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The following History of the Hunter in Australia was taken from Modern Motor magazine, November 1979.
HistoryThe Hillman Hunter, released in Britain in October 1966, was developed from the much loved Hillman Minx and shared most of its mechanical components with that car. Indeed, the cheapest British version of the car retained the Minx name tag until 1970. In its home country the Hunters are badge engineered and sold as Humbers, Singers and Sunbeams but fortunately we were spared that ridiculous marketing method in this country.
The project name for the Hunter range during its design stages was "Arrow", and that title is used in Australia to designate the base model which was only sold during 1967 and 1968.
Local assembly of the Hunter was begun by the Chrysler Corporation in Lonsdale, South Australia early in 1967 and the first sales took place in May of that year.
The early cars are known as the Hunter HB series and the original range consisted simply of a basic Hillman Arrow sedan and a slightly better-equipped Hillman Hunter. A wagon, the Hunter Safari, was added to the line-up in May 1968, and in November of the same year minor changes were made to front end styling rectangular headlights replaced the previous round ones and the HC range was born. At the same time an upmarket version, the Hunter Royal, was introduced.
A few weeks later the Hunter GT was released with a much more powerful twin-carburettor engine and full instrumentation.
In October 1970 the front and rear end styling were again slightly altered (different and smaller headlights and different taillight treatment) and the car became the Hunter HE. Yet another luxury model, the Royal 660 (intended by Chrysler to be a sort of low price Valiant Regal 770), was added to the top of the range. At the same time the Hunter GT had its name changed to Hustler in an attempt to confuse the insurance companies who were involved in an anti-GT campaign at that time.
(Ron Beckett's note: Not strictly correct. In Australia, the Hunter GT became the Royal 660. The British GT was, I understand, the equivalent of the Hustler, which although it had the GT motor, it only had a standard plastic dash, rubber mats etc. Wheels magazine January 1971 shows photos of the interior and noted "low-priced, almost austere trim and equipment". The GT and the later 660 were top-of-the-line luxury models, equivalent to the Humber Sceptre in Britain. The dropping of the GT nameplate was, however, insurance driven.)
Late in 1971 Chrysler Australia started to assemble the Mitsubishi Galant range of cars and almost immediately sales of the Hunter range began to drop off as buyers recognised the superiority of the Japanese vehicle. The last Australian, Hunter was built late in 1972 but due to a stockpile of cars many were sold new during 1973.
Model RangeA very plain base model called the Hillman Arrow was sold only in 1967 and 1968. This car has rubber floor mats, does not even have a heater and the front bucket seats do not recline ... not very attractive but at least the price is right. The mid-range car is simply called the Hunter and is a much nicer car than the Arrow. It is carpeted and the front passenger seat reclines but the driver's seat doesn't. At least the designers got it half right! A heater was not standard until 1972.
The next car up the line, the Hunter Royal, does have a reclining driver's bucket seat as well as a vinyl roof, woodgrain door panels, heater and courtesy lights in the glove box and boot.
The luxury car, the Royal 660, is a very attractively set out car. As well as most of the Royal extras it has the more powerful engine of the Hunter GT and Hustler, power-assisted brakes, extra instruments (including a tachometer) set in a walnut woodgrain fascia, and styled road wheels. The vinyl roof, which is standard on the Royal, is only optional on the Royal 660.
The sports sedans in the range the GT and Hustler naturally also have a full range of instruments and are painted in spectacular fashion, especially the Hustler badges. As well as the decorative features, the Hustler is improved by having the suspension lowered to improve the car's roadholding. The high performance cars are often driven hard so be meticulous when checking them before purchase.
(Ron Beckett note: Again incorrect. Only the Hustler was painted in "spectacular fashion", e.g., big decals, matt black bonnet and window frames. The GT was quite sedate although the HC GT was available with stripes down the side at the bottom of the doors and mudguards (wings/fenders to overseas readers.)
Body TypesOnly a very limited range of bodies has been sold in the Hunter in Australia. Initially only four-door sedans were sold then in May 1968 a four-door station wagon with a one-piece, lift-up tailgate was released. In common with (Chrysler) Valiant naming practise the wagon is called a Hunter Safari. The wagons have a low floor and a lot of load space.
MechanicalThe four cylinder, overhead valve 1725 cc engine was developed from the Hillman Minx engine originally designed in the early Fifties. The engine is robust because of its five main bearing crankshaft but is not very free revving. The performance versions fitted to the Hunter GT, Hustler and Royal 660 have an alloy cylinder head, a higher compression ratio and twin Stromberg carbies which increases its power from the standard 55 kW to a lusty 70 kW. A four-speed, all syncromesh gearbox is standard on all cars and a three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission is an option on all except the GT and Hustler. (Note: The auto was available on the 660). Wagons prior to 1970 did not have the automatic option. All automatics are controlled through a floor shift lever.
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This page was last updated 9th August 2012