Rootes-Chrysler mailing list archive 2004-2006

For various reasons, this is a fairly incomplete archive, but it does still have lots of good info; this archive covers the Yahoo mailing list which is now closed. The Rootes-Chrysler mailing list is currently active at Topica.

Vic Hughes

I found the Swallow/Arrow development story particularly interesting. Something that has often been raised in other lists is the likeness between the Arrow and the MkII Cortina - and I can see even greater resemblance when looking at some of those early clay mock-ups. It has even been suggested that some industrial espionage may have taken place!

[He posted this to the Hillman list, and Jan Eyeman of USA, a long time Hillman owner, wrote back:)

I have a book on the Cortina and in the book it is pointed out that Ford of England bought an Audax Minx while they were designing the Cortina Mark I. It was parked in their design studio and the designers were told to build a better Minx!!!

Up until the point that I read that book, I always assumed that Rootes had somehow copied the Cortina Mark II (although both debuted at the same time). Now, however, I think Ford may have copied the "Arrow", actually, I think they copied one of the styling proposals that Rootes had made up in clay in 1/2 scale in April of 1963. It was one of the last of the Swallow projects. The key is knowing that Ford was basing their design on Rootes designs initially.



Check out this month's Car of the Month!

Oh, by the way, Roy Axe stated that there are no links, and he cannot see any real similarity between the Arrow and the Cortina MkII. He did say that many lessons learned from the Cortina MkI were incorporated into the Arrow.

So now you know :-)

Regards, Keith


Hi all

I┤ve just joined this list and was wondering whether someone out there could help me identify the origin of a 2 litre engine used in certain South African "Arrow" models.

The engine is a wet sleeve 4-cylinder of 1971 cc with a bore and stroke of 88mm x 81 mm. It came with a twin choke downdraught Solex SEIEA carburettor and produced 98 bhp.

I thought at first that it might have been the same engine as used in the Chrysler 2 litre but I think the capacity of that engine was 1981 cc. I haven┤t got any specs of this 2 litre engine used in the Chrysler 2 litre so I cannot really compare their specs.

Did the Chrysler 2 litre engine also come with wet sleeves?

Also, seeing as we┤re on the subject of engines, what was the origin of the 4 cylinder engines used in the Chrysler 180/2 litre range of models?

Were they based on existing Simca engines of the time or were they a completely new family of engines designed from scratch for these models?

Thanks in advance for any information on the topic.



Russ Maddock

I'm pretty sure all the V8 Super Snipes ran Chrysler engines. They were built after the takeover when Chrysler were tryiing to figure out how to keep the V8 models going without using Ford engines.

There is rumoured to have been at least one V8 Venezia which was used by Brian Rootes. I think this was supposed to be running the Ford 289.

Old Motor magazine (precursor to Classic & Sportscar) did an article on V8 Rootes models. I think it was December 1981 if the notes I've kept are correct. They wrote about a proposed Sceptre V8. From memory, there was a picture of a V8 Super Minx which was being used as a development mule.


Many thanks for your reply Keith,its good to see some more enthusiasm for the Tagora!My own car....?Having owned and currently owning a cache of rootes and chrysler vehicles-the very notion of actually owning a Tagora seemed like a very slim one.

Although we never actually had a Tagora in our family my father who was also brought up on rootes vehicles- naturally followed the gineric chrysler product cycle- and i was brought up on a succession imps avengers alpines simcas etc.

On being such a loyal and valued customer my dad would natually be invited to all the product launches at our local dealership and as a treat would take me along with him - the first i can vividly remember was the alpine launch of 76 followed by the sunbeam,solara and then in May 1981 the Tagora!This date in time would prove very memorable in my mind-I was 10 years old, my favourite popgroup Adam and the Ants were No1 in the hit parade,and Swansea city my local football team had just been promoted to the 1st division, Britain also had royal wedding to look forward to!...

