Hillman Motor Co.

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The Hillman Minx 1390cc Saloon was a popular family car

The Hillman Motor Company was a motorcar manufacturer located in Coventry.

William Hillman first arrived in Coventry in the 1860s when he found work at the Coventry Machinists Company. After working closely with James Starley on the ‘Ariel’ cycle, he broke away and formed his own cycle company as Hillman & Herbert in 1875, and Hillman, Herbert & Cooper by the following year.

It was not until 1907 that William Hillman applied himself to that of motor production – more than 10 years after many others had experimented with motors in England. This was in association with the French designer Louis Coatalen establishing the company of the Hillman-Coatalen Motor Co. Ltd to make large touring cars. In 1908, Hillman’s Premier Cycle Company also began the production of motorcycles.

Coatalen left Hillman in 1909 to join the Sunbeam Company at Wolverhampton, so in 1910, the Hillman Motor Company was formed, but they did not exceed more than 50 cars a year up to 1913. The Dawson designed 9hp sold well for the company before and after WWI, followed by the 11hp ‘Peace’ model introduced in 1919.

In 1921, William Hillman died, and the company was continued by his son-in-law, John Black. From 1923 cars were built using drop-head bodywork .In 1927; the Rootes Brothers of Maidstone became sole agents for the distribution of Hillman cars globally.

In 1928, Hillman merged with the Humber Company of Coventry seeing both businesses falling under the control of the Rootes family – in many ways the beginning of their expansive motor empire. In 1931 the Hillman Minx was launched at the Olympia Show and went into full production by 1932. The Minx developed over the coming years to one of the company’s all-time best selling models, being available in different forms right the way through to 1966 with the ‘Super Minx’.

Other models of note introduced by the company included the diminutive rear-engined ‘Imp’ from 1963 to rival the Mini, and the ‘Avenger’ from 1970. This model was available as a 1250cc, a 1500cc and the sporty GT in 1973.

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