Hillman Minx

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Hillman Minx
Hillman Minx Series V 1592 cc first registered March 1964.JPG
Hillman Minx Series V
Overview
Manufacturer Hillman (Rootes Group)
Production1931–70
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size / Large family car (D)
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
2-door standard estate
2-door short wheelbase estate
2-door van
2-door coupé utility [1]
Chronology
Predecessor Hillman 14
Successor Hillman Hunter
Hillman Avenger

The Hillman Minx was a mid-sized family car that British car maker Hillman produced from 1931 to 1970. There were many versions of the Minx over that period, as well as badge-engineered variants sold by Humber, Singer, and Sunbeam.

Contents

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, the Minx and its derivatives were the greatest-volume sellers of the "Audax" family of cars from Rootes, which also included the Singer Gazelle and Sunbeam Rapier. The final version of the Minx was the "New Minx" launched in 1967, which was part of the "Arrow" family and essentially a basic version of the Hillman Hunter. Generally, the Minx was available in four-door saloon and estate forms, with a 1496-cc engine.

The Hillman Super Minx was a slightly larger model offered during the Audax era.

Throughout the life of the Minx, there was usually an estate version—and, from 1954 to 1965, a short-wheelbase estate, the Hillman Husky, and a van derivative known as the Commer Cob.

The Minx model name was revived briefly – along with the "Rapier" name, as applied to the Sunbeam Rapier version of the Audax family – as a special edition late in the life of the Talbot Alpine / Talbot Solara cars, produced by Chrysler Europe after its takeover of the Rootes Group.

Pre-WWII Minx

Hillman Minx 1932
Hillman Minx 1124cc first reg December 1932.JPG
Hillman Minx 1932: the early Minx was a conservatively designed car

The original Minx was announced to the forewarned (in August) public 1 October 1931. [2] It was straightforward and conventional [3] with a pressed-steel body on separate chassis and 30 bhp 1185 cc engine producing cushioned power. [note 1] It was upgraded with a four-speed transmission in 1934 and a styling upgrade, most noticeably a slightly V-shaped grille. For 1935 the range was similar except that synchromesh was added to all forward gears and this Minx became the first mass-produced car with an all synchromesh gearbox. [4] it was designed by Rootes' technical director Captain John Samuel Irving (1880-1953) designer of Sunbeam aero engines and Sunbeam's Golden Arrow in conjunction with Alfred Herbert Wilde, (1891-1930) recently chief engineer of Standard and designer of the Standard Nine. [3]

The 1936 model had a new name, the Minx Magnificent, and a restyle with a much more rounded body. The chassis was stiffened and the engine moved forwards to give more passenger room. The rear panel, previously vertical, was now set at a sloping angle, and the manufacturers offered the option of a folding luggage grid attached to the rear panel for "two pounds, seven shillings and sixpence" (slightly under £2.40) painted. [5] A Commer-badged estate car was added to the range.

The final pre-war model was the 1938 Minx. There were no more factory-built tourers but some were made by Carbodies. The car was visually similar to the Magnificent, with a different grille, and access to the luggage boot (trunk) was external (that on the predecessor was accessed by folding down the rear seat). There were two saloon models in the range, the basic "Safety" model with simple rexine trim instead of leather, no opening front quarterlights, and less luxurious trim levels. The De Luxe model had leather trim, opening quarterlights, extra trim pads, and various other comfort benefits. The 1938 model was not the final iteration before the outbreak of war, however, as the 1939 model was considerably different mechanically, with virtually the entire drivetrain improved to the extent that few parts are interchangeable with the 1938 model. This includes gearbox, differential, half shafts, steering box, and a great many other mechanical and cosmetic changes. Even the front grille, which to the casual eye looks almost identical to the 1938 model, became a pressed alloy component rather than a composite.

RAF staff car Hillman Minx.jpg
RAF staff car

Wartime Minx

During the Second World War, British car companies produced simple Utility load carriers, the Car, Light Utility or "Tilly" which was later developed into the experimental Hillman Gnat. For Hillman it was the Hillman 10HP, a Minx chassis with two-person cab and covered load area behind. The basic saloon was also produced for military and essential civilian use from 1940 to 1944.