Perhaps the most important thing however was my 1st testdrive that my dad had allowed me to accompany him on, in the -you guessed it! Talbot Tagora! With only one in the showroom for display and test drive purposes the car struck an imposing figure in the front lefthand side of the showroom. Parked right next to a solara the difference in size and scale to all the other cars present was very noticable, the interior in all its early 80s architecture was like a veritable banqueting hall-if a tad stark,and its bluff front seemed like breath of fresh air to all the then current audi-granadalike front ends. My dad thought it drove very well too even if he thought it was slightly too large for his tastes. That was that, one solitary peony red 2,2gls Tagora, once that was sold- the showroom floor was not ever going to be graced by another. It was to be this intriguing fact- and the cars total obscurity in its production and post production life- plus the fact that i knew the car from new led to my secret desire to eventually own an example of this almost totally forgotten vehicle- praised by the press from new and then condemned by its maker and then the buying public alike.

Forward the time clock to 2003 and the spring edition of Practical classics featuring Ron Bensleys beautiful black 2.2 gls. I suddenly recalled seeing a tagora being driven locally about 5 years previously by an oldish gent- where had it disappeared to? Could it ever come my way? Had it been scrapped?

By pure chance my father had bought a copy of Classic car weekly and was for once very reluctant for me to have a look inside it!"you dont want to see that" he wryly remarked" theres somthing in there that i know you'll fall for!" If that was not like putting a red rag to a bull i dont know what was! Peering through the ads i found what i was looking for!"Talbot Tagora GLS 2.2 one owner 22years ring Swansea 0179......SWANSEA!!!!on my own doorstep!Needless to say i was on the sellers doorstep before the end of the afternoon- and low and behold it was the very same car that i had remembered seeing some 5 years earlier if in not quite the same condition that i had recalled it being in.It was quite strange being confronted by a Tagora having not being in such close proximity to one since the 1981 launch - especially as the grey interior plastics that i had remembered being so fresh had now mellowed into a mildly sunkissed sepia tone,and the executive features such as the electric windows and power steering are now common fare on even the most basic of superminis!Of course i bought it there and then- collected the paperwork and arranged to pick her up. The car a blue grey 1981 gls 2.2 was initially a dealer demonstrator in a neighbouring dealership and was sold to the previous owner- a doctor in febuary 1982.It was only through his ill health and the cars mot failure that the decision to sell was reluctantly taken,it was testiment to the Tagora that although he had bought 4 new hondas during this period he loved the car so much that he kept it purely for weekend transport and touring- taking in many trips to scotland and europe.A nice touch for me is that it is locally registered-a rarity for Tagora as most were pre registered in coventry for fleet work.Since buying the car nearly a year ago i have concentrated on getting the parts i need to get here roadworthy again - the cars main problem being rather moth eaten rear trailing arms and rot in the back half of the sills-i have now obtained the trailing arms(Thanks Ron!)and am now preparing to fit them to the car.I have driven the car on private land and i must confirm that it handles a rides absolutely beautifully shaming a lot of more modern machinery to boot-i must admit i am relishing the prospect of preserving this interesting if ultimately sad piece of motoring history for the future. I have posted some pictures of the car in the gallery and over the coming weeks shall post some more pics of my hillmans and talbots both old and new.If there are any other "tagoraists" in this group it would be great to here from you especially if you do have experience of stripping down the rear suspension - any tips would be greatly appreciated! Andy Davies

Ben Earl

Is there a shortage of Rootes cars for Car of the Month? It wouldn't surprise me if there was. I originally come from just down the road from Ryton, and don't even see any old Horizons any more! I remember when I was growing up the place was chock full of Hunters and Imps, mainly because half the people here used to work at Ryton and so got cheap cars. Now they all drive 306's!

Even my Dad had an Imp for a bit. It was one of the last ones made, and all I remember was the brake pedal falling off one time. (I was only about 3 when he had it, he also claimed it was a Chrysler Imp. Was that right or is this his memory distorting things? I thought all Imps were badged as Hillmans?) It may have been a great car when new, but by the late 70s it had fallen well behind. He upgraded from an Imp to a Polo and the difference was incredible. Mainly because of the age difference in designs rather than any inherant design weakness.

If only they'd been able to develop a replacement quicker, they might have stood a chance.

Keith Adams

Hiya Ben,

Nice to hear from you.

I think you're right, and it comes down to the lack of rust proofing on the Chrysler/Talbot badged cars. I remember a neighbour of mine telling me that his car - a Horizon Pullman - needed its floor welding after only 18 months of ownership (he bought it new).

