1960 with Farina-inspired body, which was sized above the Super Minx yet below the Humber Hawk with a chassis largely the same as the Hillman Minx (claims of being an all-new design notwitstanding). Whilst also carrying over Minx rooted engines (not certain if the Minx link extends to the 2.0 diesel).

    While Isuzu did not have much success with the Bellel, could it together with the enlarged 2-litre engine have had better luck as a pre-Rootes Arrow model in place of the Super Minx?

    • In Finland, Isuzu Bellet (LHD) sales starts at 1965. Top of the Bellet -models was GT. Totally 6.600 Bellet sold between 1965-1970, which was a lot in a small country. Bellet was also very popular rally and rallycross car. Today 106 Isuzu Bellet are still registered in our museo cars registry. After Bellet comes Florian, but it was too ezpensive..

      • The Bellett was a neat looking car, it along with the Florian and 117 Coupe IMHO are models that with closer-collaboration under the Rootes-Isuzu agreement could have easily been Rootes models with the latter two in particular bringing to mind the Arrow and Rapier/Alpine Coupe.

        As Rootes were unlikely to compete against BMC, the above could have easily carved out a niche akin to BMW by way of branding them as Humbers. With the Minx-rooted Isuzu G engines capable of displacing 1170-1950cc and including OHC/DOHC developments.

  53. The three photographs of the April 1964 full-scale clay model are remarkably similar to production Arrows, with the most significant differences being the frontal styling forward of the wheel arches, and the ‘sweep to the right’ windscreen wipers. The different grille and frontal sheet metal gives a neat but dated appearance and the design team were seemingly not entirely happy with it, as the following photos showed several alternative ideas being tried.

    The grille aperture of the clay model would appear to have been placed lower and further back than the arrangement of production Arrows.

    Had this styling been adopted for production (including the bonnet arrangement) then I believe the position of the engine would have needed to be further back in the engine bay, with less interior foot room and perhaps a different heater-demister location.

  54. In my opinion the arrow range was and still is one of the most stylish salon cars made. Everything just seems to be be in perfect proportion. Trim and elegant as a cigarette case. I think only the Peugeot 405 had that same understated style. I really like them a lot.

  55. The Rootes Arrow was aimed at the Cortina, which was dominating the market between the ADO16 and 17( the Farina cars were becoming old fashioned by 1966), and became a big seller with the sort of badge engineering BMC would be proud of. I can remember the Humber Sceptre being quite a plush car and the Sumbeam Rapier H120 being a strong rival to more sporting Capris, while the Hillman Hunters were well liked as taxis and family cars with few reliability issues. Even the last Irish assembled Chrysler Hunters had a simple honesty despite beimg aged cars by 1979, when they were finally retired, and were still finding buyers.

  56. Debatable, as BMC had invested so much in the ADO17 and the Maxi was under development. The Farina models were kept going because the ADO17 didn’t sell due to the styling and being overpriced. They were old fashioned by the late sixties, with performance and handling way behind their rivals, but sold because they were spacious, reliable and well made. Also, there were some very nice larger engined models until 1968 that made up for the shortcomings of the smnaller engined Farinas.

  57. Larger engined? Unless you mean the Westminster or Wolseley 6/99 and 67110 as opposed to the A40 Farina, they were all the same engines, either 1489cc or 1622cc B series.
    Reliable yes, but never the most exciting powerplants.

    • Yes, the Westminster and the Wolseley, designed for long distance cruising and comfort. The lesser models were comfortable and excellent seats and were fairly quiet at lower speeds, but would struggle to reach 80 mph, when most cars in this class by the late sixties would do 85-100 mph.

      • It’s hardly like for like, is it?
        If somebody is in the market for an Austin Cambridge or Morris Oxford, that’s the size, class or price of car they’re interested in. They’re unlikely to consider an entirely different class of car such as a Westminster, however nice it is.
        I don’t know about accurate production figures but a quick scan of wiki suggests something like half a million or so A60 and variants and less than 100,000 A110 and variants.
        A completely different market.
        As an aside, when my (banger) 3.4 Mk.II Jaguar succumbed to rust and being driven by an idiot youth (me) in 1976 I was offered an A60 for £40.00.
        The footboard existed but between it and the driver’s seat was only a gaping hole…
        I bought an 8-year-old PC Cresta for £30 instead.

        • @ Ken Edmonds,amazing in 1976, you could buy such a large car for the equivalent of £250 and one that probably had a couple of years left in it. I suppose the energy crisis and the recession had seen the values of big Vauxhalls and the like really collapse and I did hear Jaguar had to more or less give away the last E Types as hardly anyone wanted a 12 mpg car in 1974.

