Hillman Hunter : Arrow variations

The Rootes Group were a prime proponent of the art of badge engineering; take a basic car and apply several marque names to it in order to cover several market sectors, whilst keeping a wide range of customers happy. Here is a gallery of the different Arrows sold during its lifetime…


Hunter 1976-1979

After the 1976 shakeup of the Rootes Arrow range, all previous marque names were replaced by the Chrysler moniker.


Minx 1967-1970

The Minx was the entry level into the Hillman range; and was replaced for 1971 by a De Luxe badged version of the Hunter.

Hunter 1966-1976

The mainstay of the Arrow range; remained in production from 1966, through to the end in 1979. Started out as a Hillman, and changed into a Chrysler (above). No documentary evidence exists (yet) as to whether any Chrysler Hunters remained in the dealers’ back-lots long enough to be re-badged as Talbots, following the creation of the marque in August 1979.


Sceptre Mk III 1967-1976

The top-of-range Arrow was treated to a wood-clad interior and the use of the Rootes Group luxury brand name.


Vogue 1966-1970

The Singer badged saloon – the marque’s equivalent model to the Hillman Hunter.

Gazelle 1967-1970

The Singer badged saloon – equivalent to the Hillman Minx.


Vogue 1970 only

Rebadged Singer Vogue; only produced for a short time to run-down stocks.


  1. My experience of the Hunter was driving a white auto Hire car in 1973… pretty fast on the open road as I recall. My late Uncle owned a 1972 bronze Humber Sceptre (lovely car). He kept it till early 90s and sold it to an enthusiast. It may still be in use?

    In 1975 as part of my work I did a filming job at the Iran National car factory where Peykan’s were assembled from knock down kits. Many of the Tehran taxis were Peykan’s.

  2. When I had a paper round in the mid 1990s I would often pass a parked-up Singer Gazelle on way to & from the streets I used to deliver on.

    I looked in good nick, might still be around.

    I also spotted a mid 1960s Humber on someone’s drive when learning to drive, around the same time, either a Snipe or Spectre.

  3. Re: “No documentary evidence exists (yet) as to whether any Chrysler Hunters remained in the dealers’ back-lots long enough to be re-badged as Talbots, following the creation of the marque in August 1979.”
    They did in Ireland. I had one. Bronze coloured Talbot Hunter 1500DL.

  4. A much older mate of mine told of how a basic gold-coloured Hunter 1500 DL Estate became his first brand new company car back in 1975.

    He’d gone to the Chrysler dealer with every intention of ordering a natty dark blue 1600GL Avenger saloon, (probably Chrysler UK’s coolest effort at the time) – but the salesman convinced him this Hunter they had in stock was a bargain, (well, the official list price was higher than the Avenger)
    No doubt it had been hanging-around the showroom for ages and they wanted rid.

    Turns out however that he was happy with his purchase, it seemed well built and pulled surprisingly well whilst it was being carefully ‘run-in’

    Later-on he found that the thing would’nt/could’nt go faster than 70 MPH flat-out, (it was meant to just manage 85)- despite the engine sounding willing to try and 3 visits to the dealer confirming there was nothing ‘wrong’ with it.

    The fourth dealer visit resulted in a wise old boy taking a thorough look – took him 15 minutes to suss the problem – they’d fitted the wrong ratio diff at the factory(!)

    Dealer promptly advised that it was no problem and a new correct diff could be obtained within 3 days and fitted before the end of the week.

    Our hero declined, because as he said, having the low-down acceleration was quite nice/useful and anyway he’d got used to it by then….

    eis don’t know why I should care, but does anyone know if the optional overdrive on the 1725cc versions extended to the last Irish-built Hunters?

    • I don’t think the Irish Hunters had that option as the Hunter range was reduced when produced in Ireland. There was no Hunter GL made in Ireland and the overdrive was an option on the GL.

      • PPS: Cars made in Ireland were always mangy with the specifications! If you wanted a GL or something a bit nicer you had to wait, and wait..

