1973 Hillman Imp 1.6 De Luxe...........wait, what??!

1973 Hillman Imp 1.6 De Luxe...........wait, what??!

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Discussion

darkyoung1000

1,428 posts

154 months

Thursday 13th July 2017
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A splendid thread from the start, I love how the Imp has ended up.
Really nice work on getting it that tidily fettled!
Cheers,
Tom

CarlosV8

688 posts

130 months

Thursday 13th July 2017
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So how did the MOT go??

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Friday 14th July 2017
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gert biggens said:
You know there have been many, many, many fine cars brought to my attention of this forum, spanning the sublime to the absolute Barry. But this project I think, aside from being incredible, represents the absolute encapsulation of the PH spirit. So much love, ingenuity, craftsmanship, creativity and man-hours has gone into a project that makes no logical or financial sense whatever, and yet it just lifts the spirits to see it. To take an Imp, which, let’s be honest, looks great, but never quite had the engineering underneath that it should have had… and then just roll up your sleeves and GIVE it all that, with lathes and hammers and bits of dead other cars…

…Kitchski, I salute you, and all who sail in you!
Kind words Mr Biggens! Obviously the idea of the car was down to Tim, the previous owner. I just made it happen, but yes it probably was fairly pointless to build it.
The Imp as a car is actually a well-engineered thing, in my opinion. You find lots of little touches and features, and the way they drive for a car of that age is really impressive. The bad side is that you get the feeling the designers and engineers were on a decent wage, but that the accountants had quite a big say in the direction of the project. The workforce were probably on minimum wage, and I think they'd probably just had their mid-morning coffee break slashed by 5mins the day before they put mine together hehe

I genuinely do think the Imp is a very good little car. The Mini was a technical marvel, but the Imp was ahead in many respects (admittedly not THE one single advancement the Mini brought). It's a shame they were underdeveloped so much, but there's an interesting history to them.

darkyoung1000 said:
A splendid thread from the start, I love how the Imp has ended up.
Really nice work on getting it that tidily fettled!
Cheers,
Tom
Thanks Tom smile

CarlosV8 said:
So how did the MOT go??
You're on my Facebook Carl, you must know! hehe



Straight through. Picked up an advisory on the kingpins, which it had last time (but in reality it's done about 60miles since then, though the speedo says 170 because it was overreading as we hadn't done a good job designing the speedo pickup). Otherwise, no issues, though the tester did say that so much of the test isn't applicable to a car of that age it's almost pointless doing it!

I had brought my TVR into work yesterday morning to get it ready for the Uxbridge car show on the weekend, where the TVR S group have a stand. That meant that, practically speaking, I needed to leave it in the workshop where the Imp normally lives (I've got so many cars they float around - I'm never totally sure where they all are!) So, MoT in hand (and quite a few aspects of the car not fully finished) I decided to drive the car home. I live 4 miles from work, and spent the first mile getting the speedo adjusted fully (now reading 1mph over). I spent the following 8 miles (slight detour) grinning like a loon. I arrived at home yesterday around 7pm, and to be honest I was buzzing! That feeling where you've just done something fun, and then you suddenly stop, leaving you at a bit of a dead end for the next 30mins!

It's so much smaller even than the TVR. Ideal sized for a tiny garage (going to be fun getting the BX back in there):



I'd just forgotten how much fun it was. It's very noisy, very frantic and very fun. The gearing is so short that if you put your foot down in 2nd or 3rd it really pins you back in the seat! It sounds mental, and angry, and yet it only lasts a few seconds as you run out of revs (because of the short gearing). You work up a sweat baaaaaarping and banging and making 1970's rally car noises, and then you get home, look at your GPS app on your phone to check the mileage is correct and find that you didn't exceed 52mph! I never broke the law, yet I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! Probably because I got to 52mph so quickly...

I'm going to make a list of things to sort out. I junked the small gel battery and went for a proper 063, but I need to find somewhere decent to fit it and secure it properly. The brakes need bleeding again as they're really poor (I hope that's not 'how they are', and then there's the bodywork to sort out. I'm also planning on giving the interior a revamp.