Operators

Minx Mark I to VIII (1945–57)

Hillman Minx Mark I to VIII
Hillman Minx Special 4-D Saloon.jpg
Hillman Minx Mark VIII 4-Door Saloon
Overview
Also calledHillman Estate Car [6]
Humber 10 [7]
Humber 80 (New Zealand)
Production1945–56
Assembly Ryton-on-Dunsmore, UK
Ōmori, Japan (by Isuzu) [8]
Port Melbourne, Australia [9]
Todd Industries Ltd, Petone, Wellington, New Zealand
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
3-door estate
2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
2-door coupé utility [10]
Related Hillman Husky
Commer Light Pick-up
Commer Express Delivery Van
Commer Cob
Powertrain
Engine
  • 1,185 cc I4
  • 1,265 cc I4
  • 1,390 cc I4

The Minx sold between 1945 and 1947 had the same 1185 cc side-valve engine, the same wheelbase and virtually the same shape as the prewar Minx. This postwar Minx became known as the Minx Mark I (or Minx Phase I). This was the first Minx with a protruding boot (trunk) that nodded to the Ponton, three-box design by then replacing the 'flat back' look, inherited from models that had debuted in the 1930s. Between 1947 and 1948, Hillman offered a modified version they called the Minx Mark II.

A much more modern looking Minx, the Mark III, was sold from 1948. Three different body styles were offered initially, these being saloon, estate car and drophead coupé (convertible). Beneath the metal, however, and apart from updated front suspension, little had changed: the Mark III retained the 1185 cc side-valve engine of its predecessor. Claimed power output, at 35 bhp (26.1 kW), was also unchanged. However, in 1949 the old engine was bored out and compression ratio increased, for the Minx Mark IV, to 1265 cc, and power output increased by 7 per cent to 37.5 bhp (28.0 kW). [11] A Mark IV saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1949 had a top speed of 67 mph (108 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 39.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 32.1 miles per imperial gallon (8.8 L/100 km; 26.7 mpgUS) was recorded. The test car cost £505 including taxes, the price including radio (£36), over-riders (£5) and heater (£18). [11]

The Mark V, introduced in 1951, featured side chromium trim and a floor mounted handbrake. [12]

The Mark VI of 1953 featured a new grille, revised combustion chambers and a two-spoke steering wheel. [12] A fourth body variation was added, badged as the Hillman Minx Californian, a two-door hard-top coupé with, slightly unusually, a b-pillar that wound down out of sight along with the rear side window to give an unbroken window line when all windows were fully opened: the rear window assembly was of a three-piece wrap-around form. [13] The wheelbase and overall length of the car remained the same as those of the four-door saloon and convertible permutations. The Mark VII, also introduced in 1953, featured longer rear mudguards and a bigger boot. [12] For the Mark VIII, in 1954, a new ohv 1390 cc engine was installed. This engine, two years later, went into the first of the new "Audax series" Minxes.

For a short time in the early 1950s, Hillman Minxes were sold in the US to Americans seeking better gas mileage. American reviews of the vehicle were lukewarm. [14] Between 1953 and 1956 the Mark VI to Mark VIII Isuzu Hillman Minx was produced in Japan by Isuzu Motors, [15] [16] prior to their 1961 introduction of the Bellel. [8]

A 2-door coupé utility variant of the Minx Mark VIII was produced by Rootes Australia as the Hillman de luxe Utility, circa 1956. [10]

Audax design Hillman Minx (Series I to Series VI, 1956–67)

Hillman Minx Series I to Series VI
Hillman Minx Series IIIC.jpg
Hillman Minx Series IIIC Saloon
Overview
Also calledSunbeam Minx [17]
Humber 80 [18]
Production1956–67
Assembly Ryton-on-Dunsmore, UK
Ōmori, Japan [8]
Port Melbourne, Australia [19]
New Zealand [18]
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
2-door convertible
4-door estate
Related Commer Cob
Hillman Gazelle
Hillman Husky
Singer Gazelle
Sunbeam Rapier
Powertrain
Engine 1,390 cc I4
1,494 cc I4
1,592 cc I4
1,725 cc I4
Chronology
SuccessorHillman New Minx

The Audax body was designed by the Rootes Group, but helped by the Raymond Loewy design organisation, who were involved in the design of Studebaker coupés in 1953. Announced in May 1956 [20] the car went through a succession of annual face lifts each given a series number, replacing the mark number used on the previous Minxes. The Series I, introduced in 1956, was followed by the Series II in 1957, the Series III in 1958, the Series IIIA in 1959, the Series IIIB in 1960, the Series IIIC in 1961, the Series V in 1963 and the Series VI in 1965. [21] There was no Series IV. Over the years the engine was increased in capacity from 1390 cc (in the Series I and II) to 1725 cc in the Series VI. A variety of manual transmissions, with column or floor change, and automatic transmissions were offered. For the automatic version, the Series I and Series II used a Lockheed Manumatic two pedal system (really only a semi-automatic), the Series III a Smiths Easidrive and the V/VI a Borg Warner. The Series VI was fitted with an all-synchromesh gearbox. [22]

A Series III deLuxe saloon with 1494 cc engine tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1958 had a top speed of 76.9 mph (123.8 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 25.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.8 miles per imperial gallon (8.9 L/100 km; 26.5 mpgUS) was recorded. The test car cost £794 including taxes of £265. [23]

There were Singer Gazelle and Sunbeam Rapier variants of all these Hillman Minx models, and the names were again used on derivatives in the later Rootes Arrow range. Some models were re-badged in certain markets, with the Sunbeam and Humber marques used for some exports.

