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Homepage. This page: Handing over a classic Hillman Imp saloon to Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, for the National Motor Museum.

1. Hillman Imp to the Beaulieu motor museum.

The first Imp photo was sent over by Les in 2009. He was lucky enough to acquire a collection of paperwork relating to the Canterbury Motor Company, a firm that traded in cars from 1904 through to the 1970s. In the 1960s they were a Rootes dealership, and amongst the many albums and files that Les has found, was this photo, showing a handover to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu of a Hillman Imp saloon, registration 1400 SC.
Hillman Imp goes to Beaulieu
The photograph isn't dated, but their attire looks like it is late 1970s. The car's registration suggests an early example - a check on the National Motor Museum site confirms that 1400 SC is believed to be the first production Imp, of 1963. The Imp was restored by the Canterbury Motor Company, and presented to the museum on completion, presumably at the time of Les' photograph above. A date sometime in the '70s or very early '80s therefore would make sense.

2. Another Imp, this time on a car ferry.

The next photo is one I bought a while back. It shows three cars, and a lady in an eyecatching outfit, just as the barrier was moving behind her. The car on the left is an Imp, or Imp-derivative, sporting an August 1969 tax disc in the window. To the right is a Ford Corsair, but I'm not sure about the car nearest the camera - Ford Anglia estate?
An Imp on a car ferry

3. A chap with his brand new Hillman Imp.

Steve found these two photographs of a Hillman Imp at a car boot sale in Brighton, and kindly emailed them over. Both were taken by a Peter R Smith of Calderbank, Airdie. Who the man in black is I don't know, he looks a little like Roy Orbison in the second photo, but it seems unlikely that "The Big O" would have chosen an Imp as opposed to a Cadillac, Buick or Pontiac! :-)
The first photograph is a side-on view of this classic 1963 Imp, registration XHS 27, with its driver behind the wheel. Note the whitewall tyres.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
1963 Imp in Scotland
The second of Steve's photos is a head-on shot of the Imp, with its owner looking very dapper, stood alongside the diminutive rear-engined Hillman.
Frontal view of the Hillman Imp

4. A 1965 Imp in N. Wales.

Many of our family holidays in the 1970s and 1980s were spent in North Wales. This photograph turned up at auction recently, and handily the previous owner remembered to jot down the location of the scene - Llandudno, in September 1968, outside the Ormesdale Private Hotel. Whether the Hillman Imp was their own car I'm not sure. It was registered EDM 73C, a Flintshire series so presumably the three-year-old car hadn't strayed too far from home when this shot was taken.
I had thought to crop the image down to just the car, but as seeing older homes with their original window frames in place is getting less and less common, I decided to keep the entire scene. Also note the cast iron telegraph (or tram) pole, and the variety of styles evident in the television aerials fitted to these properties. The hotel doesn't appear to be still in business, or at least no longer operating under that name.
A 1965 Imp parked in Llandudno, 1968
Update. Peter, a forum regular, did some investigation and discovered that the hotel was located at 58 Lloyd Street in Llandudno. 58-62 Lloyd Street is listed today as the location of the Branksome Hotel. The original building survived until 2009 when, apparently, it was demolished to make way for a new hotel. Judging by the comments on Trip Advisor dating to 2006, the overhaul was well overdue.

5. Learning to drive in Walsall, 1963.

Quite why this next photograph was taken on a dreary, grey, winter's day in December 1963, isn't entirely clear. If someone wanted to photograph Walsall Gala Baths, then they could have done it without including a couple of lamp-posts in the way. Presumably the subject is the Hillman Imp driving school car, captured on film as it drives by. Maybe the photographer had just taken a lesson in the car, and was photographing it for sentimental reasons, or maybe they'd just passed their test in the Hillman and wanted a keepsake of the moment? A Morris Minor saloon is parked a little way down the road, while further on still is the commercial variant of the same Morris type, burbling away.
While the Gala Baths still stands, and looks remarkably similar to how it did back in 1963 - complete with the same tree outside near the pavement - I think it unlikely that the Imp survived for anything like the same amount of time, more likely having been retired to a scrapyard within ten years or so of this picture being taken.
Learning to drive in a 1960s Imp
Imp enthusiasts may also be interested to see a period photo of the Imp-powered Costin-Nathan GT.
Return to Old Car Photos section, Page No. 10.

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