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

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Driving -

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.

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