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 Hillman Avenger


The Hillman  Avenger was produced from 1970 to 1981
10 engines from 1.2 to 1.5 liter and power from 53hp to 92hp, are on Histomobile.

Designer : Roy Axe

Hillman Avenger 

The Hillman Avenger was released late in 1970, initially as a four door saloon only with 1250 or 1500cc engines. Engines grew and the body and trim levels abounded over the long production run of this delightful little car, manufactured later under Chrysler and Talbot badges in the UK, and also sold under the Plymouth Cricket name elsewhere in the world. Production ceased in England in 1981, though the car was then made until 1990 in Argentina by the VW group (pictures at bottom). They were also built in Brazil from 1973 until 1981 by Chrysler do Brasil, under the names Dodge 1800 and later Dodge Polara.

The Hillman Avenger was a widely misunderstood car technically. People felt that the technology in it was dated, and yet this was not really the case. It was a completely new car from the ground up, not at all based upon the Hillman Minx (Arrow Minx, later known as Hunter) despite looking similar. In particular the engine appeared primitive, since it was an all-iron construction with pushrod valve operation rather than overhead cam, not cross-flow, and with apparently low-tech cylinder design. In fact, the Avenger engine was very strong indeed, designed to be quiet, and to meet the tougher exhaust emission restrictions being imposed at the time in the USA. It would rev up to a very respectable 7000 rpm, in part because the camshaft was set high at the side of the engine to allow short pushrods. This was an attempt at approaching overhead cam performance without the expense. Performance from the 1500 or 1600 engines was respectable, even sports-like, due to the low weight, and the road handling set the standard to beat for the next decade. Back in the early 70's a car magazine raced a Hillman Avenger with a variety of sports cars of the day, and the shock was that the Avenger won.
Anyone who is unconvinced at the thought that went under the bonnet of the Hillman Avenger should compare the inlet manifold from the carburettor of an Avenger to a similarly aged Ford Escort. See how the distance that the fuel flows from the carburettor to the engine is the same for each cylinder on the Avenger, not so the Ford.
One of the main aims of the Hillman Avenger design was to create a car with excellent road manners and light weight. Both of these objectives were achieved very well, the road tests of the time sung the praises of the lightweight car with unusually good handling. Computer aided design was applied to the body shell construction which resulted in not only reduced weight but an immensely strong cabin, this being one of the first cars in the world utilising computers for design. In a moment of dreadful insanity I finished up with an Avenger on its side one day, having parted company with a slippery road. The car was so strong that no significant damage was done to it, not even a broken window.
The weight constraints did have a few minor side effects, one was that that overdrive or fifth gear was never provided on a standard road car, though a very few rally cars were built with five speed boxes. A lot of work went into the differential drive unit to keep its weight down, but in my experience these units do become noisy with age. The roof was prestressed and load bearing, so care would be needed if any after-market sunroof were contemplated, though some later Avengers had them factory fitted. The floorpans were protected using an electrophoretic primer system and acrylic enamel paint, so reducing the weight by removing the need to underseal the whole car. This probably caused more Avengers to die than any other failing, the front floorpans would rust out.
It was said that there was nothing actually new in the Hillman Avenger at all. Wrong, it was the first British production car to be fitted with a plastic radiator grille! Weight saving again. The typical Avenger was around 42lb lighter than a comparable Hillman Minx.

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