MELBOURNE’S Matthew Lambert is a Hillman collector. His devotion to the product of the venerable English car company, known by the quaint name the Rootes Group, began when his father took him to a car yard to choose something for his 18th birthday. Matthew picked a 1968 Hillman Hunter. Price: $400.
It was a sturdy conveyance, says Matthew: “I drove it all around Melbourne, and even as far as Brisbane and back, and I was impressed.” Things got serious in 1995, when he was still at university. He joined the Rootes Car Club and bought a very tired Hillman Hunter GT, the same type of car in which Andrew Cowan won the London to Sydney marathon rally.
Next came a bright yellow Hillman Imp, the small rear engine car Rootes developed to be a competitor for the Mini.
Another key vehicle in his collection is a 1968 Sunbeam Rapier. This car has probably generated more interest than any other vehicle Matthew has owned. Examples of this rare car hardly ever come up for sale, here in Australia or in the UK. It is a two-door hardtop fastback, and was styled to be a smaller version of the 1965 Plymouth Barracuda.
While restoring the Rapier Matt acquired a Hillman Super Minx Estate, lovingly hand-painted in charcoal by an earlier owner. There’s also a 1956 Series I Minx four-door sedan and a Series III Minx convertible – quite rare in Australia.
His next find was a Series III Minx, which was completely covered with pictures of Lady Diana gathered from magazines, and had been part of an exhibition at the Birdwood Motor Museum in South Australia. Matthew recently rescued another Hillman Hunter from the elements and found another Sunbeam Rapier. He owns half of the Rapier contingent thought to be in Australia. - By David Burrell, online editor of Retroautos