This photo seals the deal for me: I must spend time in Washington State at some point. Only in such a place will anyone in the US find this Hillman Minx, let alone an Isuzu P’up sharing the same space. Cohort contributor Eric Clem posted these pics, and since we recently ran an article about the Rootes Arrow series of cars, posting one of its “Audax” predecessors only makes sense.
This particular car is a Hillman Minx, the volume seller, and as luck would have it, it looks to be a Series I. If the tags are to believed, it’s a ’57 or possibly a ’56. Washington must allow motorists to re-register the same plates indefinitely.
Any similarity with contemporary Studebakers was intentional, as the Audax range was styled under the watchful eye of Raymond Loewy. On this narrow, short car, sized for life on the British Isles, the overall look could be described as awkward, but I find it very cute, like a cartoon car come to life. That wasn’t the goal, obviously, but it didn’t matter as these cars sold well.
The center mounted gauges suggest a desire for success in left-hand drive markets, but these cars were always rare in the US, making the sight of this car somewhat of a shock. Seeing as it is unrestored and parked where it is, it could very well be a daily driver. I would doubt that trailer hitch is still used, but if it is, it wouldn’t be the only one!
If it didn’t have the 57 Washington plates on it I would have guessed it was originally sold in Vancouver. British Columbia was still very British in the 1950’s.
When I was 10-ish I’d asked my Uncle Peter for help in convincing my parents to let me buy a derelict 64 Impala and his response was I’d have better success with a $50 Hillman. Sure enough there was one just like this visible over the fence of a local wreckers, but no deal.
In Washington a classic car owner has three choices of plates. Regular, new-issue plates is the way yo go if it is to be a DD. One may also get a new “Collector” plate (rear-only) or a pair of plates from the year the vehicle was sold new. These options have a one-time registration fee and never expire. For both the second choices the vehicle is legally only supposed to be used to drive to shows and such, although most officers will look the other way unless they/you are being a real jerk that day.
Since the “collector” plates are issued singly, it’s possible to do a year-of-manufacture registration with one plate too. But quite a few people do use pairs. The plates on this particular car were actually issued in 1957 too – the high number, painted border, and 6×12 size are all indications. It’s even possible that they’re the car’s original plates.
I do remember seeing the occasional Hillman Minx back in the day in western WA – it’s been a long time now though.
I well remember these O.K. little cars in the 1960’s when any brand could sell any car as long as it was cheap to buy and easy on the .27 CENTS a gallon gas .
Having owned a few Hillman products (mostly Huskys) I am more partial to the Austin offerings but they’re cute and reliable , easily get 30+ MPG too .
BTW : Wa. State has always been chock full of old ‘ Survivor ‘ vehicles due to low rust out .
Lovely Hillman. My childhood (1950s to 60s in southern England) was spent being driven in a succession of Hillman Minxes until my father bought an MG Magnette, followed by an Austin 1800, the car I drove a lot when I first passed my test.
Our Sunday afternoons often comprised driving around to see what cars were on offer, Sunday being a good day as none of the salesmen would be around (rather different now!).
When I moved away from home after a year or two I felt I colud afford a car so asked my father to look out for something suitable for me. Inevitably he found a lovely Hillman Minx which had obviously been cherished by its previous owner and was in really lovely condition and it served me well for about three years until it was stolen from St Pancras station car park, which wasn’t altogether surprising as you could open the door lock with a small flat screwdriver! Never saw it again unfortunately.
Memories of the one dad brought home at lunch time summer of ’61 – and for some reason that car (black, by the way) still sticks with me. I’d love to have one of my own now.
There were plenty of these around in 60s Britain.A mate of Dad’s had one the same colour though I think it may have been a later one as it had small fins,he kept it til 1982 as a daily driver but had to get an automatic.The Minx was on display in the Talbot showroom for quite a while
Around 1980 or ’81 one of these appeared in a driveway down the road from where I lived at the time, with a for sale sign in the window. Of course I had to check it out. It looked pretty decent, especially for a Midwest car, and ran OK. Then I started climbing underneath. I’m not sure what was holding the thing together…it was pretty crunchy. It would have made a good parts car, if you could find another one that needed parts.
