Curbside Capsule: 1951 Hillman Minx

1951 Hillman Minx Audi Q3

(first posted 2/3/2016)    Looking back on photos after you have seen a CC on the street can be interesting.  Parked next to this saucy old Minx is something that illustrates a theory I have about modern cars; too bad I didn’t think of it at the time to get more of the Audi Q3 into the shot.

1951 Hillman Minx front

The Minx is a lot narrower than the Q3 at 62” wide vs 72” (1575 vs 1831mm) as are its 5.00-16 tyres! It is a little shorter at 160” vs 173” (4064 vs 4385mm), but has a quite similar overall height (60” vs 62.6”, 1524 vs 1590mm) and ground clearance (7” vs 6.7”, 178 vs 170mm). A similar relationship can be seen in larger vehicles too. It will take a pretty steep driveway to scrape the undersides, and you aren’t likely to catch the front bumper on the concrete wheel stop in a car park.

1951 Hillman Minx side

On the other hand the powertrain is a 1265cc side-valve 4-cylinder backed up by a 4-speed manual; an automatic was a few years away yet. On the other hand the Q3’s engine size is surprisingly similar at 1.4L, although it is turbocharged engine and has a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The Audi has nearly four times the horsepower, but is more than 1.5 times the weight: 3263 vs just 2070 lb. Of course the Minx is a lot slower with a top speed of around 65 mph – perfectly adequate when 50 mph was a typical cruising speed – but it also uses more fuel than the Audi.

1951 Minx interior

Updated photo – the interior of the 1951 Minx

I don’t think you can compare interior appointments between an early-1950s car and a modern one! The windshield of the CUV is more upright than a conventional car and side windows usually have less inwards curvature, which creates a more spacious feel than aerodynamically influenced modern sedans but can’t compare with a more upright early-50’s car. A significant deficiency in many modern cars is poor rear seat head room; another factor that I think helps CUV sales. An early-fifties car would have been designed to accommodate passengers wearing hats.

1951 Hillman Minx rear

So there you have it, CUV’s are a return to the “form factor” of 1950’s cars, before the longer/lower/wider trend set in!