Tag Archives: Imp

Shiny Sundance Yellow For Sale – Hillman 998 Rally Imp

In 1964 allegedly unknown to the management of the Rootes Group Rootes Group competition manager Des O’Dell homologated a competition version of the Hillman Imp known as the Rally Imp by braking into the factory every Sunday.

Des then replaced the pistons and cylinder linings on 20 motors so that on the following Monday 20 Imps would be fitted with 998cc / 61 cui motors instead of the regular 875 cc / 60 cui motors.

Hillman Rally Imp,

Once sufficient numbers had been built Des submitted his list of modified cars to the sporting authorities who accepted that the larger engines had been built in sufficient numbers to be considered legible for competition.

Imps were subsequently used for track racing on behalf of Rootes by Alan Fraser racing who entered their cars for Rootes Mechanic Bernard Unett, Ray Calcutt, Nick Brittan and Tony Lanfranchi in a successful campaigns in 1966 and 1967 against numerous Mini’s.

Hillman Rally Imp,

In Rally events works Imps were regular class winners in the hands of numerous drivers including Rosemary Smith who along with Valerie Domleo scored the Imps biggest rally victory an outright win on the Tulip Rally in the Netherlands in April 1965.

The Imp also helped Rootes secure the team prize on the 1965 and ’66 RAC Rally in the UK.

Hillman Rally Imp,

A couple of weeks ago I spent the day marshalling with Ian Fisher of the Craven Motor Club at the Craven Hullavington Sprint.

During the day Ian told me that until this event Craven has primarily been a club for Rally enthusiasts and that his start in motorsport in the 1960’s had been with a Hillman Imp and that he had converted a second hand automatic transmission Rover SD1 to a manual Group A competition spec for Rallying in the UK, Belgium and Ireland during the 1980’s.

Hillman Rally Imp,

While we were talking Ian also mentioned that he had today’s featured Historic 998cc / 61 cui Rally Imp for sale and so I naturally asked him to send me these photographs and volunteered to write a blog about it.

This 1966 Sundance Yellow Imp was built up on a low mileage Imp Sport shell in 2011 and has HRVIF papers for historic rallying and the steel boot, bonnet and front bumper necessary for acquiring FIA papers if needed.

Hillman Rally Imp,

Safety equipment includes a full cage, plumbed in and hand held fire extinguishers and five point harness harnesses valid until 2015.

As seen here to keep the weight down the car has fibreglass bonnet and boot lids with the rear side and rear windows in perspex.

Hillman Rally Imp,

The Chesman 998 cc / 61 cui motor is fitted with twin carburetors, stainless steel manifold, big valve head and competition cam and clutch for the strengthened Dave Weedon close ratio transaxle that has raised first and lowered 3rd and 4th gear ratio’s.

Suspension with Koni shock absorbers front and rear is described as ‘almost like new’ the Vauxhall Viva brake discs are fitted with Mintex pads and the car comes with six Minilite lookalike wheels fitted with Kumho tyres.

If you would are interested in buying this car, all the usual disclaimers apply, please send a personal message to the facebook account linked to this site with your contact details and I will gladly forward them to Ian.

Thanks for joining me on this “Shiny Sundance Yellow For Sale” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I will be looking at a Cooper Formula One car. Don’t forget to come back now !


Dash For Lemon Cake – Frenchay Village Show

Last week I received an e-mail advising me that the Frenchay show would be taking place on Saturday but a prior engagement meant I’d struggle to make it. Remembering how good the Lemmon cake was last time I went, I thought I’d give it a go.

Riviera by Buick, Frenchay  Village Show

As you can see I made it and enjoyed not only a quality slice of Lemon Cake, but also reacquainting my self with the Riviera by Buick which I first saw a couple of weeks ago at Yate Town Football Club.

ALFA Romeo 1750 Zagato, Frenchay  Village Show

Cockpit ergonomics have advanced considerably since this 1930’s Zagato bodied ALFA Romeo 1750 was built, but one wonders if the fun factor has not been inversely proportional.

Hillman Huskey, Frenchay  Village Show

While at boarding school I used to clean one of the teachers cars, a Hillman Husky like the 1959 example seen here, for something like a shilling / 12d / 5np a week. The parking light seen here is operated when parking on the side of a road or on a lay-by on a road with a speed limit of more than 30 mph, as mandated to this day by paragraph 249 of the highway code.

Triumph Herald, Frenchay  Village Show

Back in the day before I went to boarding school I remember going on a tour of a Metropolitan Police station in London, the sweet essence of disinfectant in the cells left a lasting negative impression. I’m not sure on the date of this sticker seen on a 1963 Triumph Herald that has been turned into a period Panda Car.

MG TC, Frenchay  Village Show

Looking back it is amazing how sports cars like this 1949 MG TC were built with exposed fuel tanks strapped to the back, MG carried on this practice until they replaced the MG TF 1500 in 1955.

Hillman Imp, Frenchay  Village Show

Bristol’s Tim Fry and later Ferrari racer Mike Parkes lead the team that developed the Hillman Imp with it’s all aluminium overhead cam 4 cylinder motor developed from a Coventry Climax fire pump. The 998 cc / 61 cui version of the Imp was first seen in 1964 and was popular among side car racers in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Thanks for joining me on this “Dash For Lemon Cake” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psychoontyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow for Americana Thursday. Don’t forget to come back now !


The Lotus Clan – Clan Crusader

In the late 1960’s early 1970’s at least three sports cars went to market using the all aluminium Coventry Climax derived Hillman Imp / Singer Chamois engine including the Ginetta G15, Davrian Imp and today’s featured vehicle the Clan Crusader.

