Hunter a Cortina

rival that hit the

mark

Hillman Hunter

MUCH is spoken of the success of the Ford Cortina in the late 1960s but to me it did have one real competitor - the Hillman Hunter.

The Hunter was similar in size to the Cortina and came from the Rootes Group, a now defunct manufacturer which was a massively big name in UK family motoring.

The Hunter drove onto the scene in 1966 and was an expression of new thinking from a company which had prospered previously on the old-fashioned Minx and Super Minx designs under the Hillman banner.

It has to be said that the Hunter had a touch of class and in true Rootes fashion was badge engineered throughout a number of different brands owned by Rootes, including Sunbeam.

It was known as the Arrow design series and although the design was a winner, the manufacturer was ailing and failed to put in place the long-term development the car deserved.

In fact, Rootes was perilously close to the rocks at that time.

The Hunter was powered by a 1,725cc four-cylinder engine with a top speed of more than 90mph and a 0-60mph sprint of 10.9 seconds.

Mechanical specification consisted of a conventional rear-wheel- drive layout with MacPherson front suspension plus front disc brakes and it was a beauty to drive.

The Hunter polished the family motoring theme with a neat three-box design with sharp performance.

Lighter than the Super Minx, the Hunter's wheel-base was also 6cm shorter. But the length of the passenger cabin was nonetheless improved by moving the engine and the toe-board forwards.

For the first four years there were few changes but in May 1968 power assisted brakes were made available as a factory fitted option.

A mild facelift in 1970 gave new grilles to the various Hunter trim levels, and some derivatives gained a more fashionable dashboard.

A more detailed facelift for 1972 brought a new all-plastic dashboard and deeply hooded round dials replaced the strip speedometer. For 1975, bumpers were enlarged and the tail lights were enclosed in an anodised aluminium trim piece.

The Hunter was the great survivor of range because it soldiered on until 1976, at which time it was re-badged as a Chrysler, which it was to be for the remaining three years of its life.

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