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the 1965 Hillman Super Minx Mk3

the 1965 Hillman Super Minx Mk3


1965 Hillman Super Minx Mk3

A 1965 Hillman Super Minx Mk3 owned by Dr Jon Murden, the chief executive of the National Motor Museum Trust

Today, the Hillman name seems as remote as Emergency Ward Ten on ITV, but in the 1960s a Super Minx was seen in managerial car parks, smart housing estates and gracing various B-films. Dr Jon Murden, the chief executive of the National Motor Museum Trust, owns this handsome 1965 Mk3.

The Rootes Group – consisting of Hillman, Humber, Singer, and Sunbeam – originally devised the Super Minx as the successor to its Audax series, which had been in production since 1956. However, the company made the slightly quixotic decision to produce both for a time, resulting in a confused marketing approach to its medium-sized saloons.

The Super Minx debuted in 1961, while motorists with boardroom ambitions could aim for the badge-engineered Singer Vogue. By 1963, Rootes introduced the more powerful and luxurious Humber Sceptre. The brochure promised Super Minx buyers “figure contoured” front seats and  “Power. Energy. Vitality”, with its 1.6-litre engine providing “zestful performance”.

The Super Minx cost £768 upon its releaseThe Super Minx cost £768 upon its release

The Super Minx cost £768 upon its release

The Telegraph approved of the Super Minx’s “sports-car-type centre floor gear lever” and its 80mph top speed. Rootes also built the Hillman in Australia, New Zealand (as the Humber 90), South Africa and Italy. Meanwhile, the company’s PR office arranged Super Minx appearances on screen, notably the excellent Peter Vaughan comedy-thriller Smokescreen.

Rootes had a long tradition of regularly updating its cars, the Super Minx gaining front disc brakes and, by late 1964, six-window styling with a semi-razor-edged roof. The Mk3 also featured improved rear suspension and all-synchromesh transmission. Autocar regarded it as “a family car, designed for long and faithful service, and as such should give much satisfaction”.

The Super Minx cost £768 17s 1d and owners with flamboyant tastes could order whitewall tyres for £7 5s. Other extras included a radio to listen to Saturday Swings on the BBC Light Programme for another £27 1s 6d. The Mk3’s main domestic rivals included the Austin A60 Cambridge at £737, the almost identical Morris Oxford Series VI at £747 and the FC-series Vauxhall Victor De Luxe for £775.

Owners with flamboyant tastes could order whitewall tyres for £7 5sOwners with flamboyant tastes could order whitewall tyres for £7 5s

Owners with flamboyant tastes could order whitewall tyres for £7 5s

However, the Ford Cortina Mk1 1500 Super cost only £714 and by 1965 too many potential Super Minx buyers were opting for the Dagenham-built product. In addition, in the previous year Chrysler had acquired 30 per cent of the Rootes Group’s voting shares and 50 per cent of the non-voting shares. The Coventry firm, weakened by industrial disputes and teething problems with its rear-engined  Hillman Imp, could no longer retain its independence.

The Hillman Hunter replaced the Super Minx saloon in 1966, with the Estate version available until 1967. The Rootes name vanished three years later, while the Hillman marque was discontinued in 1976. By the 1980s, Super Minx numbers were rapidly diminishing as it became a car more often seen in black and white films on afternoon television.

Only 268 Super Minxes are believed to be roadworthy. Murden bought his Mk3 from the Hampshire dealer Milestones. The side flash gives it a jaunty look, while the interior boasts reclining front seats, chrome-rimmed instruments and lids to dim the warning lights. There is also a fresh air vent to cool the driver’s kneecaps.

Only 268 Super Minxes are believed to be roadworthy todayOnly 268 Super Minxes are believed to be roadworthy today

The interior boasts reclining front seats, chrome-rimmed instruments and lids to dim the warning lights

The Murden fleet also includes a 1957 Hillman Minx; he finds the Super Minx feels modern by comparison. “It does feel surefooted and happy on dual carriageways, although the optional overdrive would be beneficial when I am on the motorway.” The slim pillars also help to give the Mk3 the illusion of size, even if it is several inches shorter than a 2023 Ford Focus.

One of the main attractions of this car to Murden is the “shrunken American styling” of postwar Rootes Group cars. The Super Minx’s hooded headlights and vestigial tail fins bring echoes of late 1950s Detroit to the mean streets of Lymington. It is a car from when popular entertainers and sales managers in Yeovil aspired to the American dream.

And who could possibly resist that “smart modern styling with long, sleek, lines”?



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