Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hillman Avenger

The Hillman Avenger was a small family car built by Hillman, Chrysler and Talbot between 1970 and 1981. The car was designed by Rootes and released under its Hillman marque, though Rootes itself had been taken over by Chrysler in the late 1960s and the car was released in the USA as the Plymouth Cricket (the world of car marques was especially complicated in the 1970s!) The Avenger took its styling cues from the latest US car designs though was in many ways technically conservative (for example sticking with a four speed gearbox instead of moving to a five speed). The Avenger was well received by the press and public and considered superior to its rival the Morris Marina. It also competed with the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva.

After 1976 the Avenger became a Chrysler proper as the Hillman marque was retired but in 1979, following the sale of Chrysler Europe to PSA, the Avenger was rebadged again as a Talbot! Time was running out for the car however as production only continued until 1981 in the UK. The Avenger was also built abroad, even appearing with a Volkswagen badge in Argentina! The Avenger was a popular car with the public and three quarters of a million were sold. Technically and conceptually the car was perfect for the 1970s though suffered from poor build quality and corner cutting to save money, however the Avenger was not alone in suffering from these problems.

The Avenger below is preserved at Coventry Transport Museum where it helps to demonstrate the production lines which enabled mass production of motorcars.

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