  58. A reskin of the Farinas would likely not be worth it due to their inferior Austin mechanicals and the engines would have needed updating in any case. At best the likely outcome would be something along the lines of the Datsun Bluebird 310/410 and Cedric 30 with both lasting until the mid/late-1960s before they were replaced by all-new designs. Around the same time BMC/etc was discontinuing the Farina models.

    The roots of the Nissan C/E and J 4/6-cylinder engines can be traced back to the licenced-built 1.5-litre B-Series known as the Nissan 1H engine, until they were mostly replaced by the Nissan A that integrated Nissan’s improvements to the licenced-built designs and would go on to spawn the E OHC along with the larger CA/CD and smaller MA engines.

    Now an updated reskin of the Minor/1500 and Oxford/Isis would have IMHO been a better approach as a sort of larger Marina-meets-Arrow type car, more so when one considers the Marina itself was only completely outclassed by the mid-1970s.

    Which suggests an earlier Marina-type car would have been competitive had it appeared in the 1960s, they could have also mitigated the issues with the 1.8 Marina had they redesigned the B-Series early on to create a late-60s 4/6-cylinder O-Series in place of the redesigned C-Series. After all the existing O-Series was less of a boat anchor thanks to having its weight shaved off by 20kg over the B-Series.

    • Unfortunately for BMC, Leonard Lord had based the new farina on the Austin because of his bias, though I am not sure if they had gone the other way, a Morris Oxford based car would have been any more competitive as a technical proposition.

      I did read on a board many years ago of Aussies changing the suspension on the farina to make them more competitive in rallying. I wonder if this could have been done with a rebody, maybe on the line of the Nissan Bluebird 510 it might have kept sakes up. Or could it have been adapted to hydralastic? Thing is Issigonis was in charge so it would never have happened as he was addicted to his beloved fwd concepts and anything else was just rubbish.

      • Looking back at Issigonis’s career since he returned to BMC up until he became disinterested and eventually side-lined, what he requested to Lord for his return to BMC was really more responsibility than he wanted let alone cope with.

        Was that really a failure due to Issigonis with his demands coming back to haunt him later on, or down to Lord for not pushing back at Issigonis’s request and better sell the idea to Issigonis of being able to bring FWD trio into fruition? Whilst still retaining the services of Gerald Palmer in a more complimentary capacity, with Palmer concentrated mostly on RWD models at say the D/E/F-segment and sports-cars, where like Roy Haynes in real-life he could notice and better use the talents of MG Chief Engineer Syd Enever.

        Once Palmer was sacked and joined Vauxhall, he involved in the development of the Victor FB as well as the Viva HA and HB, the HB being built in Australia as the 2nd generation Holden Torana whose wheelbase was extended to 100-inches. Giving a picture as to what he could have cooked up to replace the Farinas at the higher-end in what were ill-defined segments during that period (that is down to Issigonis keeping ADO17 Maxi-sized as originally intended).

        At minimum it would have likely entailed a Minor/Oxford/Isis base, vaguely similar to how ideas for a reskinned Minor became the Marina (and were due to evolve into improved 100-inch wheelbase ADO77). That would have likely given it a competitive shelve-life of up to the early/mid-1970s, dependent of course on what fresh and long-lived the Pininfarina styling is used and how often it is updated.

        Additionally they could have incorporated anything that was valuable from the MG Magnette ZB and Wolseley 15/50, the Riley Pathfinder and Wolseley 6/90 despite their (IMHO fixable flaws with the torsion bar front/coil spring rear) and whatever worthwhile mechanicals Austin had besides the engines.

        On top of that in John Thornley’s MG book, IIRC there was said to have been a Magnette modified with a 1.8 B-Series, 4-speed overdrive and disc brakes amongst other upgrades. Along with the rear suspension options like rear coil springs with Watts Linkage or Panhard Rod for the MGB, which although costly could have been spread to other RWD models outside of the MGB to help mitigate the cost.

        On the other hand if strictly focusing on a Marina type approach, it is known they considered redesigning the Morris Minor gearbox to have a provision for a synchromesh on the first gear as well as McPherson strut front for the Marina project. On top of Syd Enever in the event of being required to develop an MG out of the Marina, devising a bracket spot-welded on the Marina under-frame to allow improved rear-axle location for a Panhard Rod.

        So it was seemingly plausible for a Marina type car to feature MacPherson front/Panhard Rod rear suspension, which combined with modern Pininfarina styling as well as updated engines (e.g. early O 4/6-cylinder, etc) with commonality to BMC’s sports-cars.

        It really boils down to what approach BMC would have taken with an early-1960s Marina-meets-Arrow range of cars to replace the Farinas above the FWD trio, the short-term path as in real-life but in the 1960s or something a bit more ambitious yet still not far removed from what was considered in real-life for the Marina. However it would have likely been a much more competitive and even long-lived basis then the Austin derived Farinas in any case.

        • Forgot to mention the choice of suspension would come down to something like the existing Marina complimented by telescopic front dampers/parabolic rear springs and anti-roll bars, in contrast to the MacPherson front/Panhard Rod rear arrangement.