The New Zealand importer/assembler Todd Motors created the Humber 80 and Humber 90, badge-engineered models based respectively on the Minx and Super Minx, both as a way to secure scarce additional import licences for CKD assembly kits and to give Humber dealers a smaller car to sell alongside the locally assembled Hawk and Super Snipe. Although the 90 was aidentical to the Super Minx part from badging, the cheaper 80 featured a horizontal bar grille design. The Humber 80 was acknowledged in the 1980s Roger Hall play Prisoners of Mother England, in which a newly arrived immigrant in New Zealand spots one and exclaims: "Humber 80? There's no such car!"

In Australia a Series Va model was released in 1965. [24] It was fitted with a more powerful 1592cc engine and the all-synchromesh gearbox destined for the forthcoming Series VI model. [24]

The Audax Minx was also built in Japan by Isuzu Motors as the Isuzu Hillman Minx under licence from Rootes between September 1956 and June 1964. [16] Isuzu produced their own unique estate car version, the Isuzu Hillman Express, from 1958 to 1964. [25]

Super Minx (1961–67)

Hillman Super Minx
Hillman Super Minx 1725cc May 1966.JPG
Hillman Super Minx Mark IV Saloon

Launched late in 1961, the Hillman Super Minx was intended at one stage to replace the Minx Series III. [26] In the event the Series III would be replaced in 1963 by the Series V, while the Super Minx was launched as a separate, albeit closely related, model.

New Minx (1967–70)

Hillman New Minx
Hillman Minx registered July 1967 1496cc.JPG
Hillman New Minx
Overview
Also calledSunbeam Minx [27]
Production1967–70
AssemblyUnited Kingdom
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
4-door estate
Related Hillman Hunter
Singer New Gazelle
Powertrain
Engine 1496 cc I4
1725 cc I4
Chronology
PredecessorHillman Minx Series VI
Successor Hillman Hunter

A replacement Minx (sometimes identified, retrospectively, as the New Minx) took over from the Series VI in 1967. It was a reduced specification version of the Hillman Hunter. [28] Saloon and estate versions were produced, initially equipped with a 54 bhp 1496 cc 4 cylinder engine. [28] A 61 bhp 1725cc engine became available in 1968. [29] The final Minx was replaced by a Hillman Hunter De Luxe model in 1970. [29]

