1960's Rootes Cars
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This guide features several classic Rootes cars from the 1960s.
Humber Hawk 1, 2, 3, 4 (1957-1967)
For the first time since 1948, Rootes introduced an all-new Humber, this being the unit-construction Hawk saloon. Although it retained the existing Hawk's 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine and related transmissions, the structure and suspensions were new. Body-shells were pressed and assembled at the BLSP works in Acton, West London. An estate car derivative of the new Hawk followed in the autumn.
Hillman Husky 2, 3 (1958-1966)
A new-generation Husky estate car took over from the original type at the beginning of the year. Though still a short-wheelbase three-door estate car, the latest Husky was based on the bodyshell of the modern-generation Hillman Minx and initially had a 40bhp version of the 1.4-litre overhead-valve engine. The change-over from old-type to new-type Minx-family production at Rootes was now complete.
Singer Gazelle 1, 2 (1958-1961)
Soon after Rootes had taken control of Singer, the Gazelle was announced. This new model was effectively a new-type Hillman Minx, with an overhead camshaft Singer Hunter engine and a restyled nose. Priced slightly higher than the comparable Hillman Minx, the Gazelle gained the Hillman engine from 1958 -tailfins arrived in 1959. A marketing coup for Rootes, the Gazelle sold in reasonable numbers: 83,061.
Sunbeam Alpine S2 (1960-1963)
The new-generation Alpine appeared during the summer of 1959, this new sportscar being a subtle amalgam of available Minx / Rapier / Husky hardware, all clothed in a smart, befinned, two-seater sports style with wind-up door windows. As with all Rootes medium-sized cars of this period, the platform was based on that of the Hillman Minx. Though there were extra cruciform members under the floor, and stiffening tubes in the engine bay. Series II models from 1960 used the bigger 1,592cc engine.
Hillman Minx 3 (1960-1963)
The first cars with an entirely monocoque body left the factory in May 1956. This new Minx was instantly recognisable by its panoramic rear window. The car had also grown in size with a wheelbase of 96 inches (2,440mm). Most of the extra 3 ¼ in (80mm) was for the benefit of rear seat passengers. There were also some mechanical improvements to the car. The new Minx had the front wheel suspension from the Sunbeam Rapier.
Singer Vogue 1, 2 (1961-1964)
The Vogue was the first of a new generation of medium-sized Rootes cars to be launched (the future Hillman Super Minx and Humber Sceptre models would be built on same base). Like the existing Minx/Gazelle ranges, which continued, the Vogue had a conventional four-dour saloon monocoque structure, this time being powered by a 62bhp/1,592cc version of the familiar Rootes engine.
Hillman Super Minx (1961-1967)
The Singer Vogue came first, in July, but the Hillman Super Minx, announced in October, was the lower-priced basic version of the design from which that car was developed. Compared with the Vogue, which looked similar except for its nose and the interior trim, the Super Minx was less well equipped, though it shared the same 62bhp/1.6-litre engine and choice of manual or Easidrive transmissions. Drum rather than disc front brakes were standard.
Sunbeam Tiger 1 (1964-1966)
The Tiger made its debut in April 1964, with all the style changes already phased in for the Alpine Series IV, but with a 4.2-litre Ford-USA gearbox and a Salisbury back axle. Rack-and-pinion steering with very strange geometry was fitted, while the rear-axle movement was kept partly in check by a Panhard rod. Initially, all Tiger deliveries were aimed at the USA - British sales would begin in spring of 1965.
Hillman Imp Californian (1967-1970)
The Imp Californian was a smart, lowered-roof, fastback coupe version of the Hillman Imp, still with two doors and the same single-carburettor engine. For the Californian, the rear window was fixed, not hinged, and there was less head-room in the rear seats. This was an interesting little niche model, which sold well. A much more powerful version of it, the Sunbeam Stiletto, would be announced later in the year.
Hillman Hunter (1966-1970)
As a replacement for the Super Minx, the new Hunter was the first of a comprehensive family of "Arrow"-designated cars to be launched by the Rootes Group, with a Singer Vogue version soon joining in and estate cars, Minx and Singer Gazelle types all set to follow in 1967. In many ways lighter and more obviously cost-conscious than previous Minx/Super Minx cars had ever been. The style was simple, but neat, hiding a conventional Rootes Group engine/transmission driveline.