        Ever seen an Escort with an Anglia speedo? Believe it or not!

  5. My mum bought a 1970 Humber Sceptre from Woodheads in Blackpool. One of the nicest cars we ever owned. It was laid up for a few years and in 1978 I found it in the lock up where it was stored and put it back on the road. Comfortable and classy. I particularly remember the semi-opaque covers that you could pull down over the indicator repeaters and high beam light and the wonderful seats that cam up over your shoulders. Not the most reliable due to the layup and somewhat thirsty with the twin Stromberg carbs. I drive a Range Rover now but I still hanker for the Sceptre. In South Africa the Arrow was sold as the Hillman Vogue and you still see one or two around.

  6. The Hunter was still a Hillman in 1977 the Chrysler Hunter didn’t appear until 1978. The ‘Chrysler world of Motoring’ was the 1977 year brochure where the photo of the two hunters in a field under the, ‘Chrysler 1976-1979’ title comes from. They were still badged as Hillmans. Really that should be Chrysler Hunter 1978-1979.

    The 1976 rationalization seen Hillman dropped for the MK2 Avenger and the end of Humber and Sunbeam. For another year though the Chrysler dealers still had Hillman under the pentastar signs.

    I guess the Hunters built from September 1977 for the 1978 model year were re-badged as Chryslers because they got the Chrysler electronic ignition system.

    It would seem that Chrysler were planning to keep the Hunter in production after 1979 as they bothered to give the Hunter electronic sparks and a Sceptre front end. Hardly worth doing for only one years production! I think it was a Peugeot-Talbot decision to end Hunter production, very likely because the Hunter did hammer Peugeot 504 sales!

    In Ireland the Hunter was a very common sight probably because of the Rootes-Chrysler assembly plant in Santry, Dublin. Likewise why most Irish cop-cars were blue Avengers. This would have allowed Hunters to be sold with a lower rate of tax as the Irish government once had a plan to create an Irish car industry! Admittedly not at the time of the late 1970’s but the old policy still has some affects.

    BTW the idea of an Irish car industry is not as ridiculous as it first sounds. The First Ford plant in Europe was in Cork and Dagenham was originally planned for Ireland but partition and the fear of civil unrest was the end of that idea.

    I remember the ‘Go Chrysler’ advertising with the next lines, ‘Avenger Sunbeam Alpine Horizon.’ No mention of the Hunter though! It was as if they were trying to stop people from buying Hunters!

  7. @ Pat, some Mark V Cortinas were assembled from kits in Cork and made their way to Britain. There were several plants assembling cars for the Irish market in the early eighties, but due to the cost of shipping the kits out to Ireland to be assembled, it was found to be cheaper to ship out whole cars from Europe.

  8. Hi Glenn do you remember the Sierra Tara? That was a Cork built special edition just before the Ford Cork plant closed, then the Dunlop factory next door, next was Irish Steel. 1980’s de-industrialization was painful everywhere.

    Yes a lot of later Cortinas were exported to Britain while the Cork Escorts generally stayed in Ireland. About the time of the Sierra the Cork plant became a single car plant, (the Sierra only.)
    In the 1960’s and 70’s the Irish Fords were an extremely basic car. You couldn’t get an Escort 1600cc from Cork as anything more than extreme basic was earmarked for export. Was it only the Irish Ford Escorts that had the Anglia speedometer?!

    The Cork Fords had the same Chassis/VIN prefix as the UK Fords, ‘SFAxxxx’ and the same rust. Toyotas were also assembled in Cork which were rotten after only a year old. The Waterford built Renaults seemed to be well rustproven for some reason.

    Anyhow back to the Hunter. When faced with the choice of an Irish assembled car only, because of protectionist policies, the Hunter was the King! I’ve heard stories of people buying Hunters from the factory gates and for quite a long time the Hunter was considered the one to have. More of the Irish Hunters were the 1500cc, like with Ford if you had the cheek to be wanting the bigger engine you were made to wait!

    Hillman generally always had a higher market penetration in Ireland which I think was due to the Rootes Group’s good transmissions. At the time a British car in Ireland was a good thing, anything else was considered foreign and not to be trusted.

    Another interesting point about the Irish market was that there was no gentleman’s agreement limiting the amount of Jap’s allowed to be imported. So as the 1970’s progressed with the removal of protectionist barriers with EEC membership (the Government just taxed the crap out of all cars instead!) the Japanese invasion became a flood in Ireland.

    Although the Hunter still sold well. There was something of the Japanese antidote about Rootes-Chryslers, they, in my highly biased opinion, were about the only British cars that could put it up to the Japanese.
    Pity pity pity the Avengers engine was not taken all the way to OHC.

    • Rootes based Chryslers like the Arrow and the Avenger tended to have durable engines and transmissions, and the 1500 and 1725 fitted to the Arrow were loved by the taxi market for their ability to take high mileages without many problems. Always busts the argument that British cars in the seventies were always unreliable and fault prone. Interestingly, they didn’t seem to rust like the later French based Chrysler models.

  9. Thanks for the info on the Irish car industry, I knew about the Ford Cork plant & the BMC assemblies, but not much else.

    Did Cork start producing cars even before Trafford Park did?

  10. I think they did Richard and Henry Ford only opened a plant in Cork because of family ties. The Ford family came from Cork so it was doing something for the auld sod sort of thing. It made no economic sense to open a car plant there although it is said that Dagenham was to be in Ireland.

    There was more industry in Ireland that is commonly assumed and Cork had a fair amount of both light and heavy industry. I am not from Cork myself so no, this is not a Cork stereotype of a proud (with a slight swagger as Cork people have) Corkonian going on about Cork ’twas did and dat!

    Ireland had a miniature car industry that was pretty much the British car industry in microcosm although Ireland had the dubious honour of assembling Japanese cars long before anywhere else. You might think they were rusproven for damp Ireland, hah!

    The Jap cars had a brilliant engine but were stone rotten and not great on bad roads because of the narrow track with leaf springs they generally ended up either being swept up after a couple of years or in a ditch.

    The leaf springs on the Hunters worked a lot better because of its size. It didn’t matter so much on a larger car.

    • Apart from assembling cars like the Chrysler Hunter from kits and exporting them back to Britain, Ireland in the seventies and early eighties had a successful producer of music centres and portable televisions called Waltham, who were priced at the budget end of the spectrum, but whose products were actually quite good for the price. My parents had a Waltham music centre that lasted 14 years and the sound quality was as good as a more expensive make.

  11. As far as badge engineering is concerned I think it made sense with the Arrow/Hunters. Some people would see a Hunter as a slow car but good at towing while others seen it as a quick Cortina alternative.
    The range of engines, 1500, 1725 LC iron head, 1725 HC alloy head and so-on was why it made sense to have 3 or 4 different badges.
    The Minx was the basic one but still had a bit of quality about it and made a good Taxi or farmers car that could take a lot of abuse.
    The Hunter was a good private middle class sale before the Hunter name was used for the whole range.
    So a Vogue or Sceptre mean’t the HC alloy headed 1725 which was made and priced for a different market than a 1500cc Minx. It identified that type of Arrow as the faster and more luxurious one.

    It just confused the ‘hunter’ image when Chrysler dropped the Rootes name on the dealers and ended the Singer brand. A Hunter in whatever trim was just a Hunter and that damaged its reputation and probably its sales too.
    The more coarse way that BMC used badge engineering was just silly in comparison as there wasn’t much of a difference with the engines state of tune with BMC’s upmarket brands.

  12. @ Pat, I do remember Ireland had a cottage car industry assembling anything from Datsuns to Fords from kits, due to the high tariffs on imports the country had. Also Ford Ireland must have made a bit of money exporting CKD versions of Cortinas back to Britain and the Chrysler Hunter, again mainly made from British parts, having a following as a taxi and a cheap family car in Britain.
    Ireland wasn’t all farming and Guinness in the seventies as people believe over here. I had a Waltham music centre made in Ireland that lasted 13 years and also used to find the bulk of cassettes came from the Republic. However, cheaper Asian competition killed off Waltham and a relaxation of tariffs saw the end of the Irish car assembly plants in the same way New Zealand’s kit car operations vanished with the end of high tariffs.

