Hillman Minx Audax Series 1 to 6
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
The Audax body
shape of the Hillman Minx Series 1 to Series 6 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 Minx had gone through a series of annual face lifts each given a Series number, replacing the Phase number used on the previous Minxes; there was no Series IV - which made the Series VI, rather confusingly, the 5th update of the Audax iterations.
The engine was new for the Audax models, and featured 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 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 and VI a Borg Warner.
A Series III deLuxe saloon with 1494cc engine was tested by the British magazine "The Motor" in 1958 and 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 (8.88 L/100 km; 26.5 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £794 including taxes of £265.
The Series VI Minx
Although the styling and mechanical changes made to the 1964
range of Hillmans were only minor, they nevertheless greatly enhanced the cars. The ’64 range featured new protruding radiator grilles and rubber-faced bumper overriders back and front. The fins were removed from the rear guards so that they resembled those of the 1956
models. A sharper line was used in the rear roof line so that the back window was deeper and the headroom inside was slightly better.
The dashboard was redesigned and was surrounded with crash padding. There was also a lockable glovebox, headlamp flashers and a floor-mounted ashtray in the rear. Bucket seats of new design replaced the previous bench seat. On the more practical side, greasing points were completely eliminated from the entire Hillman range. Disc brakes
became standard equipment on the front wheels of the Minx (they had been used on the Super Minx since 1962
) and the steering
was modified to make it lighter in operation.
There were also some changes to the suspension
system, but these consisted mainly of different spring and shocker rates. Another very worthwhile change was an increased fuel tank capacity, from 7 to 10 gallons – no doubt appreciated by Aussie motorists who had much greater distances to travel than their UK brethren. A Borg-Warner automatic transmission
was optional equipment for the Minx, but when this was fitted it coupled to the 62 bhp version of the engine. With stick shift the power remained at 56.5 bhp.
Rootes' development engineers were always working to improve the consumption of the 1,725cc Minx engine fitted to the Series VI. Obviously wind has a greater effect on lighter and less powerful cars, and in the case of the Minx the acceleration figures of 50-70 m.p.h. in third gear would take the engine well over its power peak so that, especially into wind, the car would take an unrealistically long time to reach 70 m.p.h. 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.
Although the published figures for the Minx Audax Series VI models indicates a top speed of 90 mph, we have only been able to find road tests quoting around 80, or on one occasion 85 (with a strong tail wind). The final Hillman Minx was a reduced specification Hillman Hunter, and is shown in as the last two images in the slide show on this page.
Minor improvements were also made to the Husky for 1964, although it remained the same shape apart from the new-look grille it shared with the Minx. The steering
was lighter, the suspension
characteristics were changed slightly and the dashboard was restyled. All greasing points were eliminated, as in the sedans, and service periods were extended to 3000-mile intervals. The Husky's 43.5 bhp at 4200 rpm still came from the old 1390cc engine.
Sturt Griffith's Road Test
A name synonymous with quality automotive journalism in the 1950s was Sturt Griffith. He would take all cars on offer in any particular year, then drive it over a punishing course to determine what was good, and bad, with a particular car. Obviously his yardstick was the best on offer in any particular year - and something we do not have the benefit of today. While we make every endeavour to judge a car on its contemporaries, sometimes it is very difficult. We refer to many of his road tests in compiling our own, but for the record, the Hillman Minx review below remains as told in 1957
The Minx is a well-designed car, founded on well-proven principles. It has very pleasant external lines, and it offers comfortable accommodation for four persons and luggage on tour. The Series II (1958) model has several new features. On the engineering side these comprise a modified camshaft which is claimed to give an improvement in torque (pulling power) and flexibility. The steering
has also been developed, without any radical change in its design.
The test results show that the 1958 model climbs and accelerates a little better than its predecessor. The engine is a smooth and quiet performer at all times. The change in the steering
is not noticeable. It still has a little lost motion in movements from the straight-ahead position, which robs it of the, desirable positive action. I would class the road performance of the car as generally good. It has a pleasing top gear performance, acceleration is brisk enough, and a top speed of 78 m:p.h. will satisfy most owners. Over really bad roads the suspension
bottomed readily, and a good deal of reaction was transmitted through the steering
to the wheel and column, which vibrated noticeably. The gearshift is now smooth and positive, and the synchromesh
is very good.
Most main road hills can be taken in top, and where a change down is necessary, third is an excellent gear which will deal with such really difficult climbs as the Scenic Hill. The gears used, and the speeds recorded on the test were:
- BODINGTON (average grade 1 in 11.5): Top gear at 50-48-38 mph.
- RIVER LETT (1 in 12, maximum 1 in 8.5): Third gear in a lively and steady climb at 40-34-43 mph.
- SCENIC HILL (1 in 10, maximum 1 in 8): A tenacious performance in third sear, at 50-24-34 mph.
- MOUNT TOMAH (1 in 12, maximum 1 in 9): Top and third gears in about equal proportions, at 50-29-34 mph.
- KURRAJONG WEST (1 in 12.5): Top gear at 50-38-40 mph.
The powered-load: weight ratio is 44.8 horsepower per ton, with the regular load of 3 cwt. In top gear, an engine speed of 1000 rpm gives a road speed of 15.3 mph.
