Hillman Hunter Reviews from UK and Ireland

1968 Hillman Hunter Humber Sceptre 1.7L

Model year1969
Year of manufacture1968
First year of ownership2012
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 1.7L Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 0 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 8 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.8 / 10
Distance when acquired79000 miles
Most recent distance79002 miles
Previous carAudi A4

Summary:

A little bit of nostalgia

Faults:

Bought the car to restore. It had been barn stored, and some parts removed for the previous owner's other car.

This car will require a full restoration, and is really not financially worth doing, but being British and a glutton for punishment, I will restore it by removing all the rust from the normal places - tops of the wings by the lights, rear of the front wings and the bottom valances. The floor pan is sound, as are the other prime rust areas.

I am 67 and have worked with the Hunter in the London police force. We had a fleet of dozens in our garage, and there were half a dozen garages serving the whole of London. They were used as CID and general run about cars, and as such did get a hard life, They stood up well to all the abuse given to them, with the most faults coming from a stupid throttle pedal linkage.

Seats would break at the back rest, because police would get in first, then look for the keys by pushing backwards on the seat to get into their pocket. Try it next time you get into your car.

The killer was RUST; both sides of the floor pan would rot away. Some in only two or three years.

Some on this site have mentioned the carbon thrust release bearing for the clutch. This was standard on most volume cars of the time. Drivers would NOT sit at the lights with the car in gear for long periods; it was a known thing. Also on Sundays, many people would tinker to keep the cars going.

When I look back and see how far we have progressed, I am amazed at how well modern cars perform. Do I like my Audi? You bet I do; over 50 MPG and capable of over a hundred mph.

Cars of the 50s and 60s, most would do 60-70mph, but that was it. Only upmarket cars like Jaguar, the Ford Zephyr (just) and Aston Martin could do "the ton".

So if you are a young petrol head, please do not denigrate the old cars. Just be thankful that your car has benefited from all the mistakes of the past. Modern cars do 100,000 miles easy. Much due to the fantastic improvement in lubricants.

1950's cars were serviced every 1000 miles, with a major overhaul at 50,000 miles. Many were scrapped before 100,000.

Do I love my old Hillman? Reluctantly, yes.

Do I expect it to perform well in modern traffic? NO.

It's used on high days and holidays when the sun shines... That way the dreaded tin worm might be kept at bay for a few more years. Thanks for reading and enjoy your car safely.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th December, 2012

1972 Hillman Hunter Deluxe 1.5 OHV

Year of manufacture1972
First year of ownership1999
Most recent year of ownership2000
Engine and transmission 1.5 OHV Manual
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 3 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.3 / 10
Distance when acquired52000 miles
Most recent distance57000 miles
Previous carMazda 1300

Summary:

Has the feel of a big car, but the nimbleness of a small car

Faults:

Where do I start here...

Needed to replace the exhaust because the previous owner had fitted an incorrect one. Dynamo was not working very well which made it hard to start and the battery would drain if you used too many of the accessories at once.

Brakes failed a one point due to fluid leaking from the rear brake hose and the front right disc brake seized due to rust.

Tail-shaft fell off onto the road at one point due to loose bolts. Under-carriage was severely rusted due to salty British roads.

Indicators worked sometimes and sometimes not.

General Comments:

Apparently these cars are pretty reliable if they are looked after and last year I heard this model won the round the world rally.

My car was pretty neglected when I bought it but once I cut and polished about 10 years worth deteriorated paint off the surface the car actually looked quite good, although this didn't improve the mechanicals of it.

I guess this car would have been quite a large car in its day, it is certainly very roomy inside. Because of this you would think that the small 1.5 liter motor would make the car pretty slow, but I never found the car to be sluggish.

One thing about the car is the lack of accessories, i.e. no radio, single speed blower, no rear seat belts, no rear de-mister, just the basics which is all you need really.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2001

19th Sep 2001, 19:41

Yeh, well I got myself a Hillman Hunter. Might be an earlier model, but I had no problems with it. Bit of body rust, but that's all. Yeh they are a really, really, really slow car, but what can you expect for an old pom car?

6th Feb 2002, 22:32

Mine drives almost exactly like my old Marina 1800 - The car tilts like crazy when you rev the engine, but it still does 0 - 60 in about 5 minutes! Oh, and don't try taking it out in the ice or you will be asking for trouble. Handles like a shopping trolley. Lack of a heated rear window on my model makes the cold weather a pain in the rear, but getting one fitted would modernise the car and it wouldn't be original any more would it!

15th Nov 2004, 14:46

Funnily enough I also had 2 Hillman Hunter Estates in the 70's. Company cars. They were basically reliable, but had only vestigial road holding and liked to lurch from serious understeer to dramatic oversteer in the twinkling of an eye. Why would anybody even want to see one now? Let alone actually buy one!

11th Sep 2008, 06:31

Many people want to add a Hillman Hunter to their collection. This is 2008, but did you know the Hillman Hunter is being produced in Iran under the name of Peykan by Iran Khodro Ind?! ha ha ha...!

6th Jan 2009, 20:33

My father had one, it was a '72 DL 1500 bought in 1979. One tends to be nostalgic for that cars that one's father had, but not in this case. It was horrible, collapsing seats, no wing mirrors, non-inertia reel belts, loud, slow, moldy.

Nothing electrical worked except the one speed wipers and the head lights. I remember many electrical fires and the fact that he had to keep it in third gear with a rubber band.

Rust wasn't a problem though, and the bloody thing just wouldn't die. Gave it away in the end. He chose it over a Renault 16 Automatic back in '79. What was he thinking?

11th Sep 2010, 17:55

I have a Hillman Hunter.

It's a super car, lovely to drive, as back in the days the roads were not great. Driving mightn't have been the best as the roads have improved a lot since my dad had one for years. It was like a tractor. It would pull anything, Holbay engine o/d gearbox. What more would you need?

Average review marks: 5.5 / 10, based on 2 reviews