  13. @ Glenn there also was a big controversy when the Santry Rootes/Chrysler/Talbot plant shut.

    It was in the constituency of one Charles J Haughey (corruptus in extremeous) a politician who at the time of the Talbot closure was the Irish premiere.
    For a while, he put the entire ex-Talbot workforce on the States pay-roll which alarmed the taxpayer to a great extent. This was about the time Ireland went through a version of Britain’s 1974, three day week, power cuts, strikes and rioting while the Government flip-flopped from one Party to another inside the space of a few months.

    I don’t know if PSA were contacted regarding some sort of grant to keep that plant open but its probable that PSA were approached with the sweetner of the Irish 12% corporation tax to tempt PSA into investing.

    I don’t know the full details of the State ’employing’ the former Talbot workforce but it would seem that some in the Government were trying to part-nationalize Talbot’s Irish operation.
    So its possible that Hunter and Avenger production could have continued into the mid-1980’s.
    In the mid-1980’s Lada did quite well in the UK, I wonder could the Hunter and Avenger have taken that section of the market? They could have been produced at only slightly higher a price than a Lada I guess. After all the Avenger engine was still made in the UK in the mid-1980s for export to Iran so the economy of scale was already there.

    Generally though its funny how about everyone, even in Ireland itself, has forgotten that cars used to be made/assembled in Ireland!
    And yes they did rust just as badly as the British ones, if not worse!

  14. IIRC Hino lorries are assembled in Ireland.

    I remember my Mum had an Irish made Braun hair curler in the 1980s.

    I’ve seen 1 or 2 Computer accessories stamped Made In Ireland.

    Back O/T it would be interesting if the Hunter and Avenger had been kept in production a bit longer as an economy model. PSA we no strangers to keeping old models in production after a replacement had been launched.

  15. Yes Richard PSA were famous for overlapping old and new models. The P104 was still sold in France up until 1988 or so and its only fairly recently that the P504 & 505 went out of production in Nigeria.

    Apart from economics, I think the Hunter was too much competition for the 504 and remember that Hunters had 504 parts in the South African and Arabian or Iranian built Arrows.
    Likewise if Avengers and Sunbeams were still for sale in the Peugeot-Talbot dealers in 1984 they would have taken sales away from the P305 in the UK & Ireland and possibly in Europe too – although to a lesser extent. After all who would buy a Horizon over an Avenger?!
    As I mentioned before, it would appear that Chrysler planned to keep the Hunter in production after 1979. PSA probably took one look at how many Hunters were being sold in the African and Middle-Eastern markets and came to the obvious conclusion that the Hunter was taking 504 sales, so out came the knife. Before PSA even decided what new name to give the Chryslers they had it out for the Hunter.

    As for using the Irish plant to assemble the old Rootes models priced to compete with Lada’s and Skoda’s of the time, there was yet another hindsight advantage to keeping the Santry plant operating.
    In 1986 (and at this time the still built Avenger and Hunter’s would be looking way way out of date) the IR£ was devalued, so the exchange rate to Sterling at the time became £1stg to IR£1.30 so guess what would have happened…

    It would have mean’t that a Hunter could have been sold at the same price as a Lada!

    Arrgghh! All the crap there was on the roads at the time!

  16. My mate with the new, (early) 1975 Hunter did remark it was badged as a Hillman, but that it had plenty of Chrysler pentastars stamped around it and the dealer was also calling itself Chrysler by that time.
    I have some old car mags from the era and the national advertising is firmly split into 2 camps – ‘Chrysler Untied Kingdom’ and ‘Chrysler France’ for the Simcas.

