The Carchive: The Series III Hillman Minx

The Carchive is where we close our eyes to whatever’s going on at the cutting edge of the automotive world, take a deep breath and ponder the past, rummaging through the highs and the lows of history.
From a brief flirtation with heavy trucks last week we drop down a couple of dozen sizes today with this fascinating little artefact from the late ’50s, it’s a British printed brochure for the US market Hillman Minx, as issued in dealerships throughout North America

“A better buy- because it’s better built”
The thing I love the most about this brochure is the quaint turn of phrase. It’s written in a manner that seems to have been phased out at some point in the ‘sixties. You can imagine it being vocalised in a plummy English accent, a BBC voice, but it would sound very odd read aloud by an American.
“Presenting- a brilliant New Hillman Minx… livelier, lovelier than ever… a proud successor to an illustrious line”
This was the third update on the post-war-Minx theme, complete with Loewy-inspired styling making it one of the more stylish everyday cars to bear an English hallmark. These were sharp looking devices, especially in Sedan flavour, although the airbrushed illustrations in the brochure do tend towards the generous when illustrating scale and stance.
In photos the Minx looks rather more frumpy and spindly than in renderings. Call it artistic license.
“Up-to-date technical advancements give greater power and performance, more vivid acceleration”
Vivid was perhaps a stretch, but I suppose “more” was the operative word. For the Series III the four-pot engine had grown to 1494cc to produce 56.5 horsepower. When The Motor magazine tested a ’58 model it returned a 76.9 mph maximum, sixty of which were reached after 25.4 seconds of trying.
This was it for engine choices, and there was only one transmission option, the manual, part-synchromesh close-ratio tree-shifter, though a floor gate could be specified.
“This is a car for every occasion. With the top fully closed the convertible is a cosy sedan. With the top half open it is a smart coupe-de-ville. For fine weather and the open country, the top stows neatly away to convert the car into a sleek, open sports tourer”
One which still couldn’t break 80mph, but never mind that. The Minx Convertible looked great and made for vaguely glamourous yet simple to wrench import car choice. Or, if you were of a more practical bent, there was a handy station wagon with a two-person, 700lb load capability.
Or, if you were really dead against any kind of joy and keen to minimise your stylishness, you could pay less and receive a Minx “Special” Sedan, which was like the De Luxe but with all the fancy bits shaved off.
“A wide Opticurve backlight provides excellent rearward vision…. ”
“Opticurve”! This was pretty out-there for an English family car in the late ’50s and would surely never have happened had Loewy’s team helped Rootes out with the styling on these cars, and there are certainly Studebaker overtones to some of these images.
“Provision is made for radio, heater, clock, ammeter and oil gauge as extras”
Yeah, don’t go wild on the standard equipment, will you? The other option, of course, was whitewall tyres.
(All images are of original manufacturers publicity materials, photographed by me on an uncharacteristically beautiful March lunchbreak. Copyright remains property of Rootes Group, which means Chrysler, which probably means Fiat)

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  1. Sjalabais Avatar

    The artistic freedom often seen in these brochures would be unthinkable today. A year or so ago a Minx sold with the typical British/French classic car discount really got me interested in the line. They did have a good reputation for reliability.

  2. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    We had these in New Zealand. Assembled here from CKD kits imported from England by the local Rootes distributer, Todd Motors. In the days of import quotas limliting the number of cars sold, Todd soon hit their allowed import limit with the popular Hillman Minx.
    So in a nice piece of lateral thinking, the Humber 80 was invented, the new model doubling the number of cars sold now that it came with two names. A nice peice of literal badge engineering as the cars were otherwise identical. And when the Minx was replaced by the Super Minx, the 80 was replaced by a similarly badged Humber 90.
    Humber 80
    Hillman Super Minx

  3. Batshitbox Avatar

    With the top half open it is a smart coupe-de-ville
    Oh, England. Ever optimistic about the weather, yet ever cautious, too.

  4. Maymar Avatar
    Only vaguely relevant, but this is the Canadian HQ mentioned on the back of that brochure. It looks much less impressive now.