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Hillman Avenger. Rootes' first and last Chrysler-flagged creation

For years, Hillman had built the Minx over several generations. The Minx was allowed to retire in 1970, and by now it was clear what Rootes used as a new asset. The Hillman Avenger hit the scene in February 1970, taking on rivals from British Leyland, Vauxhall (Viva) and Ford (Escort / Cortina). The Avenger was the last car to be developed by Rootes after the takeover by Chrysler. The B-Car it lasted in Europe until the end of 1981. We wrote a review of the fifty-year-old, who turned out to be tougher than many people thought.


The Hillman Avenger was also known as Sunbeam 1250/1500 (later 1300/1600). It was sold in various countries (including the Netherlands) with the engine capacity as type indication. In terms of design, the Avenger was striking, and not typically British. The Avenger's technology was draped in a bodywork designed by Roy Ax with a coke-bottle design. That was a clear nod to the American design pencils of the time. The rear was reminiscent of the Opel Kadett Fliessheck and the Opel Olympia A, and offered a considerable space (over 500 liters) for luggage. The self-supporting body hides conventional engine technology. The chassis consisted of independent suspension at the front with Mc Pherson at the front. A live axle was mounted at the rear. Remarkable: all versions got disc brakes on the front wheels.

Multiple versions

The press was positive about the driving characteristics of the rear-wheel drive Hillman Avenger. People were also content with the equipment levels. The Hillman Avenger was available in DL, Super and GL versions, and initially only as a four-door version. The first two trim levels were available in conjunction with the 1.250 cc and 1.500 cc engine, the GL only with the last power unit. The DL was quite soberly equipped, the GL with a lot of chrome and double headlights, on the other hand, caught the eye. Initially it was also the only Avenger in which a set of instruments with round clocks was mounted.

GT, nice addition

A nice addition was the 1970 GT. It was exclusively available with a 1.500 engine with twin carburettors. The GT was, among other things, recognizable by the striping at the bottom of the flanks and had separate wheel covers. There was also a real, very bare entry-level on the program. In 1972 a new body style was added to the range. That was the station, which was also available in several trim levels. They also brought the GLS, a mix of the GL and the GT, simply put. And in '73 a two-door version followed.

Potent topper

The top version (for the street) was the Tiger, which got a 1500 cc engine with modified cylinder head and larger valves. Also mounted Chrysler Competition Center two doubles Weavercarburettors. The compression ratio was 9,4: 1. The power was 92 HP, the top of the Hillman Avenger Tiger was 175 kilometers per hour. The top from zero to one hundred took around nine seconds. The Tiger took the measure in terms of specifications competitor Escort RS. The buyer had to pay for the potential of the Tiger with a high consumption. In other words: the tiger was in the tank but disappeared quite quickly.

Tiger. Loved and little built

The Tiger got the chassis, the box and the brakes from the GT. Sports rims and spoilers left nothing to guess about the aspirations. In fact, with the arrival of the Hillman Avenger Tiger, they wanted to crown the success, because the Avenger sold well in the first years. The Tiger itself was less popular. He came in two series. The first was built 200 times, the second 400 times. Special: the second series was only available in bright red and bright yellow, and had a matte black bonnet, in the spirit of the time. The hub, which had the first series in the hood, had disappeared with the second series.

Motor changes

In the run-up to 1973, the range was expanded again, now motorized. The 1250 engine was now also available with two carburettors, resulting in an output of 67 DIN-HP. In various markets (including in the Netherlands) it was offered as a Sunbeam 1250 TC, above the De Luxe version level. In addition, an Avenger with this engine got power brakes as standard, just like the heavier motorized brothers.

Oil crisis and new engines

The moment the oil crisis set in, the Avenger hailed new engines. The displacement of the 1250 and 1500 went to 1300 and 1600 cc respectively. The cylinder head was adapted for both for better fuel consumption. Torque and power increased. The 1300 cc was available with one and two carburettors again, the 1600 cc in was also available with two carburettors in combination with the more expensive versions. Due to the increasing emission requirements, the GLS and the GT with 1600 engine were eventually only allowed to do with one carburettor.

As Hillman / Sunbeam until 1976

Coincidence or not, the oil crisis cut the sales of the sympathetic Avenger. It ran as Hillman (so for us as Sunbeam 1300/1600) until 1976. Special mention should be made of the two-door GT (with a black roof that extends to the c-pillar) and the stunner from 1974: the Avenger-BRM, available to order. It had a beefed-up twin-cam BRM engine with four valves per cylinder. The BRM was mainly ordered for rallies and that was done in combination with a 1600, 1800 and 2000 engine. The latter delivered 205 HP, and was a real bomb.

Change of brand names with facelift, concept ends as VW 1500

In 1976, the names Hillman and Sunbeam disappeared in relation to the Avenger. After a major facelift, it continued as Chrysler. Later he went through life as Talbot. Production at LInwood ended in 1981, just as sales picked up again. The Avenger was also available in other markets. It was sold in America as Plymouth Cricket in the early 1500s. That party was quickly over due to rust problems and reliability issues. In South America it ran as Dodge 1800 and 1980 at Chrysler do Brasil, and from 1500 it was also sold as Volkswagen (!) 3, not to be confused with Type 1990. In 69, production stopped. All in all, the B-Car concept ran for twenty years, demonstrating the global sustainability of the 70/XNUMX concept.


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4 Comments

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  1. Synchronizing carburettors is a patience job and you need the right equipment. And carburettors remain sensitive to weather influences, they can do it perfectly in the winter and in the summer with the same adjustment your car runs like a newspaper,… so it is a happy medium.

  2. Still, the latest version had trouble synchronizing with the carburettors, always remained a bit behind the facts. Furthermore, the type is a kind of Opel Kadett.

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