Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The Hillman Minx made its first appearance in 1932, however there would be many different versions to carry the name through the coming decades, and plenty of badge-engineered versions which were sold under the Humber
The original iteration used a pressed steel body on seperate chassis, and was powered by a 30bhp 1185cc engine. The 3 speed transmission
was upgraded to a 4 speed unit in 1934, along with a mild makeover, the most obvious of which was the "V" shaped grille.
In 1936 the Minx was again re-styled and now featured a much more rounded body. It also went a little upmarket in the name stakes, it being marketed as the "Magnificent". Engineering improvements included the stiffening of the body, and moving the engine further forward in the chassis to allow greater passenger room.
The last model to be released before the war was the 1938 "New Minx", similar to the Magnificent although the designers incorporated a seperate rear opening to gain access to the rear storage compartment, rather than use its predecessors access via the rear seat. The immediate post-war model was much the same as the earlier iteration, and was known as the Mark I.
The Mark II followed in 1947, and a significant makeover was completed in 1948 for the release of the Mark III, the main feature being the integration of a proper boot rather than the the pre-war tradition of having a flat-back set-up. In 1949 the Mark IV was released, the main modification occuring under the hood, with the engine being bored out to 1265cc.
The Mark V soon followed, and in 1953
with the Mark VI a coupe body style was introduced as the Hillman Minx Californian. 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.
Audax Bodied Hillman Minx
The Raymond Loewy design organisation developed the Audax body style for the Rootes group, after their success with Studebaker
coupes in 1953
The sedan version was launched in 1956
, while the Estate followed the release of the popular Humber Hawk saloon mid 1957
. Both iterations were mechanically identical - except for final drive ratio and suspension
details - the estate bearing a strong family likeness to its stable companions. A then new Burman steering
gear was used, the track-rod passing behind the engine, this then being connected by swing levets and short push-and-pull rods to the stub axles.
Leathercloth was used for the upholstery, and used attractive contrasting piping. The front seat was adjustable for legroom, although there were no armrests fitted. The floor of the passenger compartment was covered with rubber matting on felt, and beneath this was a sound-deadening material. The headlining was a washable, light-coloured plastic material. A roof lamp was placed centrally over the front seat. The greater area of the door lining panels was covered with material similar to that used for the seats. The upper portion of the panels was lined with a ribbed nylon cloth. A bright metal pull was fitted to each door, and it was possible to lock either front door from the outside or inside. All the doors were fitted with push-button safety catches. The ignition key fitted the front door lock and the rear compartment window lock.
Provision was made for heating and demisting equipment and, when fitted, the heater unit was placed on the platform formed in the bulkhead immediately behind the engine. The inlet and blower fan were located close to the right side of the radiator. A large-bore pipe ducted fresh air straight into the front compartment; the supply was adjusted by a control below the facia. The new Audax Hillman Minx was powered by the Rootes Group's 1390cc. overhead-valve engine.
The Lockheed brakes
had a swept surface area of 150.8 sq in. There were two leading shoes in the front drums and leading and trailing at the rear. The handbrake lever was placed by the side of the driving seat. Apart from the increased mechanical efficiency and improved appearance, one of the big advantages of the new Estate version was the provision of four doors. There was an orthodox rear seat, easily accessible as the rear doors opened wide. Previously, it was necessary to enter by the front doors, the backrests of the front seats hinging forward.
Cheerful upholstery colours and trimming made the interior very attractive. The instruments were grouped in a central panel, the speedometer
followed the usual Rootes practice, being marked with mph and kilometre equivalents, and being balanced by a fuel gauge and a temperature gauge. Beneath these were the control switches. The started motor was energized by an extra turn of the ignition switch. Above the steering
column housing was a neat cluster of warning lights for main headlamp beam, oil pressure and ignition, and there were two for direction indicators. A large open shelf was located in the lower part of the facia.
Over the years the engine grew from 1390cc (in the Series I and II) to 1725cc 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 Phase III a Smiths Easidrive and the V/VI a Borg Warner. 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
marques used for some exports.