A BRIEF STORY ON ROOTES MOTORS Ltd, From 1959-1967

(HILLMAN HUNTER inception-production)

I only lightly touch on Rootes history, as it is covered extensively in lots of other places.

 


 

It is well documented that a group of 5 men held Rootes Motors to ransom in respect to unionism. A clear picture has emerged that their actions had bought

the company to a stand still at around September 1961.

This action put the Marque under enormous financial strain. In the financial year 1960-61, 3 million pounds profit was made, however in the next financial year, quite a turn around, with debts over 890 thousand pounds. This stage of the companies expansion at Linwood in Scotland was well underway. This was were the new model (The Imp) was to be produced

 

Rootes had posted a 10 million pound loss in 1966/67.

Chrysler took over the company when they had amassed 77.3% of voting shares. This was January 1967. So, it seems that Chrysler actually kept the Rootes company going for a lot longer than it would have if no external funds were injected into the business.  Lucky for us Hillman Hunter enthusiasts I reckon.. Who knows, They may not have even been able to export them from the UK.

 

BIRTH OF the HILLMAN HUNTER

It was called the "swallow project" , and was led by Peter Ware in the Rootes design team. What was envisaged, was a mid sized saloon with strong over tones of the yet to be released Imp.

As stated before, the project was initially tagged the "swallow" project. The vision shown in design, was a reflection of the very buoyant UK car market.

The Imp overtones are very much present in some of these original clay modeled concepts.

The company was suffering a huge financial strain, because of lack of marketplace success of the Imp, and the cash injection of the Linwood plant built for production of the imp.

Effectively, the swallow project was scuttled, and a major rethink was utilized. Early 1963, using work already undertaken with the swallow project, it was decided that a lighter, slimmer car with use made of the existing Audax engine and gearbox combinations

The HUNTER (Known as ARROW) project began in 1963, when Rootes saw the need for a new model. They appeared to be determined to replace the Audax range with a more conventional, perhaps less expensive to produce vehicle.

 

The "familiar" and original Arrow grille. It also appears that thought had already gone into the grille layouts, as shown above with the now familiar larger headlights

 

Now, that car looks very familiar!

So, after the first Hunter (arrow) rolled of the assembly line in Sept. 1966, it is  remarkable that the last Hunter (Paykan)  rolled of the Paykan assembly line in Tehran, Iran on the 15th May 2005.. End of an automotive era.. Keep the tradition alive folks!

 

VARIOUS DERIVATIVES of the HILLMAN HUNTER in the UK

 

As depicted, the Hillman Hunter was sold as re-badged cars for the other makes associated with Rootes motors. The Coupe has the floor pan etc of the Hunter/

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Thanks to the original authors for the written material used to write my perceptions.

WebPages, story and pictures, compiled by John F. McRae --GOODWOOD-- South Australia July 2005