    Interesting last point in the previous point – although the Hunter was at least one size larger than the Lada, so may not have been considered a rival in many punter’s minds.

    Incidently, those Ladas had some merits/customer appeal right into the early Eighties, (until VAZ mostly ruined things with the facelift Riva)- my Dad replaced his late Mk.2 Escort Estate with a 1500 one in ’84.

    Main reason was it being much sturdier, better rustproofed and did’nt break it’s back springs when towing – with the bonus of more power, headlights and heater worthy of the name, deeper seats and generally more equipment to help compensate for the retro looks, tedious heavy steering and less appealing gearchange.

  17. Ohhhh yes, the Hillman Hunter had been poduced in Iran since 1966 up to 2003 :)))) by the name of PAYKAN, all of my childhood passed by PAYKAN…

  18. Hi ! I still drive a Hillman Hunter 1725 Cc , was built in 1977,was imported brand new from U.k the chassis plate is stamped U.k. Am In Kenya( east Africa)

  19. I had a old gold coloured hillman hunter car with a horse transfer on the boot lid and it had a red fluffy material on the interior and the hand-brake was on the door side. there was something about the gears but I can’t remember. I think i had it 1980 / 1981. It was my first car and I think it cost about £100 + to buy
    Does anyone know anything about this car, it was my first car and I had Such Fun with it
    I’m doing something on Being Human and emotional objects, so can anyone help..

  20. The Chrysler Hunter was Chrysler’s answer to the Morris Ital, make a 10 year old car look a bit more modern, continue with the same proven engines, and price the car below its rivals. The old stager did continue to sell quite well during its three years as a Chysler and maybe some people who would have gone for an Alpine might have been tempted to buy a Hunter as it was cheaper and the engines were quieter. Also in 1725 Super form, you had a car that could go quite quickly and had an engine that was known for being durable and fairly quiet at speed.

  21. Never driven an Arrow but kind of like them. A schoolfriend test drove a nice metallic blue Humber Sceptre Auto with me along for the ride. It seemed nice but the deal didn’t go through.Maybe the garage where it was on sale didn’t fancy his hand painted, sh*t brown Toledo as P/X! I know I didn’t.
    I was sent to Blackpool on a Civil Service training course in the early 80’s. The minicab transport from Clevelys to Warbreck Hill every day was a diesel converted Minx. I wasn’t exactly keen to get to the training venue but was grateful to arrive there in one piece such was the ramshackle nature of our transport.

  22. My favourite original Arrow cars were the Humber Sceptre and Singer Vogue. Later the Hunter GT was probably the best. Definitely a good workhorse car

  23. My grandad bought a Hunter back in 72, by the time I was born in 77 it had rusted away!

  24. Can’t entirely see the point of having both the Singer Vogue and Singer Gazelle. How many people would buy the “slightly more premium badged” Singer version, and then opt for the smaller engined Gazelle?

  25. Lasted as long as the Marina/Ital and was simple, honest transport with some interesting sports and luxury versions, and the Rapier always looked cool and could easily keep up with a 2 litre Capri. A real shame when the Sunbeam brand was dropped and used on a small hatchback, although the Talbot Lotus Sunbeam was a spiritual successor to the Sunbeam sports cars of old.

  26. It is interesting to compare the Hillman Hunter / Rootes Arrow to the Isuzu Florian.

    Apart from the Hunter-derived Paykan and the Florian diesel respectively, Both were launched roughly the same time, were of similar dimensions, had unusually long production runs (before being replaced by successors from outside) and spawned saloon/estate/coupe/pick-up bodystyles with the possibility some of the Florian’s engines were even distantly related to the Minx OHV later used in the Hunter / Arrow (or at least drew upon the patents of Rootes).

  27. I remember in the early 80’s when my Dad’s V reg Cortina was out of action he “borrowed” a pool car from his workplace so that we could drive to Newcastle to see his family. He was a CID officer in the Metropolitan Police Force and the car was a undercover police Hunter. I remember the bloody thing hated the rain and kept on breaking down on the A1.

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