60 Years of the Hillman Imp

60 Years of the Hillman Imp

Hillman Imp

The Hillman Imp, a small British car, has an illustrious history that spans six decades. First introduced in 1963, this compact car quickly became an iconic vehicle in the United Kingdom and beyond. Despite its relatively short production run, the Hillman Imp made a lasting impact on the automotive industry and the hearts of enthusiasts. In this article, we will take a journey through the remarkable 60-year history of the Hillman Imp.

The Birth of an Icon

In the early 1960s, the British car market was dominated by larger, more conventional cars. However, Rootes Group, the company behind Hillman, decided to break the mold and introduce a compact car to cater to a changing market. The result was the Hillman Imp, a rear-engine, compact car that was designed to compete with the likes of the Mini and the Ford Anglia.

The Imp was revolutionary in many ways. Its rear-engine design allowed for a spacious interior, despite its small size. The car’s design was a departure from the norm, featuring a sleek and modern look that was ahead of its time. It was an instant hit with the public and the press.

Racing Success

The Hillman Imp wasn’t just a popular choice for daily commuters; it also made a name for itself in the world of motorsport. In the 1960s, the Imp achieved significant success in various racing events. It competed in events like the British Saloon Car Championship and even the famous Monte Carlo Rally.

The Imp’s agility, thanks to its rear-engine layout and lightweight construction, made it a formidable competitor on the track. It earned a reputation for its excellent handling and performance, which endeared it to racing enthusiasts. The Imp’s racing achievements added to its appeal, making it a sought-after car both on and off the track.

The Evolution of the Imp

Over the years, the Hillman Imp underwent several transformations. Rootes Group introduced various body styles, including a van, estate, and even a sporty coupe. These variants helped the Imp cater to a broader audience, from families to young professionals and sports car enthusiasts.

In the 1970s, the Imp received a facelift with improved safety features, better handling, and a more refined interior. The car continued to evolve, adapting to changing automotive standards and consumer preferences. However, as the automotive industry continued to evolve, the Imp faced increasing competition from foreign car manufacturers.

The Decline and Legacy

By the late 1970s, the Hillman Imp faced stiff competition from other small car offerings, and Rootes Group was struggling financially. In 1976, the last Hillman Imp rolled off the production line. Its production run had lasted for over a decade, and during that time, it had left an indelible mark on the automotive world.

Although the Imp ceased production, its legacy lived on. The car became a classic, and enthusiasts around the world continued to cherish and restore these iconic vehicles. The Hillman Imp Owners Club was formed, bringing together fans who shared a passion for this unique British car. Today, vintage Imps can be seen at car shows and in the hands of collectors who keep the spirit of the Imp alive.

The Imp’s Enduring Popularity

The Hillman Imp’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its innovative design, its impressive racing history, and its place in the hearts of those who owned and admired it. Over the years, the car has also gained a following among classic car collectors and restorers, who take pride in preserving the Imp’s heritage.

In recent years, the demand for classic cars has grown, and this has extended to the Hillman Imp. Restored Imps have become sought-after collectibles, and their value has appreciated significantly. The Imp’s enduring charm and unique design continue to captivate enthusiasts, ensuring its place in the automotive history books.


As we celebrate 60 years of the Hillman Imp, it’s clear that this compact British car has left an indelible mark on the automotive world. From its revolutionary design to its racing success and enduring popularity, the Imp is a true icon. While it may no longer be in production, its legacy lives on in the hearts of enthusiasts and on the roads where well-preserved Imps continue to turn heads.

The Hillman Imp reminds us that even small cars can make a big impact. Its story is a testament to innovation, resilience, and the enduring love affair between the British public and their beloved cars. Here’s to the Hillman Imp and the memories it has created over the past six decades.

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