This Scottish manufactured motor car was once the cheapest new car on the British market.

Hillman Imp fact file

Date

1973

Made in

Linwood, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland

Made by

Rootes Motors

Dimensions

Height 1.3m, length 3.6m, width 1.6m

Engine size

847cc

Transmission

4-speed manual gearbox

Production

Nearly half a million Imps were made, 50% of which were made in the first three years of production.

Museum reference

T.1991.9

On display

Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery, Level 6, National Museum of Scotland

Did you know?

The song projected onto the bonnet of our Imp is 'Letter from America' by The Proclaimers. The song refers to Scotland's long history of emigration.

Our Hillman Imp

Our Hillman Imp is the Deluxe version, with a compact rear engined motor. It was built by Rootes Motors, by then a subsidiary of Chrysler, at Linwood in Paisley in Renfrewshire in July 1973. The car only had one owner from new and is now on display in the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery.

Hillman Imp © photojennic/ Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Above: Hillman Imp in the Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery. Photo © Jenni Sophia Fuchs

Where was the Imp made?

Rootes pioneered the use of aluminium engines in a mass produced car and built a new computerised assembly plant in Linwood, near Paisley. A Government grant supported the plant, which created 6,000 jobs in an unemployment blackspot that had suffered many redundancies in the declining Clyde shipbuilding industry.

However, the workforce, who were mainly recruited from the shipbuilding industry, were inexperienced in the intricacies of motor vehicle assembly, and Imp build quality and reliability suffered accordingly.

The Imp was seen as a 'Scottish car' and was popular. At one point the basic Hillman Imp was the cheapest new car on the British market, which temporarily pushed up rather sluggish sales figures.

Hillman Imp Deluxe © www.imps4ever.info

Above: The Hillman Imp Deluxe courtesy of www.imps4ever.info.

Sporty Imp

The Imp enjoyed modest success in both club and international rallying and Rootes produced a special build called the Rally Imp in 1964. The Rally Imp featured many modifications over the standard model, the most important of which was an engine enlarged to 998 cc.

Imps were also successful racing cars. The private team of George Bevan dominated the British Saloon Car Championship in the early 1970s and won the championship in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

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