The Hillman Avenger was conceived as early as 1963 to replace the Hillman Minx, however another project that became the Hillman Hunter eventually replaced the Minx and the Avenger was re conceived in 1965 as a midrange vehicle between the Hillman Imp and the Hunter going head to head in the market against the dominant Ford Cortina and much maligned Morris Marina.
Doing away with the traditional waist line and adopting a ‘flow back’ the Avenger avoided looking in anyway stunted alongside it’s larger Hunter stablemate, the Avenger body shell was one of the earliest to benefit from the use computers in the design process.
In 1970 the Avenger was launched with a conventional, for the period, front engine rear wheel drive layout which dispensed with the conventional rear leaf springs in favour of a four link rear suspension to give the vehicle superior handling characteristics.
Two sporting versions of the Avenger were built both with 107 hp uprated engines with big valves and two Webber Carbs , the Tiger 1, launched in March ’72, is externally distinguishable by square headlights, a power bulge in the bonnet, four fog lights and a set of Minilite wheels. Intended to be an edition limited to 100 the Tiger 1 ended up being limited to 200 examples, all bar 3 of the Tiger 1 models were Sundance Yellow with black stripes the exceptions all being white with Rootes Group (Chrysler) blue stripes.
The Tiger 2 featuring a matt black bonnet, four round headlights and a cheaper set of alloy wheels but retaining the rear spoiler was launched in October ’72 with a production run of 400. Tiger 2’s were available in Sundance Yellow or Red with the familiar black detailing.
Despite the badging on this vehicle an HPI check of the registration leads me to confidently believe that this particular vehicle is not one of only 20 original Tigers thought to exist today. Bernard Unett won the British Saloon Car Championship in 1974 and 1976 driving Mopar sponsored Avengers. In all over 600,000 Avengers were built over 11 years to 1981.
US readers might know this model better as the Plymouth Cricket, it was also sold as the Dodge Avenger – South Africa, Dodge 1800 & Polara – Brazil, Dodge 1500 in Uruguay and Argentina where it was also known as the Volkswagen 1500 !
With thanks to David Rootes who facilitated my visit to the Classic and Saloon Car Action day at Castle Combe recently.
Thanks for popping by the Tiger edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil’ psycho on tyres’, I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !