Hillman Imp

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Hillman Imp

Hillman Imp

1963 - 1976
United Kingdom
4 cyl.
875 cc
39 bhp.
4 speed manual
Top Speed:
80 mph / 126 km/h
Number Built:
1 star
Hillman Imp
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


The Hillman Imp was the first mass-produced British car to have the engine in the back, and the first to use a light aluminium alloy die-cast engine.

Slanting sharply from left to right to lower the centre of gravity (and leave room on top for luggage), the single overhead camshaft design had an unusually high compression ratio of 10 to 1.

The first car to use a Diaphragm Spring Clutch, it also featured many standard inclusions that would not become common on other vehicles until much later.

The list included a third rear hinged 'door' (hatch), a special folding bench seat in the back, automatic choke, no grease points, gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure.

The engine drove forward to the gearbox, then back through an orthodox differential to independently sprung rear wheels.

Delivering 39 bhp at 5000 rpm, the Imp was good for a top speed of around 80mph (126 km/h). Sitting on 12in. wheels, it had smart but hardly spectacular styling - similar to the Corvair fashion.

It had good all-round visibility with easy to read instrumentation (set inside two same-size dials for speedometer and auxiliary gauges). Trim was simple but practical in the Rootes tradition, but the Imp was one of the few British saloons to have a heater as standard equipment.

Providing an efficient heating system was cleverly developed by the engineers, their devising a system whereby heated water was passed up to the front luggage space via the left hand sill and returned by the right hand sill to the engine bay.

In the luggage bay the water went to a conventional heater fan unit located in either the space beneath the right-hand headlight to that side of the air intake box or to an internal heater on the internal bulkhead with air coming through a fan mounted in the area below the headlight. It is a shame then that the heater was standard on only some models, and most Australian versions were not fitted with heaters.
Hillman Imp

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Lost Marques - Hillman
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Posted Recently
MY Imp was a bit different to most. Wanted something light for Rallycross in Victoria. Stripped out with a alloy oldsmobile v8 engine, VW gearbox with ZF l.s.d . Vanguard radiator in front, Engine midmounted behind driver. Won 3rd div at first meeting . Won 2nd div at second meeting . Had one meeting inFirst div then Bob jane pulled the plug . sold to N.S.W. Never heard of it again.
Posted Recently
Gotta luv imps... I have had over 40 and still have 5 even have a web site dedicated to imps at *** bodgy *** *** Finally have my blue singer chamois on the road after 5 years part time resto... Wont sell that car.......
Posted Recently
Hey Robyn - I would love to see some images of your Imp. I notice this site has a "show us yours" section. Any chance you can post some images of the car? Would be much appreciated. Phizza
Robyn from the sticks, again
Posted Recently
Update : My Imp is now on the road after spending a few months with a spe *** t (we had some parts issues) and it is going like a dream.
Took the car out yesterday. The Spring Fest was on at Lake Wendouree in Ballarat. Lots of people checked her out, took photos and the like - and I wasn't part of any of the exhibits!!
Gotta love that car!
Posted Recently
i used to carry out pre-delivery inspections at Cattermoles garages on all Rootes vehicles including all Imps ,i had the Husky version lovely motors all being blighted at first by being tested in a hot climate the clutches where to small being upgraded to a larger diameter and the king pins used to sieze up being only PTFE coated so we had to fit grease nipples after removing the PTFE bushes -spent many hours working on Imps -the main dealers Rootes where at Ladroke Grove
Robyn in the Sticks
Posted Recently
The Imp was my first car too. I bought mine in 1981. It was orange and had been restored with a vinyl roof and the interior vinyl was from the well known chain of rubber stores. It was great. The pattern was a quilted floral job with orange, brown and green. Unfortunately she 'chucked a rod' and I didn't have time to hunt around to fix it.
But, all is not lost. Only 27 years later and I now have another Imp. This one is from Canberra and is mechanically superior, but does need some work to bring her up to spec. Gorgeous pale lilac paint job. Can't wait to get it on the road (thank the good fella for a mechanically savvy significant other!!).
Paul Churchill
Posted Recently
My first car was a Hillman Imp, which I drove from Kingswood Auctions. As I did a burnout leaving the driveway, I quickly got up to 100mph as I went over the Werrington Hill and flew past Cobham. Quickly through the 'esses' on Charles HAckett Drive and back out to the Highway for a bit of circle work outside the Wagon Wheels Hotel. Many fun times in this car. Me and Lee Turner used to outrun the cops down the back of Whalan Reserve after we had stripped cars. We used to cruise Tregear Shops looking for hot chicks. Often, we would 'pick up' and then go parking at the Bidwill Clock, Mt Druitt Millars Hotel or the Cedars at Emerton. Awesome Car, Happy Memories.
R. Green
Posted Recently
G/Day. The Imp was my wife/s first & only car that she owned before we met & got married. She loved it because it was compact & cute in her words. Mine thoughts were it looked more like a sardine tin with wheels, being 6ft 4. It was like getting into a suitcase. My wife bought it in 1967 & as I said she loved it.
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