1956 Hillman Minx Series II Convertible
Fifties open-top motoring for the masses
Published on 06 Jan 2022
British manufacturer Hillman produced the Minx series over a long period, stretching from 1931 to 1970, in a wide variety of series’ and body styles, spanning a four-door sedan, two door coupe, two door convertible, two door estate and two door utility.
Hillman was under the Rootes Group at this time, and the first Minx was a straight-forward four-door pre-war tourer with a 30bhp engine. During the wartime, Hillman produced the utility version which was a two-seat two-door body with a covered load area behind, and called it the 10HP – although it used a Minx chassis.
After the war, the Minx re-emerged as a ‘full’ car in 1945, with the range of body styles mentioned in the opening paragraph, and ran till 1957, spanning the Mark I to Mark VIII.
However, the car featured here is from the Audax-designed Minx range which was helped by industrial designer Raymond Loewy, giving it a distinctive and some might say, ‘American’ look! The ‘Audax’ Minx ran from Series I to VI and came with enlarged engines (up to 1,725cc), and four-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.
The ‘Audax’ Minx was built not only in Britain, but also in Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as well as by Singer and Sunbeam with their own variants, called the Gazelle and Rapier. The ‘Audax’ Minx was built as a four-door saloon, four-door estate or two-door convertible only.
Hillmans in general were reputed for their smooth ride. They were of robust build quality and would traverse the pot-hole ridden Ceylonese roads of the time with ease, and relative comfort to the occupants. Thus Hillman proved to be the vehicle of choice, especially among the out-station communities during the 1950’, 60’s and 70’s. After Morris and Austin, Hillmans were the most popular cars in Sri Lanka at the time.
The Hillman Minx Series II convertible featured here is of the ‘Audax’ vintage, and was manufactured in 1956. It is one of two convertibles that were imported to Ceylon. The car was largely used in Kandy, by the Manager of the branch of Cargills there, and was frequently seen parked outside.
Following that, the car was sold to a Mr. Nimal of Udugampola who kept it for a further four years before it caught the eye of discerning car collector Kapila Jayawardena in 2004. The car was mechanically sound and Kapila drove it from Udugampola to Colombo.
However, it needed cosmetic work, and as is typical of Kapila’s fastidious nature, the car went for a full restoration in 2006 and emerged looking factory fresh. 2018 saw it undergo yet another refresh to keep it looking at its best.
Kapila keeps this car among his collection at his Battaramulla museum which is a sight to behold – all the gleaming, well-restored cars and bikes there, which can be relied on to start up at the mere turn of the key or press of button. Kapila also recollects that last year, he drove this car to Deniyaya and back on the same day and it purred flawlessly all the way!