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Title:IDRIVEACLASSIC reviews: Hillman Imp

Today's video is about the lesser spotted, absolutely awesome Hillman Imp. IDRIVEACLASSIC is sponsored and insured by Adrian Flux - check them out for your insurance quote on the link below: www.adrianflux.co.uk/influencers/idriveaclassic/ BOOK YOURSELF INTO THE GREAT BRITISH CAR JOURNEY/DRIVE DADS CAR BY VISITING THE LINK: greatbritishcarjourney.com/ _____________ HILLMAN IMP HISTORY The Hillman Imp is one of those cars that everyone remembers, but you just don’t see anymore and whilst it’s a car of the 60s and 70s, the plans for the car kicked off way back in the mid 50s amongst the Suez Oil Crisis, petrol rationing and the rise and rise of the small car. Rootes recognised that although their medium and large car market was covered with a selection of fantastic, quality vehicles; the smaller car market was one they needed to tap into because their 1 litre cars in the UK were churning a sizeable amount of sales and they recognised the small car market could offer them a larger market share as not all buyers were thinking big. Whilst many cars need to tick boxes around safety and comfort today, Parks and Fry who kicked the project off had a very specific brief. The car must carry two adults two children, the car must reach at least 60 miles per hour and give a fuel economy on test of 60 miles per gallon, use a rear engine layout and be fun to drive. I’ve also heard from several sources gentlemen wearing hats must considered in the roof height, but I’ve found no concrete proof, so that may be an old wives tale! The first prototype, the Slug was rejected on styling grounds and looking too much like a bubble car and then stage two slug had hints of the imp as we know it today but also bits and pieces where you look and say, isn’t that a bit Ford Anglia?! Whilst all this was ongoing, the team at Coventry Climax were approached and they’d been making the all-aluminium race engines. This then led to the Hillman Imp sporting the 875cc engine which kicked out 39 brake horse power and had an overhead camshaft. The engine was the first put into a mass production vehicle which had the ally head and block and rear engined. I should also probably mention the the semi trailing arm, independent rear suspension system to counteract understeer from choosing the rear engine positioning. The car was then fitted out with a transaxle which was designed by Adrian West who came from European experience at Simca, Renault and Fiat. Then once all was said and done, it came down to the factory. Rootes had wanted to expand their midlands base, but due to government loan stipulations, the factory had to be put into an area which was in need of investment, which led to the car being built near Glasgow and provided 6,000 jobs to the area. The finished car had a wheelbase of 82 inches, a length of 141 inches and a height at saloon level of just over 52 inches; making it the smallest car Rootes had ever taken to market. The engine size at launch was 875cc and fitted with a four speed manual gearbox. At one point, the car at basic spec with no optional extras was the cheapest new car on the british market. Now you might think with all that knowledge, investment and development that by the time the car launched in 1963, everything would be done and dusted and ready to go. Unfortunately many of the early cars were plagued by problems like overheating and this then meant they became a bit of a hot potato on the used car market; meaning the competition like the mini was a safer prospect. In fact, 50% of Imps ever made were made in the first three years of production. In total, just over 440 thousand were made. The production ended in 1976 but not before all the badge variants hadn’t launched including the Commer Imp van in 1965 and the Sunbeam, Singer and Husky. The vans ended in 1970 before the cars ended production in 76 bringing the Imp of many badges to an end. Now before we kick off looking round, I met a lovely gentleman at the museum who test drove this imp as part of his Drive Dad’s Car experience. I asked him what he thought of the car and what memories it held for him…


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