You know, just with all that spare time I spend kicking around doing nothing....

CarlosV8

688 posts

130 months

Friday 14th July 2017
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I didn't see on FB but nicely done sir. It's a great feeling when an old car goes through first time smile

RC1807

9,315 posts

126 months

Friday 14th July 2017
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100% echo of Gert Biggins' comment!

Congrats on the ticket for another 12 months. Really a fun looking motor!

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Friday 14th July 2017
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The downside of this car is the attention it gets. I like my TVR....its grey. Nobody looks at it. The BX is great, because the only people who notice it are those who know what it is and appreciate it, so you filter the wheat from the chaff.

This thing? Christ. Everybody looks, either because it stands out visually (I'm fairly immune to the way it looks because I'm so used to it, but on the road it might stick out like a sore thumb), or because they hear it coming (it's pretty noisy).

I don't like drawing attention, so from that point of view it's not great! That said, at least the attention is normally positive. If it were a supercar or something, you'd get loads of abuse too, but with this it's too cute and friendly. Like a Moggy Minor hehe

Cambs_Stuart

939 posts

42 months

Friday 14th July 2017
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Fantastic, well written, interesting thread and a great car. Keep the updates coming!

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Monday 24th July 2017
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Finally managed to find a couple of hours to sample some more Imp yesterday. I had to go to a DIY shop to buy a stopcock key, so combined this with a ~30mile trip in the countryside to let the Imp sing me the song of its people (breakdown, for those who don't get that kind of crap humour!)

On the whole it behaved very well. Might need to think about hooking the choke back up as getting it going first thing wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. Also found a small coolant weep from the back of the engine, but nothing major, and because it's running waterless coolant, it doesn't get up to pressure and spray everywhere once it's hot.

Ah yes, heat. That was one of the 'issues' raised by the cheapo Dolphin gauge set:



It would flirt somewhere between there and 250F. I learned this morning that 212F is 100C (it's almost like Celcius makes more sense, or something), so at times I was way above that. Apparently.
However, the cooling fan is controlled by a Looks-like-a-kenlow-but-isn't-a-kenlow-but-is-basically-the-same-thing-controller, and this was still set at 85degC, as I hadn't altered it since I'd been playing around.
I pulled over and had a look:



Because it's got a kind-of-lumpy cam, I have to run the idle a bit quicker than normal, otherwise when the twin cooling fans cut in the idle gets dragged down so far the rear view mirror falls off. However, when I stopped, I noticed the fan wasn't actually running anyway, which meant despite the gauge saying I was close the apocalypse, I was actually closer to gas mark 2. From that point on I decided to ignore the coolant gauge! Plans for the future here include moving the fan controller inside the car, and rigging up an LED on the dash to illuminate when the fans cut in, because unless I'm stationary, I can't really tell if they're on or not, and if they're running while I'm moving along, that's not good for them.

I had another moment when at full-bore in 3rd gear down the A32 (calm down officer, have you looked at Imp gearing?!)
In 2nd, she pulled hard. Continued the trend into 3rd too, until lots of pinking, misfiring, chattering and a general lack of progress became apparent at 5000rpm! I let it roll down the road, collecting my thoughts, and looked for a lay-by. It was at that point I realised it was actually still idling, and seemed to be responding to the throttle inputs. I selected 4th gear, and it carried on its merry way. I stopped at the old station car park in Wickham (loves my old disused railway st, I do) and popped the 'frunk'. I spotted the fuel pressure regulator was set wrong, so the carbs probably ran out of fuel. Good ol' TU engines! Any other lump and I'd have melted something! I reset the regulator, and failed to find the balls to try it again. I'll have another go closer to home!