Isn’t this one the twin to the car owned by kiwibryce? I have become a fan of the Minx over the last few years. Maybe it is the mini-53 Studebaker vibe that the car emits. One of these could be a very fun little hobby car.
I think Bryce has a later one with more of a fin.Same colour though
Pretty cool they are next to each other; that Minx is that P’up’s grandfather!
Great survivor find. I’ve been hoping to find an Audax here on the streets, but no luck, although I did find a Husky on a trailer. It’s still awaiting my attentions, like so many others…
These were surprisingly common in Iowa in the early 60s; being a university town, it had plenty of imports from the 50s, and Hillmans seemed to survive longer than average.
My grandfather (a Scottish immigrant to Rhode Island) had one of these in a dark steel gray color through the late 60s (when he replaced it with a Cortina Mk II). I wish I could find the picture of him standing next to it in our Philly-area driveway in 1966, with the snow banks along the side up to his shoulders. I only recall one other time the snow as that deep, the Blizzard of ’78, though from weather reports this year may be close? (It’s 80 degrees in San Diego today).
This year has been distinguished by freezing to death, not being buried alive, as in ’78.
I once saw one of these around Brookline or Boston, MA
Its showing signs of blocked door drain holes but its remarkably rust free for its age better than my 59 when I got it.
Better than my friend’s series 1 when he bought that too. His has since been repainted and is now his daily driver, still on cross-ply tires too.
Mine is in the carport for repairs but is back on biscuit sized tyres nowhere near as good at holding the road as the others, this seems to be a 56/57 going by the photos quite a rare car actually not many survive in original condition, two tone paint was optional then so this is an upmarket example no radio or heater as stock though people were tougher back then I guess.
Yes it is a series 1. The vertical grille bars with centre cross-piece mimic the last of the previous generation Mark 8a. I can identify this one, it is the Series 3A/B/C where I fall down.
In 1963/4 I had one of these. If I recall correctly, my Minx was a ’58. It was on a used car lot in Shawnee, OK, and I bought it real cheap because the body was rough. (And, of course, who else wanted a Hillman Minx?) I was a college student with a part-time job and didn’t have the money to get anything better. An overnight session with bondo and paint made it look better. One time a bolt that held the exhaust manifold broke. Glue–yes, glue–held it on for a while. The engine vibrated a lot and the column shift (in Hillman’s reversed pattern) was loose. A shift from 2nd to 3rd could be accomplished with gravity alone to pull the lever down. Yet, the car never left me stranded.
Does some body have a right hand door card?.
Would those lap belts befitted from new
Audax Minxs, Super Minxes, etc etc are quite good cars from the UK, and would make excellent classics if it weren’t for their pedestrian reputation which meant that they were rarely loved and preserved. The body structure is a welded unit that was very over engineered, meaning they could rust quite severely before needing to be scrapped, while equally being very difficult to repair well due to the hidden rust traps and a lack of bolt-on body panels. Most ‘restored’ cars I’ve looked at to buy have been made of more body filler than steel or with welded cover sills that undoubtably hide all sorts of nasties underneath. A shame really, as compared to the Farina Cambridges, they were much more modern and competent vehicles, as Rootes was very keen on improving their product every year with genuine engineering improvements, while BMC just let their products rot development wise, sticking with 1930s technology well into the 80s (Mr lever-arm Morris Ital, I’m looking at you).
re the door card, that’s easy enough to do- these were usually just a piece of hardboard with a bit of vinyl stretched over and stapled and maybe one or two character lines. I don’t think they had lap belts from new, as I think the fittings were only mandatory from the mid-60s onwards. My ’61 Rover doesn’t have seat belt fittings, but the ’63s do. Most British cars also had 3-point belts from the beginning of the seat belt era rather than making do with the lap belts. It was all rather academic though, as any head on collision would displace the solid steering column towards the driver belted or otherwise (cue driver’s training films). I just think of seatbelts in my Rover as being helpful for enabling the recovery crews to find my body inside the car rather than outside.
What a find!
This would be something in Coventry, never mind Eugene
You only see something like this in the UK at a car show
Made my day!