1938 Hillman Minx Staff Car

The Collection’s Exhibit

William Hillman was a late nineteenth century bicycle maker who turned to automobiles when he entered into partnership with French designer Louis Coatalen in 1907. The first Hillman-Coatalen was a large 25hp touring car powered by a 6.4-litre, four-cylinder, engine and was manufactured in the new company’s Coventry workshops.

Coatalen left in 1909 to join Sunbeam, and the newly named Hillman Motor Company took on a new designer and manager, A J Dawson, in 1913. Dawson was to design the Hillman 9hp which was the first model to be built in quantity.

Hillman was taken over by the Rootes family in 1928 and merged with Humber, the plan being for Humber to make large cars and Hillman smaller ones. The first Minx was announced in 1932, and the same basic model was to continue in production – with mechanical and styling modifications – until 1948. The Minx of 1934 was the first mass produced car to have a four speed gearbox with synchromesh on all forward gears.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 nearly all military staff cars (Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force) were basically civilian models give a coat of matt paint of the appropriate colour. Some came from showrooms, from factory stocks, and some were privately owned.

The Collection’s Minx would have been used by ‘other sections’ of the RAF – officers of the rank of Group Captain, Wing Commander or Squadron Leader – and would normally have been driven by a chauffeur from the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce (WAAF).

The vehicle was purchased from a main dealer in Leeds and privately owned until it was commandeered in 1939 by the Ministry of Defence. It was later owned and restored by Graham Church, of Kempston, Bedford, and exhibited locally at military pageants and similar displays. It is painted in RAF Bomb Disposal 15 Squadron colours and markings, hence the red front mudguards.

It was purchased by The Collection in 2006.

 

Manufacturer: Hillman Motor Car Company, Coventry, England
Model: Minx
Engine: 1148cc, four-cylinder, side-valve
Top Speed: 60 mph

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