In 1969 three Lotus Engineers, Paul Haussauer, John Frayling and Brian Luff left the company after an unspecified disagreement with Colin Chapman and founded the Clan Motor Company in Washington, Co Durham, England.

Clan Crusader, Castle Combe

Their one and only model styled by Frayling, employed a steel reinforced monocoque designed by Luff with Imp / Chamois suspension. The handling of the Clan, with a top speed of 100 mph, was said to be superior to that of both the cheaper Ginetta G15 and Davrian Imp.

From late 1971 until the introduction of crippling taxes the car was manufactured in self build or complete forms, with the self builds dropped the Crusader successfully completed independent crash tests in mid 1972. By the end of 1973 production ceased with over 300 complete cars and kits built, despite a healthy order book, due to component supply and financial difficulties.

Clan Crusader, Castle Combe

In 1974 much of the Clan stock and body moulds were shipped to Cyprus, however due to the Turkish military invasion later the same year production never got underway on the Mediterranean island.

Brian Luff made a new set of moulds from an existing car and built some more Crusaders mostly for competition use. Crusaders competition successes included a second place on it’s debut the 1972 Manx International Rally with Andy Dawson and John Foden, 1972 Tour of Mull Rally win for Alan Conley and Crawford Dunn along with two production car trials championships for Mike Hinde in 1973 and Bill Moffat in 1993.

Clan Crusader, Castle Combe

After acquiring Luff’s moulds in 1982 Peter McCandless founded Clan Cars Ltd in Northern Ireland and recommenced production of the a variant of the Crusader now simply known as the Clan which featured a new nose with pop up head lights. Around 120 so called Irish Clans were built for the road and a further 10 for competition.

A Clan Clover model, powered by an Alfa Romeo engine mounted ahead of the rear axle was also built, more than 20 of these cars are thought to have been built before the receivers were called in to Clan Cars in 1987.

Today’s featured 1972 Crusader was seen at Castle Combe a couple of years ago.

Thanks for joining me on this “Lotus Clan” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a 1948 Bentley called Blue Velvet. Don’t forget to come back now !


Pick Up Man – Hillman Imp Super Pick Up

Bob has a passion for Hillman Imps which can be traced back to learning to drive one. Since then he has owned many more and become something of an expert on the model.

Hillman Imp Super Pick Up, Bristol Classic, Shepton Mallet

Living out in the country not far from Bristol he has need of an all purpose run around and one day Bob had the good fortune to be in his autocross racer friend Philip’s garage when Philip was poking holes with a screw driver through an Imp he had just acquired.

Hillman Imp Super Pick Up, Bristol Classic, Shepton Mallet

Philip agreed to give the Imp to Bob for nothing and before Philip could change his mind Bob got the car home and chopped the roof off with an angle grinder and then strategically added some steel to maintain structural rigidity.

He then matched up the C pillars and tailgate with the remaining roof behind the door frame which allowed the seats, rescued from a Peugeot 205 GTi, to be moved all the way back on their runners.

Hillman Imp Super Pick Up, Bristol Classic, Shepton Mallet

Bob has made a few mechanical improvements to the car including removing the original transverse mounted radiator and installing one from a Nissan Micra longitudinally which improves cooling of the alloy engine.

With five years on and off work completed and expenses that “didn’t run in to thousands” Bob took his Imp Pick Up to an Imp Club meeting for it’s first run and came home with second place prize in the modified class.

Best of all his wife finds the pick up far more comfortable than his other car, a Sunbeam Imp but with out the Peugeot seats. Which all goes to show as Joe Diffie observed there is something women like about a pick up man.

Thanks for joining me on this “Pick Up Man” edition of “Getting a li’l psycho on tyres”. I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to came back now !


Brave Heart – Singer Chamois

Comparing today’s Hillman Imp /Singer Chamois with yesterday’s FIAT 850 it is hard to believe that the Imp/Chamoise was in production one year ahead of the 850. Unencumbered by an existing design, like the FIAT 850, the clean lines of the Imp / Chamois were the work of Tim Fry and occasional Ferrari F1 driver Mike Parkes who were given carte blanche at the start of the ‘Apex’ project.

Incredibly, well incredible to my 2010 eyes with 2020 hind sight the FIAT 850 out sold the Imp / Chamois nearly 5:1 despite the Imp / Chamois being in production for 5 more years from 1963 – 1976. This particular vehicle apparently first registered in Bristol in 1966 is the badge engineered high end Singer Chamois Mark II with a conventional throttle cable and manual choke replacing the pneumatic throttle linkage and automatic choke of the MK I in 1965.

The Imp / Chamois vehicles were built in a brand new factory in Linwood near Glasgow by a workforce more experienced in building mighty ships than assembling little cars. Knockdown kit versions were also assembled in Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, Venezuela, Uruguay, Costa Rica, South Africa and Australia.

Nearly 200,000 of these vehicles were built from 1963 – 1966 it then took another 10 years to build the same number again. The engine in the rear started life as an iron block FWMA Coventry Climax fire pump engine but was made, unusually for the time, entirely out of aluminium with a redesigned cylinder head in this application.

The 875 cc 53 cui engine delivered 39 hp enough to take the car to a respectable 80 mph. The car was perhaps hampered by having the engines cast in Glasgow and machined in Coventry before being shipped back to Glasgow for installation, a round trip of some 600 miles, but more than any thing the vehicle appears to have been a largely wasted marketing opportunity when compared against the similarly sized FIAT 850.

Thanks for joining me, I hope you have enjoyed today’s Scottish edition wishing everyone with a heritage north of Hadrian’s Wall a happy St Andrew’s day.

Hope you’ll join me again tomorrow for another exciting instalment of ‘Getting a lil’ psycho on tyres’, don’t forget to come back now !