British Hillman Hunters 1970-1972 (Part 3 of 3)
Our final part looks at the Hillman-badged Rootes Arrows from October 1970 to March 1972, paralleling much of the sales life of the Australian HE series.
The Hillman range was renamed, all models now being Hunters. The only significant changes to the cars were that all now had the grille and headlamps like our HC (even though we'd just discontinued it in our HE!) and various versions of the timber instrument panel replaced the familiar plastic strip-speedo instrument panel previously used on all Hillman models.
HUNTER DELUXE and HUNTER DELUXE ESTATE; Replaced the Minx Deluxe and Estate. Featured the instrument panel from the discontinued Singer Gazelle. Estates with 1496cc engines had the 4.22 final drive. Both saloon and estate were available with optional automatics. A 1725cc iron-head engine was standard with the automatic, and optional with the manual. This new estate was assembled in South Africa (with the 1618cc Peugeot 404 engine) and New Zealand (1725cc engine).
HUNTER GT; Replaced the Hillman GT. Featured a similar instrument panel to the Humber Sceptre (as did our Hunter GT and Hunter Royal 660) but was otherwise largely unchanged.
HUNTER GL and HUNTER GL ESTATE; Mechanically these were the same as the deleted Hunter Mk 2. The interior trim was of a higher quality than the Mk 2, including the unaltered Vogue timber instrument panel. The saloon had the 3.70 final drive in manuals and automatics, the 3.89 for cars with overdrive. At first it seems that all GL Estates had the 3.89 final drive whatever transmission was fitted, but by 1973 the 3.70 final drive was specified in the four-speed manual Estates.
This was not an entirely new car. In effect it was the deleted Singer/Sunbeam Vogue with an HC-style grille and Hillman badges. It replaced the Vogue in New Zealand in 1971 but South Africa continued to badge it as the Hillman Vogue, which they had since 1968.
HUNTER SUPER; Although a replacement for the Hunter Mk 2 in a marketing sense, mechanically and electrically it was similar to our HC Hunters except for having the old Singer Gazelle timber instrument panel. This meant no alloy cylinder head, no overdrive option and no alternator. In 1974 or 1975 the Mk 2 equipment was reinstated. No estate version was offered. CKD kits sent to New Zealand kept the Mk 2 Hunter specifications all along, so at first, the only real differences between the New Zealand Hunter Super and Hunter GL were limited to some trim detail and reversing lights.
The Super was a price and equipment 'repositioning' model, specified to place it mid-way between the GL and the Deluxe in the UK home market.
In March 1972 the British Hunter range was subject to the first of many relatively minor facelifts and technical upgrades that did not flow on to Australian cars before our production ceased in late 1972. So from this point, the British Hunter development becomes another story.
A huge thank you to Jeff Thomson for his excellent research and the sharing of his work with us!