SO yeah, chances are you’ve never heard of a Hill­man Hunter Hustler. That’s cool – it was made a long time ago and in quite small num­bers and – to be hon­est – most Hunters re­ally weren’t much chop com­pared to the Ford Corti­nas and Holden To­ranas that it more or less com­peted against.

But you’d have to agree that with its punchy red paint and era-cor­rect graph­ics – and a bit more poke un­der the bon­net – this one re­stored and owned by Garry Gill, is a two-thumbs-up kind of car!

“When these Hus­tlers came out with the colours and stripes they were very strik­ing,” re­calls Garry of his Englishderived, but Aus­tralian-as­sem­bled and Chrysler-mar­keted Hustler. “They were re­ally out-there and the Hunter was fa­mous for its suc­cess in the first Lon­don to Syd­ney Marathon (held in 1968).” In fact, one of just two Hunters en­tered in the bru­tal 16,000 kilo­me­tre event won in the hands of Eu­ro­pean ral­ly­ing ace, Scots­man An­drew Cowan (al­beit in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances) ahead of a gag­gle of Eu­ro­pean-pre­pared Ford Corti­nas, Aussie Fal­con GTs and even a Porsche.

The Hustler – the sportiest ver­sion of the Hunter range and an Aus­tralia-only model – ob­vi­ously made a last­ing im­pres­sion as decades later Garry went look­ing for one to re­store.

“A mate of mine found it in Vic­to­ria – it was just a shell,” ex­plains Garry. “I’d been look­ing for the right


one to do up as many of them aren’t worth the ef­fort due to the rust and dam­age. For in­stance I looked at one in WA; I was in­ter­ested in it but it was so rusty it prob­a­bly would have fallen apart on the trip over…”

That was five years ago. Af­ter get­ting his Vic­to­rian-buy home, Garry got stuck into find­ing all the parts and restor­ing the car straight away. Rust wise, the shell was good but the doors had some rust so bet­ter ones were sourced and hung from the shell. “It was re­ally clean for rust,” says Garry of the shell. “I got re­ally ver y lucky with that!”

Garry bought a sec­ond car to pro­vide some parts – in­clud­ing front sus­pen­sion and a rare over-drive gear­box. “I bought that one, grabbed the parts I needed and sold it on,” says Garry.

Garry says that the more he looked, the eas­ier com­po­nents be­came to find. That sounds ob­vi­ous, but what he was al­lud­ing to wasn’t ‘ef­fort equals re­sults’ but the fact that the word spread among other Hill­man en­thu­si­asts.

“You’ll meet one en­thu­si­ast and he’ll know three or four

oth­ers,” says Garry. “So some­one al­ways knows some­one and those peo­ple will of­ten have parts they’re will­ing to sell.”

The car was painted with help from a mate, Ben. Af­ter the bright orange – in mod­ern two-pack, it al­most looks red – paint was laid down, the Hustler’s unique graph­ics were a chal­lenge. “It wasn’t easy to get them done,” reck­ons Garry. “I’m lucky I had the orig­i­nal doors (to copy from) and with those and some pic­tures the sign writer was able to get it right.”

The wiring was a chal­lenge, too: “I wanted the whole car to be as orig­i­nal as pos­si­ble and it took me three at­tempts to get a de­cent wiring har­ness. The first two I found were more or less mu­ti­lated!”

Like most cars of the era, Hunters had a stan­dard bench front seat so the Hustler’s buck­ets (also used in some other mod­els such as the GT) were con­sid­ered quite racy. The front buck­ets and rear bench seats were re­cov­ered in pat­tern-cor­rect vinyl by a lo­cal

trim­mer. Although the Hunter was a largely British de­sign, the Hustler was a unique Aus­tralian model and be­ing dis­played and sold from Chrysler show­rooms along­side Valiants, had a bit of ‘Hey Charger’ mojo in its bright, stark styling.

“The grille was styled like the big­ger Valiant Pac­ers, too,” says Garry. “But those wheels are clas­sic Rostyle like a lot of other English her­itage cars like Minis and MGs. To be hon­est, I’m not sure if those wheels were made here or im­ported.”

The stan­dard Hunter had a sin­gle-carb mo­tor but the Hunter GT and later Hustler had a slightly higher per­for­mance 1725cc twin-carb mo­tor (with two 1 ¼ inch Strombergs) boast­ing an am­bi­tious 70kW. The al­loy-headed mo­tor was re­built by a lo­cal re­con­di­tion­ing firm, HP Sales. “They did an awe­some job,” reck­ons Garry.

Gary took the lit­tle Hill­man (ac­tu­ally, the tag of lit­tle is a bit de­mean­ing as in its era it was more of a mid-sized car) to the hugely pop­u­lar Chryslers on the Mur­ray event this year and was stoked to take home a tro­phy.

“I got sec­ond in the non-mus­cle [tro­phy class] out of about 800 cars,” Garry says proudly. “I thought that was pretty good, con­sid­er­ing what else was there! I had some very good feed­back from the judges.

“I don’t drive it much – only every two months or so – but it’s a re­ally cool lit­tle car to drive,” he says. “I also have a Corvette and, if any­thing, this is a nicer car on the free­way. I’m re­ally proud of what I’ve ac­com­plished with do­ing this one up.”


RIGHT A sports steer­ing wheel and racy vinyl pews dom­i­nate the sim­ple in­te­rior.BE­LOW A star is born.

BE­LOW Even the de­cals of this Aussie spe­cial are in keep­ing with its straight edge styling.LEFT Garry en­joys get­ting out and hus­tling his Hustler.

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