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 Rootes Group
Production 1932–70
Body and chassis
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 series of middle-sized family cars produced under the Hillman marque by the Rootes Group between 1932 and 1970. There have been many versions of the Minx over the years, as well as various badge-engineered versions sold under the Humber, Singer, and Sunbeam marques.

For most of the 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 there was also a short-wheelbase estate, the Hillman Husky, and a van derivative known as the Commer Cob.

The Minx brand was revived briefly – along with the "Rapier" model 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[edit]

Hillman Minx 1932: the early Minx was a conservatively designed car

The original Minx was introduced in 1932 with a pressed-steel body on separate chassis and 30 bhp 1185 cc engine. It was upgraded with a four-speed transmission in 1934 and a styling upgrade, most noticeably a slightly V-shaped grille. For 1935, synchromesh was added but the range was otherwise similar.

The 1936 model got a new name, the Minx Magnificent, and a restyle with much more rounded body. The chassis was stiffened and the engine moved forwards to give more passenger room. The rear panel, hitherto vertical, was now set at a sloping angle, and the manufacturers offered the option of a folding luggage grid which could be attached to the rear panel and was available for "two pounds, seven shillings and sixpence" (slightly under £2.40) painted.[2] 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.

Wartime Minx[edit]

During the Second World War, British car companies produced simple Utility load carriers, the Car, Light Utility or "Tilly". 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[edit]


Minx Mark I to VIII (1945-1957)[edit]

Hillman Minx Mark I to VIII
Hillman Minx Special 4-D Saloon.jpg
Hillman Minx Mark VIII 4-Door Saloon
Overview
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Production 1945-1956
Assembly United Kingdom
Japan (by Isuzu)[3]
Australia [4]
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
3 door estate
2 door convertible
2 door hardtop
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). Between 1947 and 1948 a modified version, known as the Minx Mark II was offered.

A much more modern looking Minx, badged as the Mark III, was sold from 1948. This was the first Minx with a protruding boot / trunk which effectively respected the Ponton, three-box design by then replacing the 'flat back' look, inherited from models that had made their debut in the 1930s. 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 Mark IV Minx, to 1265 cc, and power output increased by 7% to 37.5 bhp (28.0 kW).[5] 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 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £505 including taxes, the price including radio (£36), over-riders (£5) and heater (£18).[5]

Further minor facelifts followed. In 1953, with the Minx Mark VI, a fourth body variation was added, being the so-called 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.[6] The wheelbase and overall length of the car remained the same as those of the four-door saloon and convertible permutations. For the Mark VIII, in 1954, a new ohv 1390 cc engine was installed. This was the engine which, two years later, would be carried over into the first of the new "Audax series" Minxes.

For a short time in the early 1950s Hillman Minxes were sold in the USA to Americans seeking better gas mileage. The reviews of the vehicle in the US were lukewarm.[7] Between 1953 and 1956 the Mark VI to Mark VIII Isuzu Hillman Minx was produced in Japan by Isuzu Motors,[8][9] prior to their 1961 introduction of the Bellel.[3]


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

Hillman Minx Series I to Series VI
Hillman Minx Series IIIC.jpg
Hillman Minx Series IIIC
Overview
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Also called Sunbeam Minx[10]
Humber 80[11]
Production 1956-1967
Assembly United Kingdom
Japan[3]
Australia[12]
New Zealand[11]
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
Successor Hillman 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. The car went through a series of annual face lifts each given a Series number, replacing the Mark number used on the previous Minxes; there was no Series IV. The engine was new for the model with overhead valves – a first for a post war Hillman. Over the years the engine grew 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 II used a Lockheed Manumatic two pedal system (really only a semi-automatic), the Mark III a Smiths Easidrive and the V/VI a Borg Warner.

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 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £794 including taxes of £265.[13]

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, as a way to secure scarce additional import licences for CKD assembly kits. Although the 90 was identical to the Super Minx, the cheaper 80 could be spotted by 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, the first of the series V vehicles fitted with all-syncro gearboxes was known locally as the series Va. This little-known fact is rarely referenced within Australia and virtually unknown elsewhere.