30 miles (give or take) covered, and generally no issues. Brakes need further bleeding as I swear they're supposed to be better than this! Rear view mirror is useless, as (even though it hasn't fallen off) the whole car buzzes around so much that you can only make out objects at certain RPM. Get the frequency wrong, and you can't tell if you're being tailed by the rozzers, or dragging an old lady down the road by her shopping trolley.

I think I might need to do a bit more to bring a sentiment of refinement back into the car. I've (still) not driven a standard Imp, but I suspect this one has MOAR NOISE! It buzzes, it tingles, it smells, it gets hot in the cabin and it doesn't give you a break. My TVR is a Rolls-Royce compared with this!

I'm itching to go and drive it again now though, that's how fun it is!

Bobberoo99

18,246 posts

56 months

Wednesday 26th July 2017
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Hi Kitchski, wavey long time lurker but my first post!! I've been watching this from the start, amazing little car and a great job you've done on it!!! We had an Imp when I was but a young lad (many, many, many years ago!!!) still remember being driven about in it by my mum, even went to Cornwall a couple of times in it!!! This was back in the late 70's very early 80's!!! Would love the opportunity to see the little beast in the flesh, I work in Titchfield with a mate of yours, and live in Southampton!!!

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Friday 4th August 2017
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Bobberoo99 said:
Hi Kitchski, wavey long time lurker but my first post!! I've been watching this from the start, amazing little car and a great job you've done on it!!! We had an Imp when I was but a young lad (many, many, many years ago!!!) still remember being driven about in it by my mum, even went to Cornwall a couple of times in it!!! This was back in the late 70's very early 80's!!! Would love the opportunity to see the little beast in the flesh, I work in Titchfield with a mate of yours, and live in Southampton!!!
Hi Bobberoo99! Sorry I missed this one, wasn't ignoring you. It's going to be at Goodwood Breakfast Club on Sunday morning (just don't look at the door gaps frown )

It'll also be in Southampton in about 3 hours for wheel alignment (assuming it makes it OK...)

Mr Roper

11,863 posts

152 months

Friday 4th August 2017
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Great thread and mucho kudos.


It was great to see an Imp being driven at the Eifel Rallye a couple of weeks back....Plucky little brute held it's own against the mighty Pikes peak Audis and R64's.




Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Friday 4th August 2017
quotequote all
Mr Roper said:
Great thread and mucho kudos.


It was great to see an Imp being driven at the Eifel Rallye a couple of weeks back....Plucky little brute held it's own against the mighty Pikes peak Audis and R64's.



Mmmmmm, that one's a little bit more communist than an Imp. Not by much of course!

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Friday 11th August 2017
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'So, how's the Imp going?'....nobody asked. True enough, but I thought I'd share the progress since the last update.

Has there been any? Well, yes, happily! Things have gone well in the world of the little Scottish saloon.

I had plans for the weekend just gone, but the game last week was all about putting miles on the car, to give anything that felt like failing on me, a chance to fail. Thus far, nothing has, and to date (10th August) it's covered around 450miles on the odo, or around 300 real miles since the thing went back together. Initially, I was just mooching around in it, using it when I could. I commuted in it at the beginning of the week, and had to take a detour as my normal route was closed due to a cyclist riding underneath a van (probably not intentionally). I've had worse commutes though, as commutes go:



On one hand, the simpleton part of me thinks 'How cool! I'm commuting in an Imp!' While the more rational, buzzkill part of me thinks 'Yeah....like about 100,000 people were in the 70's...'

A couple of short runs down, I set about getting it ready for a couple of longer test runs. The first to Portsmouth (boooo), and then to Southampton (yaaay). The first stage in planning any journey is, of course, to attend to areas of body damage. Y'all remember the issue around the front wheelarch? Well, the lump of filler that the bodyshop (who did the bodywork, but not the actual painting) left in the arch was hacked out, and the metal treated/made good. Not a permanent repair, but it'll do for now and it'll stop it getting any worse:



