by Steve Favill
The Hillman Avenger. Intended by Rootes to be a competitor for the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva, the car was also marketed by Chrysler in the United States as the Plymouth Cricket.
It never sold in the numbers that its competitors did however, and I think that I discovered why during the course of living with this example.
My car was identical to the one shown on the front of this period brochure, even down to the ‘ J’ suffix on the license plate. I remember being quite impressed with the styling of these cars as an impressionable youth, and I took the opportunity to see if the car lived up to that.
Finished in a brown metallic paint with beige plastic upholstery, my ownership of this car had been intended as only a temporary thing. Since my current, and much more modern, French car was undergoing repairs to the body at the time, (don’t ask…) I saw this car being advertised cheaply and, since I needed to get to work and back at odd hours another car seemed to be a must.
I realise that the car was called “Avenger”, but quite whom, or what it was trying to Avenge, I don’t know and I certainly have no idea why it decided to enact that vengeance upon me. The one that I bought was terrible. It started and it ran, which I suppose was the main thing, but it felt gutless, even though it had a 1500cc engine. Acceleration could be measured in minutes rather than seconds, the seats were hard and felt as plastic as their covers, the ride was awful and the car had absolutely no redeeming quirks whatsoever. It had no “personality” to it, something that was unusual for a British car of the era.
A short while after buying the car, the rear suspension fell apart on me on trying to pull out of the car park at work one morning at 6am. I had it towed, and scrapped as it was not worth fixing. Besides, I was broke at the time…
Thus ended my one and only dalliance with a product of the Rootes Group, and of all the cars from the UK that I’ve owned, I would definitely NOT buy another. I still rather like the way that it looks, though.