Touring Speeds and Acceleration
The natural touring speed of the Minx on the open road is around 65 m.p.h., thanks to good roadholding and an energetic engine. When ambling along, the car can be run down to about 30 m.p.h. in top without losing that response necessary to deal with normal road circumstances. The average speed over the route was 43.2 mph. Weather was excellent. The maximum pulling power has now been increased slightly, to a torque of 72 lb-ft. This is developed at the usefully low speed of 34 m.p.h. in top gear. For prompt overtaking third gear should be used between 25 and 33 m.p.h., over which latter speed top gear is sufficient. Times for acceleration were; Third gear: 20 to 40 mph, 7.8 seconds.; 30 to 50 mph, 10.4 seconds. Top gear: 20 to 40 mph, 11.5 seconds: 30 to 50 mph, 12.6 seconds.; 40 to 60 mph, 17.8 seconds.
Roadholding and Steering
The Minx shows good adhesion when cornered fast and the rear wheels did not break away readily on dry bitumen. The car is stable and without any vicious tendencies and roll is moderate on fast corners. Tyre squeal is about average. Riding comfort is quite satisfactory when judged on the standard of cars having conventional suspension
. The tests over badly potholed country roads showed, however, that the Minx will bottom quite readily and that an unpleasant vibration is set up in the steering
column under such conditions. The Burman worm-and-nut steering
mechanism is reasonably quick in action, requiring 2 7/8 turns from lock to lock. It is light enough under all circumstances, but there is a slight lost motion in its movement. The turning circle of the car is 34ft and this is found to be quite convenient when .manoeuvring.
Braking and Fuel Consumption
The Lockheed hydraulic brakes
have a lining area of 92 square inches and they gave a perfectly satisfactory performance with moderate pedal pressures. On the 3.5-mile descent from Kurrajong Heights in neutral, the brakes
showed themselves to be free from fade. The handbrake is particularly good, being of the pull-up type located at the driver's right hand. It was most effective in action and easily stopped the car from 30 mph on a descent of 1-in-8. At an average speed of 43.2 mph over the test route, the Minx yielded the moderate result of 31.0 miles per gallon.
Taking the loaded weight of the car into consideration, this gives a ton-miles per gallon figure of 35.3. Considering the average speed over the route, the fuel-speed factor (ton-mpg x average speed) is 1,530. Both of these figures are satisfactory. The fuel tank is rather on the small side, as it gives a fast cruising range of only 225 miles.
The arrangement of-controls for the driver is good, and his position is quite comfortable, due to the careful positioning of the well-raked steering
column and wheel. The pedals are well placed, having moderate-sized pads, but are set a trifle high. Both operate through hydraulic rams. Vision is excellent, and the only flaw-here is the rear vision mirror, which vibrates into a blur around 35 mph. The instruments are located in the centre of the facia where they are difficult to read. They comprise speedometer
and gauges for fuel contents and head temperature.
The warning lights for ignition, oil pressure, high-beam and turn-indicators are before the driver. The switches are located centrally, but may be identified by touch. The winker turn-indicators are operated by a finger on the steering
column, and the headlights are dipped by a floor switch. The screen wipers sire satisfactory in operation and are self-parking. A full circle horn ring is fitted.
Engineering and Body
The power unit is a four-cylinder engine which has shown itself to be very smooth and capable of giving maximum power over long periods. The engine is exactly "square," with a bore and stroke of 76.2mm. It operates on the relatively high compression of eight to one. Access is good to all engine ancillaries, steering
linkage, etc., in a wide and uncluttered engine compartment. A by-pass oil filter and an oil bath air filter are fitted. The column gearshift is smooth and positive in operation, with good synchromesh. Gear ratios are: Top 4.8. third 7.1, and second gear 11.8 to 1.
The unitary structure is mounted at the front end on coils and wishbones, controlled by an anti-roll bar
and telescopic dampers. The wheel carrying arm is swivelled at its lower end and is fitted with a ball and socket at its upper end. Rear suspension
is by semi-elliptic springs
having separator pads, and controlled by telescopic shock absorbers. The car interior is comfortable four persons, with a possibility of carrying three in the rear compartment over short distances. The bench seats comprise rubber-over springs, and covering is in a synthetic material. The seats are comfortable and have a width of 47 inches at front, and 48 inches in rear.
The wheel arches intrude slightly into the rear seat. The hump over the gearbox tunnel along the rear floor are quite pronounced. Foot wells are formed in both floors and ensure that there is ample leg and head room, even for tall persons in all seats. The door windows are quite large and ventilating panels are fitted in the front pair.- There is also a cold air supply to the driver's side (only) for the front floor. The interior finish of the car is quite pleasant and a good-sized parcels shelf is provided for both front occupants. The boot is particularly good, having a capacity of about 13.5 cu. ft., with the spare stowed to one side.
The Hillman Minx is a car based upon sound engineering design coupled with a modem body
styling. It provides comfortable accommodation for four persons and their weekend luggage, and it is very pleasant to drive on the touring highway. Considering its engine size, top gear performance is satisfactory, and the car will sustain high cruising speeds indefinitely. The Minx is a general purpose car of medium size and is strongly constructed. The Minx was made available by John McGrath Motors Pty. Ltd.