Buying a Series Minx

[Image: Series IIIA (or IIIB) Hillman Minx]

INTRODUCTION

The Minx provided transport for a great many people in the Fifties and Sixties and a surprising number are still in everyday use. To a degree they have been overlooked in the classic scene, with the result that prices are reasonable.

The convertibles are most in demand and provide open top motoring for up to four adults. The useful estate cars are comparatively rare.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 5/10/94)

Although a large number of Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelle cars were made between 1956 and 1967 there are not many chances to buy one of these cars today. Medium-sized saloons built for the mass market have tended to have a low survival rate compared with sports cars and luxury saloons, but although the numbers of Minxes and Gazelles have greatly diminished over the years, a substantial number have managed to outlive their contemporaries and are still in regular use. Why are owners reluctant to part with these cars and why do they still provide such good value for money today?

The Minx and Gazelle were amongst the early Rootes cars to be built without a chassis, but whilst other manufacturers adopted a wholehearted approach to unitary construction and produced light body shells whose strength was derived from their complicated structure, Rootes displayed less boldness, preferring simplicity of design and a generous safety margin as far as the strength of the bodyshell was concerned. The cars are therefore relatively heavy, and a little slower and thirstier than others with similar power outputs, but today these reserves of strength can be seen as a majorbonus as bodyshell repairs are arguably the most important aspect of a restoration and certainly the most difficult as far as the do-it-yourself enthusiast is concerned.
"Buying a Series Minx/Gazelle" (Practical Classics, Jan 1982)

Hillman Minxes are available at bargain prices. Most of those on the market will be Series V (1963 - 65) or Series VI models (1965 - 66). They are not so sought after as earlier Series cars, but they are more usable and cheaper.

The Series V replaced the Minx IIIC/1600. The Series V used the same engine and running gear with an updated body shell. The same shell was retained for the Series VI and fitted with the more powerful 1725cc five-bearing engine.

The engine and other components are rugged and long-lasting. Spares are easy to find. The smaller-engined car will reach 80 m.p.h. and the Series VI is 5 mph faster and livelier.

FOR: Comfortable cars with good headroom and reasonable legroom. Neat rather than luxurious interior and a smart dashboard. Predictable handling, 60 - 65 mph. cruising.

AGAINST: Very rust-prone. Front wings expensive and difficult to replace as they are welded on. Rear springs tend to sag with age. Engines develop leaks from timing cover and rear of sump. Steering heavy and tyre wear above average.
"Classics Under 800" (Practical Classics, Nov 1993)

All the Series Minxes are plaesant to drive and have a nice, solid feel. Performance, handling and roadholding are on a par with contemporary saloons from other manufacturers.

Saloon and convertible boots are spacious, being deep, long and quite wide. They also have a load sill only just above bumper height. For optimum load-lugging ability, the five-door estates are worth considering - if you can find one, for they are now rare, as are the two-door Husky models, which also make useful dual-purpose vehicles.

Fuel consumption in all models will be about 25 mpg in town use and in the low thirties when cruising.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 5/10/94)

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

In view of the age of the cars (the youngest being nearly 30 now), rust is the main problem on any of the variants. Having said that, the cars are not especially rist-prone and many original examples are still sound. Neglected and well-used Minxes can suffer in a number of areas, including the inner and outer sills, the edges of the floor pans, the jacking points on each side, the boot floor, the inner wings and the metal work surrounding the rear spring hangers. In addition, if you are considering a convertible, examine the diagonal underbody bracing peculiar to this model.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 5/10/94)

Although few Minxes and Gazelles are advertised for sale, even an apprantly respectable example should be examined thoroughly for rust to ensure that the repair of any damage will not be disproportionately expensive or unduly difficult in view of the scarcity of body panels.

The front valence forms a shelf behind the grille and tends to rust where it joins the wings. Under the front wings check the area around the headlamps which is exposed to mud etc. thrown up by the wheels, and look at the upper part of each inner wing which forms a ledge whiach is ideally situated for collecting mud and water.

Behind the front wheels the area between the outer and inner wings is a mud trap and when sufficient rust has developed here it may well open up the front end of the sills.

There is a tendency for water to get into the joint between the top of each front wing and the panel surrounding the windscreen. If this is neglected the rust damage will extend down the rear vertical edge of the wings and along the top edges of outer and inner wings, eventually opening up the channels in which the edges of the bonnet rest.

The inner and outer sills and the base of the centre door pillar should be examined for tust and particular attention should be paid to the rear foot or so of the inner sill. If serious rust develops at the front of the rear wheel arches it can open up the sills, and the edges of the wheel arches tend to rust too.

On some models water seeps under the chrome strip along the top of the rear wings and enters the enclosed area between the outer and inner panels causing rust to develop above the rear wheel arches.

Underneath the car the rearmost spring hangers are in an exposed position and the rear footwells, spare wheel well and fuel tank should be examined too.

There is a transverse crossmember just behind the gearbox which is not a closed box section, but is able to fill with debris and this should be checked to ensure that it has been cleaned out regularly and given rust-prevention treatment.

At the front of each sill there is a box-like structure which is very prone to rust, and it is not unknown for this to fall off, leaving a hole in the floor.

Look for evidence of water leaks in the vicinity of the parcel tray and lift the carpets to examine the floor sections and the inner sills. The bottoms of doors also rust, particularly on the earlier models which had felt rather than rubber weatherstrips.
"Buying a Series Minx/Gazelle" (Practical Classics, Jan 1982)

Mechanical components usually have long working lives. Engines will eventually smoke and fume as piston to bore clearances increase and synchromesh action becomes less effective as mileage clocks up.

Wear in the front suspension/steering is also likely on high-mileage cars - a drive will reveal less than direct steering action and weak damping over rough surfaces.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 5/10/94)

The engines used in these cars are considered strong and reliable and have no major weaknesses, except for thise used in the Series I Minx, which had camshaft problems.

With the Series IIIA models a remote floor gearchange became standard and this is considered more satisfactory than the earlier column change (which was prone to wear), which was continued as an option.

Other gear changing arrangements which are used on these cars include Easidrive (an electrically-operated, semi-automatic system), and Manumatic. Neither was popular, especially with the repair and servicing trade, so many owners converted their cars to manual change, and spares for these systems are now very difficult to obtain. A Borg-Warner type 35 automatic box was fitted to Series V and later cars. "Buying a Series Minx/Gazelle" (Practical Classics, Jan 1982)

In general, if the bodywork is sound, the condition of the drive-train and running gear is of less importance - they are straightforward to work on at home.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 5/10/94)

REPAIRS AND RESTORATION

A Minx is an ideal car for a DIY enthusiast. The conventional design and abundance of underbonnet space make routine work and more major operations relatively straightforward.

Decokes, clutch and gearbox changes and full engine overhauls can be done without the need for special tools or eqipment. Mechanical spares are relatively easy to find.

Some body panels are available, including sills, hand-made complete front wings and repair sections. Original, unused Rootes panels are difficult to find. The front wings are welded to the body. Replacement is time-consuming and care is needed to ensure correct alignment of the replacements.
"Hillman Minx 'Series' models, Buyer's Guide" (Classic Car Weekly, 20/9/95)

FINDING A HILLMAN

Classified ads can be found in weekly and monthly Classic Car publications, of course, and if you are a member of the Hillman Owners Club, many FOR SALE ads can be found in the club magazine, Coventry Spires.

CARS FOR SALE and CURRENT PRICES can also be found on the Internet.


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