Shiny monarch of the

driveways

Hillman Minx

IN those far off days of the late 1950s and early 60s one of the indicators that you had made it in life was a shiny new Hillman Minx on the driveway.

Unlike some other cars of the time, the Minx said something about you. It was just a cut above and was a queen of Middle England motoring for many years.

Perhaps the best of the Minx models was the Audax series.

The Audax body was designed by the Rootes Group which owned Hillman, but there was considerable assistance from the Raymond Loewy design company which had been heavily involved in the styling of Studebaker coupes in 1953.

The Audax series arrived in 1956 at a time when previous Minx designs were firmly rooted in Britain's motoring culture.

It was a classic three-box design with at least one variation featuring more than a hint of that classic Studebaker look.

And Rootes, keen to be up to date with trends were busy with a series of rapid restyles to keep order books healthy.

In those days there was a sense of one-upmanship in yearly model changes and the used market was always well supplied with ‘old' models.

The Series I in the Audax series, introduced in 1956, was followed by the Series II in 1957, the Series III in 1958, the Series IIIA in 1959, the Series IIIB in 1960, the Series IIIC in 1961, the Series V in 1963 and the Series VI in 1965. There was no Series IV.

Over the years the engine was increased in capacity from 1,390cc (in the Series I and II) to 1,725cc in the Series VI.

Most of the early variations came with a somewhat clunky column change but later models had a floor change andautomatic transmissions were offered.

A Series III de Luxe saloon with 1,494cc of 1958 had a top speed of 76.9mph and could accelerate from 0-60mph in 25.4 seconds. A fuel consumption of 31.8mpg was the norm and the car would cost around £790.

As always Rootes threw massive badge engineering into the pot and Singer and Sunbeam versions were available.

Versions were sold in countries including New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

My first set of wheels was a Hillman Minx of 1958 vintage.

It was far from new had hated cold starts. But the white steering wheel and solid construction grew on me and I remember it with affection - even the awkward column gearchange.

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