Models

TypeYearEngineApprox ProductionBody typesWheelbase [30] Max speedNotes
Minx1932–331185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/atourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé92 in (2,337 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)3-speed gearbox, Bendix brakes, wire wheels
Minx19341185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/atourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé92 in (2,337 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)4-speed gearbox
Minx19351185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/atourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé92 in (2,337 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)Synchromesh gearbox
Minx Magnificent1936–371185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/atourer, sports tourer, saloon, drophead coupé, estate (1937)93 in (2,362 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)New chassis with engine moved forwards; pressed steel wheels
New Minx1938–391185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/asaloon, drophead coupé, estate93 in (2,362 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)Styling update
Minx1940–441185 cc 4-cylinder side-valven/asaloon, drophead coupé93 in (2,362 mm)62 mph (100 km/h)Unitary construction, 12-volt, rear hinged bonnet, probably no coupés made
Car, Light Utility, Hillman 10HP1940–454 cyl. 30 bhp (22 kW) engine 1185 cc svUtility body (also Saloon, "Convertible Van" "Ladder Van")151 in (3,835 mm)Six Marks, pickup bodies with integral cab
Minx Mark I1945–471185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve60,000 (estimated including Mark II) [31] saloon, drophead coupé, estate93 in (2,362 mm)63 mph (101 km/h)Unitary construction, 12-volt, rear-hinged bonnet
Minx Mark II1947–481185 cc 4-cylinder side-valvesee Mark Isaloon, drophead coupé, estate93 in (2,362 mm)66 mph (106 km/h)Styling update: faired in headlamps, hydraulic brakes
Minx Mark III1948–491185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve28,619 [31] saloon, convertible, estate93 in (2,362 mm)70 mph (110 km/h)New styling, independent front suspension
Minx Mark IV1949–511265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve90,832 [31] saloon, convertible, estate, pickup/utility93 in (2,362 mm)68 mph (109 km/h)Styling as Mark III
Minx Mark V1951–531265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve59,777 [31] saloon, convertible, estate93 in (2,362 mm)73 mph (117 km/h)Minor changes
Minx Mark VI19531265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve44,643 [31] saloon, convertible, 'California' coupé, estate93 in (2,362 mm)70 mph (110 km/h)New grille
Minx Mark VII1953–541265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve60,711 [31] saloon, convertible, coupé, estate93 in (2,362 mm)69 mph (111 km/h)Bigger boot
Minx Mark VIII1954–571390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve94,123 [31] saloon, convertible, coupé, estate, pickup/coupé utility [32] 93 in (2,362 mm)74 mph (119 km/h)15-inch wheels; early examples have previous engine
Minx Series I1956–571390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve202,204 [31] saloon, convertible, estate96 in (2,438 mm)78 mph (126 km/h)New body designed by Raymond Loewy, reminiscent of his 1955 Studebaker
Minx Series II1957–581390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valvesaloon, convertible, estate96 in (2,438 mm)78 mph (126 km/h)Minor styling change
Minx Series III1958–591494 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve83,105 [31] saloon, convertible, estate96 in (2,438 mm)77 mph (124 km/h)New grille
Minx Series IIIA, B1959–60, 60–611494 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve78,052
and 58,260 [31]
saloon, convertible, estate96 in (2,438 mm)80 mph (130 km/h)Tail fins; optional auto; hypoid rear axle on IIIB
Minx Series IIIC1961–631592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon, convertible, estate96 in (2,438 mm)78 mph (126 km/h)No convertibles after mid 1962
Super Minx Series I1961–621592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon, convertible, estate101 in (2,565 mm)82 mph (132 km/h)Long wheelbase Minx
Minx Series V1963–651592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon96 in (2,438 mm)77 mph (124 km/h)Front discs
Super Minx Series II1962–631592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon, convertible, estate101 in (2,565 mm)82 mph (132 km/h)Front discs
Super Minx Series III1964–651592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon101 in (2,565 mm)81 mph (130 km/h)All synchromesh gearbox revised "C" post
Minx Series VI1965–671725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon96 in (2,438 mm)82 mph (132 km/h)All synchromesh gearbox
Super Minx Series IV1964–651725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valven/asaloon101 in (2,565 mm)82 mph (132 km/h)
Hunter1966–791725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve470,000 [31] saloon, estate98 in (2,489 mm)90 mph (140 km/h)"Arrow" series shape, optional overdrive
New Minx1967–701496 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valvesaloon, estate98 in (2,489 mm)83 mph (134 km/h)Basic "Arrow" Hunter; 1725 cc engine optional on estates

Scale Models

Note

  1. Instead of being bolted firmly to the chassis the engine was mounted so that it could rock from side to side restricted by a leaf spring.

Related Research Articles

Rootes Group

The Rootes Group or Rootes Motors Limited was a British automobile manufacturer and, separately, a major motor distributors and dealers business. Run from London's West End, the manufacturer was based in the Midlands and the distribution and dealers business in the south of England. In the decade beginning 1928 the Rootes brothers, William and Reginald, made prosperous by their very successful distribution and servicing business, were keen to enter manufacturing for closer control of the products they were selling. One brother has been termed the power unit, the other the steering and braking system.

Hillman

Hillman is a British automobile marque created by the Hillman Motor Car Company, founded in 1907. The company was based in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, near Coventry, England. Before 1907 the company had built bicycles. Newly under the control of the Rootes brothers, the Hillman company was acquired by Humber in 1928. Hillman was used as the small car marque of Humber Limited from 1931, but until 1937 Hillman did continue to sell large cars. The Rootes brothers reached a sixty per cent holding of Humber in 1932 which they retained until 1967, when Chrysler bought Rootes and bought out the other forty per cent of shareholders in Humber. The marque continued to be used under Chrysler until 1976.

Rootes Arrow Motor vehicle

Rootes Arrow was the manufacturer's name for a range of cars produced under several badge-engineered marques by the Rootes Group from 1966 to 1979. It is amongst the last Rootes designs, developed with no influence from future owner Chrysler. The range is almost always referred to by the name of the most prolific model, the Hillman Hunter.

Hillman Imp Motor vehicle

The Hillman Imp is a small economy car that was made by the Rootes Group and its successor Chrysler Europe from 1963 until 1976. Revealed on 3 May 1963, after much advance publicity, it was the first British mass-produced car with the engine block and cylinder head cast in aluminium.

