Humber Vogue

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Humber Vogue

Humber Vogue

1963 - 1966
United Kingdom
62 bhp / 46 kW
4 speed man / 3 spd AT
Top Speed:
80.0 mph
Number Built:
2 star
Humber Vogue
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2


We know it as the Humber Vogue, but this car was really a badge engineered Hillman Super-Minx. The Super-Minx was announced in October 1961, and gave Rootes an expanded presence in the upper reaches of the family car market. It has been suggested that the Super-Minx design was originally intended to replace, and not merely to supplement, the standard Minx, but was found to be too big for that purpose.

The suspension setup was independent at the front using coil springs with anti roll bar and at the rear had leaf springs and a live axle. Unassisted 9 in (229 mm) Lockheed drum brakes were fitted. The steering used a recirculating ball system and was, as was usual at the time, not power assisted. Standard seating, trimmed in Vynide, used a bench type at the front with individual seats as an option. A heater was fitted but a radio remained optional.

The Minx could be ordered in single colour or two tone paint. The four-speed manual transmission featured synchromesh on the top three ratios, controlled by a floor-moutned lever. You could option the "Smiths Easidrive" automatic transmission. A Super Minx was tested by the British magazine "The Motor" in 1962 and had a top speed of 80.0 mph (128.7 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.6 seconds.

King of the Wet

At the time, the Humber Vogue had the reputation for being "the safest car in wet conditions" then available in Australia. Of course to achieve that feat, it was also blessed with excessive understeer on a dry surface. Pretty much all Rootes cars, with the exception of the Imp, had very laudable built-in "fail-safe" systems of handling - but unfortunately this came at the expense of good steering. But on the Mark III Vogue Rootes engineers had addressed this issue, making it lighter, sharper and requiring less effort given the inbuilt understeer that had become the hallmark.

The Vogue Sports

This Mark III Vogue was a big improvement over the previous model. In 1965 Rootes Australia introduced an extra version of the Vogue (which was really just a badge-engineered Hillman with wood trim) known as the Vogue Sports, which had the same specifications as the Sunbeam Rapier. This model was popular among Rootes aficionados, and was unique to Australia until Rootes UK realised it was a winner and introduced the model to the UK. For 1966 it was the Vogue Sports that became, simply, the Humber Vogue here in Australia. You could option an automatic transmission, but otherwise it retain the Vogue Sport mechanicals, and was powered by the robust oversquare 1592cc engine in Rapier form.

The Best Rootes Car Of All Time

Changes from the Mark II Vogue included an altered roof line, increased glass area, bigger windscreen, reclining front seats, a brilliant all-synchro four speed gearbox, diaphragm spring clutch and a minor but important remaking of the front suspension to improve the steering and roadholding. It was, without doubt, one of the best Rootes cars of all time. In performance it was up there with the Cortina, although fractionally slower than the Cortina GT. It handled remarkably well, stopped equally well, and fuel consumption was not excessive for a medium to high performance light four. It also set very high standards of comfort, trim and equipment to go along with the good road performance.

The Vogue would top 90mph easily, although in spite of extensive under-bonnet soundproofing there was a fair amount of noise in the cabin at high speed, and noticeable wind roar around the quarter vent area. The acceleration times were helped greatly by the clutch and gearbox action working together - lightning fast, very positive, and very satisfying. Going back from top to third was a particularly good movement that was almost impossible to mess up. The ratios were very good, without the low first gear normally found on British cars from the era, and the Vogue had a sensible 3.89 to 1 final drive ratio.

Behind the Wheel

While the Vogue would understeer quite a lot on dry surfaces, the steering had been improved so much that the front end would rarely "plough" – ensuring the driver had precise feel and control over the placement of the front wheels. Thus the car could be pushed wide, and then be corrected either by more lock or less power - or a momentary dab on the brakes to reduce the cornering power of the rear and tuck the nose back into the corner. On dirt the Vogue could be driven confidently, because if the tail let go the Vogue would correct the slide almost automatically and with very little wheel movement. Upgrading to good braced tread tyres would easily bring the car back more toward neutral balance for the expert driver.

The ride was firm, a legacy of the longtime Rootes suspension design, with short wheel amplitudes and lower-rate dampers, and the Vogue could be bottomed on its suspension on bad dirt roads. Normally, however, the ride is quite acceptable for a car that will be driven in a sporting manner. Brakes are beyond criticism, with low pedal pressures, great resistance to fade, and a handbrake that—like all the Rootes handbrakes—will lock the rear wheels instantly at 50 mph.

Singer Vogue

Humber Vogue

On the Road

The Vogue can be cruised for long periods at upwards of 70-75 mph with little strain except for that wind roar and the busy thrash from the engine. The engine noise was mainly sourced back to fan and valve gear, as the transmission is silent. The clutch had a longish throw, but a lot of feel that made it very progressive, and the gearbox movements were very light and snap-fast. However, the lever was placed a little too far forward, and if the driver took advantage of the seat adjustments to move further back, they would need to stretch for the lever when it was in first and third.

The handbrake, by the driver's right, was ideally situated. The clutch and brake pedals were unfortunately inclined too much toward the horizontal, so that muddy shoes would slip forward on them. The driver could get very comfortable at the nearly vertical wheel - and this also helped to overcome most of the annoyances of understeer, as the driving position would have allowed you to work with generous sweeps of the arms. A full horn ring operated a good set of twin horns.

Vogue Performance

The Vogue's rear end was less pleasing than the front. Standing start acceleration provoked severe rear axle windup, which was compounded by engine torque reaction causing loud thumps in the drive line. Some motoring journals also noted that, under rigorous testing, the inside rear wheel would tend to lift through weight transference in hard corners. Spread and penetration from the four headlights was very good, allowing fast night cruising. There were minor reflections from the instruments on to the swept-back windscreen, the rear vision mirror was too small, although well-placed, and the wipers cover a generous area.

On the Inside

Rootes were lavish with the interior. In the Humber tradition, walnut cappings covered each window sill and the facia was a handsome patterned and polished genuine walnut affair topped with rolled padding and with a full-width parcels shelf underneath that also had a padded rail. Instruments - of the horizontal strip kind - ran to speedometer with tenths and trip, and gauges for fuel, water temperature, oil pressure and charge. These were grouped properly before the driver, with the speedometer always visible through the wheel. Controls for choke, heater/ demister, headlights, wipers, washers and ignition were placed in a row under the instruments and could all be reached while wearing seat belts.

The only two difficult controls were the fresh air vent at the right hand extremity of the parcels shelf and the on-off instrument lighting switch under the dash behind the steering wheel. The glovebox was lockable. Trim was in good-quality PVC, with hard-wearing Westminster carpet on the floor and washable headlining. Each door had finger-hook handles, slightly hard armrests shaped as door pulls. The quarter vent locks were efficient, but awkward to use. The rear doors had a big ashtray in each, while the front compartment ashtray was in the centre of the facia's lower edge. Seat reclining adjustment was controlled by a small lever on the outside hinge of the seats.

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Also see:
The History of Humber (USA Site)
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