The Hillman Hunter Production Story

In March 1972 the Hunter range received an update that unlike the earlier ones, finally included some new parts. From this time all models began to receive new technologies as they were developed by component suppliers. None of these are known to have flowed on to Australian models.

HUNTER GLS; In March 1972 the last major new Hunter model was introduced, the Hunter GLS. It had a blacked-out Humber Sceptre grille and four headlamps, with the Holbay H120 engine, close-ratio gearbox and Rostyle wheels, all as fitted to the established Sunbeam Rapier H120 coupe.

At the same time the rest of the Hunter range received a new grille, and a new plastic fascia that retained the instruments as fitted to the previous timber types. Other changes were made to mechanical and electrical components. New steering wheels, plastic air filter housings, sealed-beam headlamps etc also appeared.

In October 1973 the whole range received several significant technical upgrades (heated rear glass, redesigned wiring system, four-speed automatic transmission etc). October 1974 saw another new grille, bumpers and tail trim panel, and October 1975 added several minor technical improvements (tamper-proof carburettors, rear wipers on the estates, etc). Also about this time, 1500 limited-edition Hunter Topaz models were built. This package-deal Super featured a list of 'goodies' including a black vinyl roof, Rostyle wheels and overdrive.

THE HUNTERS FADE OUT
The end of the British Hunter models is not well-recorded. What is generally stated is that the Hunter GT was discontinued in 1975, the GL and GLS in 1976. Only the De Luxe (DL) and Super saloons continued, with their assembly moving to the Northern Ireland Santry plant in 1976 and the cars becoming badged as Chryslers at an unknown point. Nothing has been found about when the Deluxe Estate ceased production. Humber and Sunbeam models also ceased in 1976.

Renamed as Chrysler Vogues for 1976 and with most models receiving a 2-litre Peugeot engine, South African assembly ceased at the end of the year. Only the Super remained in New Zealand production from 1976, perhaps as the last Hillman-badged new cars built (1977). Also from 1976 the Iranian Paykan versions began to include some locally-produced parts including a new grille, still with the small rectangular headlamps.

In September 1977 the two remaining British Chrysler Hunters received their last facelift, but there was little added that hadn't already appeared in earlier Rootes Arrow models. Both were fitted with four headlamps and a partly blacked-out Humber Sceptre grille. The Super also received a revised interior, vinyl roof and Rostyle wheels. The Super's new voltmeter replaced a blanking plate in the existing instrument dial. In the UK, both models continued until the last were sold in early 1979, assembly of the Super ending in New Zealand in September 1979.

Although the last Hunters were built under the Talbot brand, there is no evidence that Talbot badges were fitted to any Hunters from new. By 2014 there were reportedly only four surviving Chrysler Hunters on UK roads.

The Chrysler Hunter facelift did not appear in Iran. Instead a British restyle with wraparound blinkers appeared in the late 1970s and remained the styling basis until the last Bardo pick-ups were built in March 2015. British production of Paykan kits continued under Peugeot ownership until 1987, with the production line equipment sold to Iran Khodro in 1988.

Thanks to Jeff Thomson for this article.