  59. Does anyone know the story behind the South African Dodge Husky pick-ups, and what their origins were? It seems strange that they first appeared so late (1975) and had the Hillman 1725 engine instead of the Peugeot 404 engine.

    • I can’t attest to the Husky’s origins – why it differed from the Iranian pickups – but it was apparently cooked up to compete with Ford’s hugely-popular Cortina pickup.

      It’s difficult to explain the South African industry regulations briefly. Until 1980, light commercial vehicles were subject to different local-content rules than passenger cars and until 1973, many were still imported with nominal tariffs. The mindset at the time was still to import every component possible. The local industry was still operating to some degree as an import-substitution scheme. So it was not uncommon for locally-assembled commercial vehicles to be fitted with imported engines, even when that very engine was manufactured locally. The Datsun 120Y van, for example, was made from imported kits, despite some of the body panels and engine being made locally. The fact that locally-made parts were often more expensive and of inferior quality probably played a role.

      The Husky was attractively-priced and capable but it simply could not compete with the Ford 1-tonner (and its V6 engine option) or the juggernaut Toyota Hilux, not to mention rivals from Isuzu, Datsun and Mazda. With no Mitsubishi pickup available, the Husky was Chrysler’s only option.

  60. Was the superior Coventry-Climax engine ever considered for the Hunter? It would have made a big difference.Odd that it was never an option.

    • AFAIK do not think they considered using the Coventry Climax FWE based engine from the Rootes Swallow project in the Hunter, had the Rootes Brothers taken then chief engineer Peter Ware into their confidence earlier and made him aware of the financial state of the company he would have cancelled the Swallow project much sooner as seen in following PDF interview.

      At best there were internal memos at Rootes querying if the 1725cc Minx engine could be enlarged to about 1.9-litres, however there was no stretch that could be accommodated on the existing production tooling.

      FWIW as a result of the 1953 Rootes-Isuzu technical agreement that began with the Isuzu Hillman Minx and with Isuzu having the benefit of newer tooling, went on by way of the Isuzu CH and CL engines to produce the C petrols (and over time also some versions at least of the Z petrols and C diesels) that had displacements up to 1949-1994cc that powered cars up to the early-1990s with the Aska, Piazza, Trooper, Gemini and Fargo van (aka Bedford/Vauxhall Midi).

  61. Coventry-Climax belonged to Jaguar so I don’t see why Rootes would consider using one of their engines.
    Did they make an engine that would have been suitable anyway?

  62. The only one I can think of is the CFA, that Coventry Climax were designing for the baby Jaguar project. Lee Peelham had one fitted to his Triumph 2000 Estate. They were developing an 1.8 version so maybe this was what John is on about?

  63. The 1725 Rootes engine was a highly capable engine that in Holbay form could quite easily outrun many 2 litre cars in the early seventies, and in basic form could still power a Hunter to nearly 100 mph. Like the Avenger, the Arrow( Hunter/ Sceptre) is one of those half forgotten but quite popular and decent British cars of the seventies. I will admit, though, by the time it was pensioned off in 1979, it was an old fashioned car.
    Another thing, not being in a Hunter for decades, how did the handbrake next to the driver’s door work?

  64. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the main thing I noticed by the early ’80s was that it felt, and was, very narrow compared to cars from just a few years later.
    I don’t remember the handbrake being by the driver’s door but as I had had a Mk.2 Jaguar and two Vauxhall Crestas with the handbrake in the same place I wouldn’t have thought it particularly strange.

  65. The handbrake by the driver’s door always seemed odd to me; my mother had a Super Minx with this ‘feature’ and didn’t like it.

    (She replaced the Super Minx with one of the first Avenger 1500s, a Super in a nice gold colour. When it got stolen from a multi storey car park in Birmingham she got a bright red 1500GT as a replacement. It had wierd cheap dustbin lid wheeltrims, ugly as sin, which were promptly swapped for a set of Minilites with 185/70 tyres which looked much more appropriate.

  66. Although Rootes were constrained by old production tooling from developing the Minx engine into the sorts of designs Isuzu were developing into the early-1990s onwards in both petrol and diesel, it is interesting to compare with both the Swallow Slant-Four / Swift V8 and the Avenger 4-cylinder / V6 options at the time.

    Rootes were obviously held back from making the Avenger engine OHC like intended, drawing influence from the Fiat Twin-Cam for the unreliable BRM Twin-Cam or even being permitted to retain the V6 when it was OHV. Yet was the Avenger engine designed to spin-off a diesel powered variation?

    Before Rootes canned the Swallow project and since they considered many options during the development of the Avenger, did they originally intend the B-Car to be powered by the Swallow or updated Minx engines at any point before they opted for the Avenger engine as an all-new design?

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