Of course, to improve the look further, I needed some paint. Not just any paint either! I needed paint that was the same colour as the bodywork (which is Opel/Vauxhall Karabic Blue 277, seeing as you asked. It's so close to the original Aquarius, it's just easier). A trip to Express Paints in Portsmouth was required, which would not only pave a way to painty-goodness, but also give the Imp a slightly longer run to deal with.
It wasn't just the Imp that would benefit from this trip either (if it didn't break). I also needed some paint for the BX GT bumpers (Oh yes, the BX GT....that's on here somewhere too). This meant I needed to take a bumper down to the paint shop (not a paintshop, it's actually a shop that sells paint). So, the Imp became a BX bumper carrier:



Paint was acquired, and the front end visually improved:



Nothing special, just a rattle can job, but it'll do.

One of the other tasks on the to-do list, was to relocate the battery. Originally, we had a compact gel battery fitted (effectively the same as those Odyssey types, only half the price) but I hated it. The size and weight was brilliant, but it had about 3 cranks in it before it was dead. And then it started dying by itself. It was time to rid myself of it, and a standard Yuasa 063 was bought and fitted down behind the passenger seat. I'd have preferred it over the front axle, but there just isn't the space.



Long term I may make a case for it to mount into.

The next day, a trip to Southampton was on the cards. It had dawned on me that I'd never had the wheel alignment checked on the car, so I booked it in at The Wheel Alignment Centre and headed down on Friday. I'd previously taken the car to 100mph (private roads, obv) and the experience could best be described as 'alarming'.



Post-wheel alignment, the same test was carried out and the result was deemed 'concerning', which is a definite improvement. It's running 3degrees of negative camber on one side, and 2.1deg on the other (ah, good old quality control!) Ideally, I'd rid the car of the negative camber full stop, which will aid the stability more. Normally a car is set at toe-in bias to try and make it more stable (at the expense of some turn-in response), but in the case of the Imp, it was decided to go neutral. It's much improved, in fairness.

I now set about getting it cleaned up (kinda...I used Demon Shine and a rag!) I had a Goodwood breakfast club to go to on Sunday morning, and Friday was my last day of Imp time, so when the working day ended, the Imp evening started. It cleaned up pretty well:





In the course of hoovering the carpets, I found the car wasn't as watertight as I'd hoped. In fact, it's probably more similar to a sponge when the rain sets in.

Happily, I found I'd gained more horses! No, really. I always thought the best the engine ever kicked out was 111bhp on the dyno, but when researching the exact RPM figures for making a little info card for the car (so I could put it in the window and avoid any social awkwardness I exhibit when people ask me questions about my car) I logged onto the rolling road computer, and found this:



After the last session with the car, I had about 3 runs all around 116.8bhp. Of course, that rounds up to 117bhp! Made me giggle when I remembered the car originally was rated at 37bhp! This car has taken one Hillman Imp, and then added two more into the engine bay hehe

The Breakfast Club day came, and on the way there I swung by to collect a special guest for the morning (or the first bit of it anyway!).....Tim, the original owner of the car! He came out for the car's first official 'appearance' at any type of show or event.

So, in true Breakfast Club style, I pushed the car out of the garage at silly o'clock, and then proceeded to get it started and hold a fast idle to warm it up, because the choke isn't connected. Wakey wakey everybody!:



We arrived at Goodwood at around half 8 in the morning. The run there was good, and the car behaved perfectly, except a minor moment where it developed a misfire just before I drove into the tunnel. Not sure what that was about!
We were directed onto the track, and realised it was quite busy. I'm not great with getting attention, and the Imp was instantly attracting a lot of attention!



