THINKING MAN’S MINX
The Series VI represented the pinnacle of pre-Rootes Arrow Hillman Minxes but was still loaded with 1960s charm. Our Nick tries a rare automatic saloon for size WORDS Nick Larkin PHOTOGRAPHY Magic Car Pics
Evolution not revolution’ might sound like a line from a 1960s protest song, but it also neatly sums up this Hillman Minx Series VI. The Minx was considered something of an ageing labrador by the mid-1960s, dating as it did directly back to the first Audax model introduced nearly ten years earlier. The question was, would the last model – the Series VI – be biddable and friendly, or would it bite?
The Minx had been gradually refined and improved over the years, with the restyled 1963-on Series V featuring various mechanical improvements, including a Borg-Warner 35 transmission in place of the old Smiths Easidrive automatic. However, when The
Motor tested one in January 1964 it reported that take-off was rather sluggish and the acceleration was limited by the number of steps in the transmission.
Enter, in autumn 1965, the Series VI, complete with a 1725cc engine and a five bearing crankshaft in place of the old 1592cc unit. It was capable of mustering 65bhp but despite actually being tuned to 58.5bhp (to deliver better fuel economy), which could still take the Minx to a maximum speed of 82mph.
First impressions of this example are of a neatly styled car with lashings of chrome. An air of quality engulfs you when you settle inside, the door closes with a muted thud and the interior still looks remarkably modern for something that’s half a century old. This later Minx has a wood-effect dashboard rather than the previous painted metal and the instruments are clear and easy to read. It’s the same story with the choke and various switches, whose functions are outlined in neat white print. The large steering wheel, complete with chrome horn ring, looks a little bare with just the indicator stalk next to it for company because the automatic gear selector is mounted on the floor.
Ease the shifter into Drive, feel the tiniest of shudders and we’re off. Progress feels quite sprightly – accompanied by an almost musical soundtrack – and the gearchanges are delightfully smooth. It cruises well too, and while there’s no 1980s BMW-style kickdown to propel you forwards, the sturdy 1725cc engine delivers quite a bit of power and first and second gears can be selected manually if you need a bit more control.
The brakes (front discs on this model) are surprisingly good and visibility is excellent. The worm-and-nut steering is pleasingly light and responsive and the suspension – independent coil springs and wishbones up front, live axle and leaf springs at the back – delivers predictable handling. There’s some understeer but the Minx was one of the better handling family cars of its class and era and can deal with anything from sharp bends to sweeping corners without any indication that the back end might step out of line.
No question – this car exceeds expectations.
1725cc OHV fivebearing engine lends the Series VI Minx more power. Restrained rear fins and higher roofline denote the Minx Series V and VI.