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Hillman IMP -
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Hillman IMP

Hillman IMP

The Hillman Imp is a small car that was made by the Rootes Group and its successor Chrysler Europe from 1963 until 1976.

Revealed on 3 May 1963, after much advance publicity, it was the first British mass-produced car with the engine block and cylinder head cast in aluminum. Being a direct competitor to the BMC’s Mini, it used a space-saving rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout to allow as much luggage and passenger capacity as possible in both the rear and the front of the car. It used a unique opening rear hatch to allow luggage to be put into the back seat rest.

It was the first mass-produced British car with the engine in the back and the first to use a diaphragm spring clutch. The baulk-ring synchromesh unit for the transaxle compensated for the speeds of gear and shaft before engagement, from which the Mini had suffered during its early production years.

It incorporated many design features which were uncommon in cars until the late 1970s, such as a folding rear bench seat, automatic choke and gauges for temperature, voltage and oil pressure. This unorthodox small/light car was designed for the Rootes Group by Michael Parkes (who later became a Formula One driver) and Tim Fry. 

It was manufactured at the purpose-built Linwood plant in Scotland. As well as the Hillman marque, there was a series of variations, including an estate car (the Husky), a van and a coupé. Between August 12 and 14, 1964, a Sunbeam Imp sports sedan (ZT-86-20) completed the First American Rodding Magazine sanctioned endurance run and broke a world record in the process, previously set by Erwin George “Cannonball” Baker in 1933, driving from New York City to Los Angeles, California, covering 3,011 miles in 48 hours, 9 minutes, 54 seconds at an average speed of 63.7 mph.

The Imp gained a reputation as a successful rally car when Rosemary Smith won the Tulip Rally in 1965. 

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