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.[9] Isuzu produced their own unique estate car version, the Isuzu Hillman Express, from 1958 to 1964.[14]


Super Minx (1961 to 1967)[edit]

1965 Hillman Super Minx

Launched late in 1961, the Hillman Super Minx was intended at one stage to replace the Minx Series III.[15] 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 to 1970)[edit]

Hillman New Minx
Hillman Minx Arrow type near Biggleswade.JPG
Hillman New Minx
Overview
Manufacturer Rootes Group
Also called Sunbeam Minx [16]
Production 1967 - 1970
Assembly United Kingdom
Body and chassis
Body style 4 door saloon
4 door estate
Related Hillman Hunter
Singer New Gazelle
Powertrain
Engine 1496cc I4
1725cc I4
Chronology
Predecessor Hillman Minx Series VI
Successor Hillman Hunter

A replacement Minx (sometimes identified, retrospectively, as the New Minx) took over from the Super Minx in 1967. It was a reduced specification version of the Hillman Hunter.[17] Saloon and estate versions were produced, initially equipped with a 54 bhp 1496 cc 4 cylinder engine.[17] A 61 bhp 1725cc engine became available in 1968.[18] The final Minx was replaced by a Hillman Hunter De Luxe model in 1970.[18]

Models[edit]

Type Year Engine Approx Production Body types Wheelbase[19] Max speed Notes
Minx 1932–33 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a tourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé 92 in (2,337 mm) 62 mph (100 km/h) 3-speed gearbox, Bendix brakes, wire wheels
Minx 1934 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a tourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé 92 in (2,337 mm) 62 mph (100 km/h) 4-speed gearbox
Minx 1935 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a tourer, sports tourer, 4 light saloon, 6 light saloon, drophead coupé 92 in (2,337 mm) 62 mph (100 km/h) Synchromesh gearbox
Minx Magnificent 1936–37 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a tourer, 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 Minx 1938–39 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a saloon, drophead coupé, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 62 mph (100 km/h) Styling update
Minx 1940–44 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve n/a saloon, drophead coupé 93 in (2,362 mm) 62 mph (100 km/h) Unitary construction, 12-volt, rear hinged bonnet, probably no coupés made
Car, Light Utility, Hillman 10HP 1940–45 4 cyl. 30 bhp (22 kW) engine 1185 cc sv Utility body (also Saloon, "Convertible Van" "Ladder Van") 151 in (3,835 mm) Six Marks, pickup bodies with integral cab
Minx Mark I 1945–47 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 60,000 (estimated including Mark II)[20] saloon, drophead coupé, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 63 mph (101 km/h) Unitary construction, 12-volt, rear-hinged bonnet
Minx Mark II 1947–48 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve see Mark I saloon, drophead coupé, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 66 mph (106 km/h) Styling update: faired in headlamps, hydraulic brakes
Minx Mark III 1948–49 1185 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 28,619[20] saloon, convertible, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 70 mph (110 km/h) New styling, independent front suspension
Minx Mark IV 1949–51 1265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 90,832[20] saloon, convertible, estate, pickup/utility 93 in (2,362 mm) 68 mph (109 km/h) Styling as Mark III
Minx Mark V 1951–53 1265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 59,777[20] saloon, convertible, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 73 mph (117 km/h) Minor changes
Minx Mark VI 1953 1265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 44,643[20] saloon, convertible, 'California' coupé, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 70 mph (110 km/h) New grille
Minx Mark VII 1953–54 1265 cc 4-cylinder side-valve 60,711[20] saloon, convertible, coupé, estate 93 in (2,362 mm) 69 mph (111 km/h) Bigger boot
Minx Mark VIII 1954–57 1390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve 94,123[20] saloon, convertible, coupé, estate, pickup/coupé utility [21] 93 in (2,362 mm) 74 mph (119 km/h) 15-inch wheels; early examples have previous engine
Minx Series I 1956–57 1390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve 202,204[20] saloon, convertible, estate 96 in (2,438 mm) 78 mph (126 km/h) New body designed by Raymond Loewy, reminiscent of his 1955 Studebaker
Minx Series II 1957–58 1390 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve saloon, convertible, estate 96 in (2,438 mm) 78 mph (126 km/h) Minor styling change
Minx Series III 1958–59 1494 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve 83,105[20] saloon, convertible, estate 96 in (2,438 mm) 77 mph (124 km/h) New grille
Minx Series IIIA, B 1959–60, 60–61 1494 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve 78,052
and 58,260[20]
saloon, convertible, estate 96 in (2,438 mm) 80 mph (130 km/h) Tail fins; optional auto; hypoid rear axle on IIIB
Minx Series IIIC 1961–63 1592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon, convertible, estate 96 in (2,438 mm) 78 mph (126 km/h) No convertibles after mid 1962
Super Minx Series I 1961–62 1592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon, convertible, estate 101 in (2,565 mm) 82 mph (132 km/h) Long wheelbase Minx
Minx Series V 1963–65 1592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon 96 in (2,438 mm) 77 mph (124 km/h) Front discs
Super Minx Series II 1962–63 1592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon, convertible, estate 101 in (2,565 mm) 82 mph (132 km/h) Front discs
Super Minx Series III 1964–65 1592 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon 101 in (2,565 mm) 81 mph (130 km/h) All synchromesh gearbox
Minx Series VI 1965–67 1725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon 96 in (2,438 mm) 82 mph (132 km/h) All synchromesh gearbox
Super Minx Series IV 1964–65 1725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve n/a saloon 101 in (2,565 mm) 82 mph (132 km/h)
Hunter 1966–79 1725 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve 470,000[20] saloon, estate 98 in (2,489 mm) 90 mph (140 km/h) "Arrow" series shape, optional overdrive
New Minx 1967–70 1496 cc 4-cylinder overhead-valve saloon, estate 98 in (2,489 mm) 83 mph (134 km/h) Basic "Arrow" Hunter; 1725 cc engine optional on estates