We parked up, and got out. It wasn't even a minute before a small crowd had gathered around it. Someone asked me to open the engine lid, which I did (kinda reluctantly, as I was hoping to go and look around first!) and as I went to walk backwards ended up walking into what seemed like a wall of people peering in! The crowd slowly dispersed, and I spent a bit longer chatting to quite a few people in more detail. I was aware there were people actually seeming to queue up to ask me something, but I just didn't seem to get a minute spare. Tim was fielding questions left right and centre too! Good to see him enjoying the involvement smile

It wasn't busy there purely because of the Imp; It was a very busy event in general, but I have to say I wasn't prepared for the amount of attention the little thing received. A mix of people coming to see an Imp generally (as I was the only one there, as the Imp National meet was on the same day in Kent) and others attracted more by the 'custom' look of the thing, and the rumours that it had an engine conversion.....possibly.
A hour passed in the blink of an eye, and for a while I found enough space to get a picture:



Tim left and my wife and kids arrived. I think even they were surprised by how many people I was talking to (I'm normally not good at talking to strangers!), but eventually I had to apologise to some people looking at the engine, shut it all up, lock the doors and ps off to look around the event with the kids. Saw some interesting stuff there, including a gorgeous Lancia Fulvia Rallye, and my dream car, a Citroen SM on the grid.

Nearer the end of the morning it had quietened down:




I took the Imp home the scenic way, and I have to say the drive back was simply brilliant fun! I was driving with my wife and kids following in the family wagon, but even at lower speeds it's just so much fun. It's SO involving to drive! Everything is you and the mechanical component you're operating....nothing else. And yet, it's not recalcitrant in the slightest. The gearchange is decent enough (3rd to 4th using your fingertip in a 'flick' motion once the box has warmed up is particularly trouser arousing), the pedals are well weighted, the ride is firm but composed and the visibility is immense. The best thing is the steering though! You feel EVERYTHING. I've never driven another car, where it's like a push bike, in that you see the road surface in front of you, and when you drive over it, it feels exactly as it looks. In most cars, the road noise changes note slightly, even in my TVR. But in this, you feel the information from everything, all the time. Any yaw; Any lateral movement; Any surface change....everything. And yet, it's not overwhelming. It's just right, and it creates a situation where because you have a car that is so involving, and noisy, and buzzy, you should be fed up of it after a while, and just want to get out. But in this car, every single time I've driven it, I always feel a tinge of sadness as I arrive home that my drive is over, even if I've just spent the whole morning in it and have a fume-induced headache to prove it.

It's cliché, but it's the closest thing to a go-kart for the road. The weight distribution, the noise....even the steering wheel is mounted at a stupid angle, off-centre!

I arrived back on Sunday at around 1pm, and spent the next couple of hours giving my kids their first rides in it.



Two 8 year old boys, and a 5 year old boy. Suffice to say, they loved it too, though one did say it was embarrassing being in it when everyone looks! The other 8 yr old said he wished some of his mates from school saw him in it.

Who'd have thought that an 8yr old thought a Hillman Imp was so cool, he wanted his mates to see him in it! Words you never thought you'd hear....

Bobberoo99

18,246 posts

56 months

Friday 11th August 2017
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Really glad you're keeping this updated, I tried to get down to see you at the Breakfast club meet, but couldn't get a ticket sorted, would have loved to have been there as I've never been and would have got to see the Imp!! frown

S100HP

11,053 posts

125 months

Friday 11th August 2017
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117bhp laugh

I need to drive it.

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Tuesday 5th December 2017
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Didn't realise I'd let this one slip so much!

Well, I have done more with it, and done more in it, but I can't remember any of what it was laugh

So here's a video I made a couple of nights ago. Yes, yes, it's a bit crap, but it was thrown together in less than an hour!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paGV7jXCfPE

1970's car and soundtrack. Perfeck...

M1C

1,242 posts

69 months

Tuesday 5th December 2017
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Just caught up on this thread - absolutely fantastic! Love it!

Kitchski

Original Poster:

6,342 posts

189 months

Saturday 3rd March 2018
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M1C said:
Just caught up on this thread - absolutely fantastic! Love it!
Thanks, I'd better update it then!

Shadow R1

3,540 posts

134 months

Saturday 3rd March 2018
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Kitchski said:
Thanks, I'd better update it then!
Yes please. smile

Dinoboy

1,946 posts

175 months

Saturday 3rd March 2018
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Great car, thanks for sharing.