Commer

Commer was a British manufacturer of commercial vehicles from 1905 until 1979. Commer vehicles included car-derived vans, light vans, medium to heavy commercial trucks, military vehicles and buses. The company also designed and built some of its own diesel engines for its heavy commercial vehicles.

Chrysler Europe

Chrysler Europe was the American automotive company Chrysler's operations in Europe from 1967 through 1979. It was formed from the merger of the French Simca, British Rootes and Spanish Barreiros companies. In 1979, Chrysler divested these operations to PSA Peugeot Citroën.

Humber Limited

Humber Limited was a British manufacturer of bicycles, motorcycles and motor vehicles incorporated and listed on the stock exchange in 1887. It took the name Humber & Co Limited because of the high reputation of the products of one of the constituent businesses that had belonged to Thomas Humber. A financial reconstruction in 1899 transferred its business to Humber Limited.

Hillman Husky

The Hillman Husky was a line of British passenger vehicles manufactured between 1954 and 1970 by Hillman.

Singer Gazelle Motor vehicle

The Singer Gazelle name has been applied to two generations of motor cars from the British manufacturer Singer. It was positioned between the basic Hillman range and the more sporting Sunbeam versions.

Humber Sceptre Motor vehicle

The Humber Sceptre is an automobile which was produced in the United Kingdom from 1963 to 1976 by Humber.

Sunbeam Rapier Motor vehicle

The Sunbeam Rapier is an automobile produced by Rootes Group from 1955 to 1976, in two different body-styles, the "Series" cars and the later (1967–76) fastback shape, part of the "Arrow" range.

Humber Super Snipe Motor vehicle

The Humber Super Snipe is a car which was produced from 1938 to 1967 by British-based Humber Limited.

The Singer Vogue name has been applied to two generations of motor cars from the British manufacturer Singer.

Humber Hawk Motor vehicle

The Humber Hawk is a four-cylinder automobile manufactured from 1945 to 1967 by British-based Humber Limited.

Sunbeam-Talbot

Sunbeam-Talbot Limited was a British motor manufacturing business. It built upmarket sports-saloon versions of Rootes Group cars from 1935 to 1954. As Clément-Talbot Limited it had made Talbot cars since 1902.

Hillman Super Minx

The Hillman Super Minx is a family car which was produced by Hillman from 1961 to 1967. It was a slightly larger version of the Hillman Minx, from the period when the long-running Minx nameplate was applied to the "Audax" series of designs.

Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Motor vehicle

The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 is an automobile which was produced and built by Sunbeam-Talbot from 1948 to 1954 and continued as the Sunbeam Mk III from 1954 to 1957.

Hillman 14 Motor vehicle

The Hillman Fourteen is a medium-sized 4-cylinder car announced by Hillman's managing director Spencer Wilks, a son-in-law of William Hillman, at the end of September 1925. This new Fourteen substantially increased Hillman's market share and remained on sale into 1931. During this time it was the main product of the company.

Isuzu Hillman Minx

The Isuzu Hillman Minx was a series of middle-sized family cars produced by Isuzu Motors in Japan under licence from the Rootes Group between 1953 and 1964. The models were broadly equivalent to the Hillman Minx Mark VI to Mk VIII and Series 1 to Series 3A produced at the same time in the UK, although some notable divergence occurred in the later years as production became localised in Japan.

Hillman 20 Motor vehicle

The Hillman Wizard 75, Hillman Twenty 70, Hillman Hawk and their long wheelbase variants Hillman Seven Seater and Hillman 80 models were a series of 20 horsepower medium priced 5-7 seater executive cars made by Hillman during the 1930s.

References

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  2. Cars Of 1932. The Times, Thursday, Oct 01, 1931; pg. 7; Issue 45942
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  7. 1950 Humber 10, The 27th British Car Day, www.leylandp76club.org.nz Retrieved 1 August 2015
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  22. Hillman Minx Series VI, www.motorbase.com Retrieved 24 October 2017
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  24. 1 2 Hillman Minx Series V & VI and Hillman Gazelle, www.sa.hillman.org.au Retrieved 24 October 2017
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  27. French market Sunbeam Minx brochure cover Retrieved from www.flickr.com on 6 August 2012
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  32. Hillman & Commer Mark VIII Light Pick-up (utility) Retrieved from www.sa.hillman.org.au on 31 July 2012
  33. Ramsey, John. The Swapmeet and Toyfair Catalogue of British Diecast Model Toys. Swapmeet Toys and Models Ltd. p. 30. ISBN   095093190X.
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