Is this Scotland's Mini?
The Hillman Imp is perhaps one of the most unlikely icons to emerge out of the motoring industry during the 60s and 70s. Its rocky road to production and during assembly never really hampered its relatively impressive sales figures.
The Imp was designed to rival the hugely popular Austin Mini and in 1963 manufacturing began. Rootes Group chose Linwood in Scotland to build their little economy vehicle and it’s perhaps this geographical position that has helped the Imp overcome its problems and become a “working class hero” in its own right. A classic.
Scotland had not produced a motor vehicle for the best part of four decades and so the Hillman Imp’s arrival was warmly welcomed by workers and consumers in equal measure. Despite turbulent times with industrial strikes and political uncertainty over 9,000 people were employed at its height of popularity.
However, that didn’t stop the car from having a whole host of issues and design flaws which soon led to a bad reputation for reliability.
But since when has that stopped car enthusiasts from falling in love with a motor?
The Hillman Imp had an awful lot going for it then and it still does now. That’s why they have such a faithful and almost cult following.
We met with several owners on the beautiful shores of Loch Lomond to hear about their Impish stories, memories and reasons for treasuring these little cars. Little Scottish cars, don’t forget.
Almost half a million Hillman Imps were produced in Linwood during production. How many of them still exist around the world is unknown but the models we filmed on one chilly day in April have to be some of the most well kept and cherished around.
Colin, Joe, John, Ian, Scott and Hugh have a huge passion for the Imp. And so does Scotland. With murals painted on walls and councils sponsoring Hillmans to complete the Monte Carlo Rally we soon got a sense of how special this particular classic is.
Its identity is forever ingrained in the community and although it may have never really competed with the Mini in terms of commercial success it still holds that same legendary status on its home turf.
Surely longevity, pride of place and iconic worth are the real measure of a car? Far beyond sales figures or length or production what is it that really makes a true classic?
Because talking in those terms, the Hillman Imp is a giant. Right?
CLICK TO ENLARGE