References[edit]

  1. ^ Commer Mark IV Retrieved from www.sa.hillman.org.au on 31 July 2012
  2. ^ Vanderveen, Bart H. (1973). British Cars of the Late Thirties 1935–1939 (Olyslager Auto Library). London and New York: Frederick Warne. ISBN 0-7232-1712-2. 
  3. ^ a b c Murkin, Andy. "Isuzu Hillman Minxes". Andy's Hillman Homepage. Retrieved 2012-08-28. 
  4. ^ Gavin Farmer, Great Ideas In Motion, 2010, page 266
  5. ^ a b "The Hillman Minx Road Test". The Motor. 1949. 
  6. ^ Gloor, Roger (1. Auflage 2007). Alle Autos der 50er Jahre 1945–1960. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-613-02808-1. 
  7. ^ "Report on the Hillman Minx" Popular Mechanics, January 1953, pp. 112-115/260
  8. ^ “The History of Anglo-Japanese relations, 1600-2000” Edited by Janet E. Hunter and Shinya Sugiyama : Volume IV, Chapter 6 - A case study of Anglo-Japanese cooperation in the motor vehicle industry: Ishikawajima, Wolseley, Isuzu and Rootes
  9. ^ a b "Isuzu Memorial 1953 -2003", Yaesu Publishing (Japan) 2008
  10. ^ Sunbeam Minx Retrieved from www.sunbeam.org.au on 6 August 2012
  11. ^ a b Evans, David (April 2012). "Fiberfab stars at Brit car day". Classic & Sports Car (Teddington, Middlesex, UK: Haymarket): 26. ISSN 0263-3183. 
  12. ^ Rootes (Australia) Limited advertisement for Hillman Minx, Modern Motor magazine, July 1957
  13. ^ "The Hillman Minx Series III". The Motor. 1  October 1958. 
  14. ^ Isuzu Hillman Minx factory brochures from 1959,1960,1962
  15. ^ "Moderation in all things. The philosophy of the Hillman Minx". Motor: pages Rootes owners' supplement 25–29. 27 January 1968. 
  16. ^ French market Sunbeam Minx brochure cover Retrieved from www.flickr.com on 6 August 2012
  17. ^ a b Michael Sedgwich & Markes Gillies, A-Z of Cars 1945-1970, page 90
  18. ^ a b Smart new clothes Retrieved from www.rootes-chrysler.co.uk on 31 July 2012
  19. ^ Culshaw; Horrobin (1974). Complete Catalogue of British Cars. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-16689-2. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Robson, Graham (2006). A to Z British cars 1945–1980. Devon, UK: Herridge. ISBN 0-9541063-9-3. 
  21. ^ Hillman & Commer Mark VIII Light Pick-up (utility) Retrieved from www.sa.hillman.org.au on 31 July 2012

External links[edit]