Driv­ing

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driven -

pseudo sport­ing ma­chin­ery. All that vis­i­ble from the out­side was a black ra­di­a­tor grille, Rostyle wheels and er, GLS badges. And there was some nice wood and fab­ric in­side.

The GLS re­ceived some mixed re­views, not least be­cause Chrysler’s up­grades to en­able the car to cope with this awe­some per­for­mance largely cen­tred around an ex­tra leaf spring in the rear sus­pen­sion.

Mo­tor praised the ‘ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, ex­cel­lent gearchange and over­drive,’ and said the car was ‘well-equipped with a beau­ti­ful in­te­rior fin­ish’ but didn’t like the poor rode, ex­ces­sive over­steer in the wet and the GLS be­ing ‘noisy when ex­tended’.

Au­to­car thought the car had fair han­dling but a tramp-prone back axle, good brakes and a rorty en­gine. It was ex­cel­lent value for money and gave ‘pretty ex­cit­ing per­for­mance with­out look­ing un­duly gar­ish’, but un­for­tu­nately con­cluded that the mag­a­zine would ex­pect ‘some at­ten­tion to sus­pen­sion and re­fine­ment be­fore be­ing able to rec­om­mend the car whole­heart­edly’.

Even the owner of our Stratford car, Les Oliver, ad­mit­ted the GLS was not par­tic­u­larly happy about go­ing round cor­ners. He has, how­ever owned his joy­ful 1972 Inca Yel­low ex­am­ple since 1974 and has never come un­stuck on a bend. The car cost £900.

‘I wanted a GLS af­ter read­ing in a mag­a­zine that it was faster than an MGB, and af­ter see­ing Rootes’ de­vel­op­ment en­gi­neer Bernard Unett cam­paign a GLS at Mal­lory Park,’ he says. His Hunter was re­stored over 1991-2, Les do­ing ev­ery­thing apart from the paint. It has now trav­elled al­most 160,000 miles, all but 17,000 of those with Les, who is GLS regis­trar of the Hill­man Own­ers’ Club. ‘We’ve tracked down 38 ex­am­ples from the 8000 built from 1972-1976, though there must be oth­ers out there.’ We hope there’s not go­ing to be one less Hunter af­ter Les hands the GLS’ keys over to us for the Stratford tour. Armed with the ‘74 brochure we be­gin at Shake­speare’s birth­place, where Chrysler put a Grasshop­per Green Hunter GLS in front of the place where the Bard was born in 1564. We find in the in­tro­duc­tion to Chrysler’s leaflet that the com­pany felt Stratford to be ‘fa­mil­iar, full of tra­di­tion and well-loved – just like the Hunter’. Er right.

We’ve had spe­cial per­mis­sion to park here and soon half the cam­era-own­ing pop­u­lace of Ja­pan has landed, although it’s an Amer­i­can tourist who pro­claims the car is a Dat­sun, just like the one she had back in the United States.

It was much harder than it looked for photographer and co-de­fen­dant in this ven­ture Richard Gunn to put the car in ex­actly the same po­si­tion as it was in ‘74. Even the road cam­ber had changed fol­low­ing pedes­tri­an­i­sa­tion.

A quick look around the house re­vealed, much to the de­light of Richard, a copy of the First Fo­lio, the 1623 col­lec­tion of Shake­speare’s work, a jug that prob­a­bly be­longed to William,

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