I suppose it comes down to the fact that these cars seemed to be conceived with Southern European climes in mind. Mind you, I've been to France twice this year (both times, to the south) and only saw one Horizon the entire time. Sad, I know, but true.

I guess it's upto people like us to make sure what's left is saved from the crusher.

Regards, Keith

Russ Maddock

Nope, Imps and Imp variants came with Hillman, Sunbeam, Singer and Commer badges, but never Chrysler.

Sometimes the later model Imps are refered to as Chrysler Imps to differentiate them from the more "pure" earlier models.

Vic Hughes

Early ones yes, but I'm sure the later Centuras came with a 4 speed. Because of local content regulations Chrysler Australia didn't have a 4 speed for the six cylinder engines until sometime in 1972.

They actually raced the 'hemi' engined 4 litre Valiants at the Bathurst 500 mile endurance race with a 3 speed and did remarkably well - 4th in 1970 behind 2 Falcon GTs (similar size car with high output 5.7 litres V8s and 4 Speed boxes) and an XU1 Torana (ie the Holden modified Viva with the triple carby 3.1 litre 6 plus 4 speed - a much smaller lighter car.) They would have finished better except for a muffed pit stop when one of the wheels wouldn't come off.

[Webmaster note: see for full details.]

Russ Maddock

They sure did. When I had my Imp resprayed I left the pentastar off and filled the hole. I don't think I'm the only one to have done that!

I think all Rootes cars got the pentastar treatment. I've seen them on everything from Imps to Alpines.

My now departed '70 Hunter didn't have any Hillman badges either. Even Chrysler Australia advertising of the period doesn't mention the Hillman name - just Hunter with a pentastar logo.

Maybe Austin Rover copied this strategy because they did the same thing when they ditched the Austin badge.

Russ Maddock

I think you're right. AFAIK the 120 meant 120bhp.

Dale Turley

""Finally, I am assuming that the "120" part of the name refers to the gross bhp of the model although I have not found any evidence to corroborate this. Can anybody please confirm the bhp figures, both net and gross, and let me know if I am right re the significance of "120".""

It sure does Graham, although they weren't being wholy truthfull! The intended (and claimed) power output was indeed 120bhp, but the factory tuning left a little to be desired. Twin Webbers are notoriously difficult to set up - rarely will two identical cars running twin Webbers exhibit identical power outputs! Some H120's had around 105bhp, and some as much as 140bhp, straight out of the box! Dale

Ben Earl


Just because I'm bored(!) I was trying to compile a list of Rootes flavoured toy cars I know of, in 1:43 scale. Here's where I'd got to so far. I've used the British names for the cars for consistency.


Chrysler Horizon Simca 1100
Chrysler Alpine
Talbot Tagora
Talbot Solara
Simca 1501
Simca 1000
Matra Bagheera

French Dinky
Chrysler 180
Chrysler Alpine
Simca 1501
Simca 1501 Estate
Matra Bagheera
Simca 1100

Hillman Hunter Rally
Hillman/Sunbeam Imp

Lledo Vanguards
Hillman Minx
Hillman Imp
Singer Chamois
Sunbeam Alpine

Singer Gazelle
Singer Vogue
Sunbeam Talbot
Sunbeam Rapier
Sunbeam Alpine
Humber Hawk
Hillman Imp
Hillman Minx

Spot On
Humber Super Snipe Estate
Sunbeam Alpine

Hillman Avenger

Sunbeam Rapier

Talbot Sunbeam Rally

Chrysler Horizon

Russ Maddock

I've got a Corgi Rancho. There's also the Corgi James Bond Sunbeam Alpine (which is different to the Corgi-Lledo-Vanguards Alpine.)

Lansdowne did a Series III Alpine.

Somerville did the Sunbeam-Talbot saloon and Alpine.

There was an expensive white metal fastback Rapier recently, but I forget the maker.

How about the Matchbox Yesteryear 1927 Talbot van? :-)

Russ Maddock

Also Provence Moulage did Alpines in all sorts of configurations - sports, Harrington, Tiger, etc.

Oh, and there have been several models of prewar Sunbeam racing and record cars


Hi all,

although I once drove Honda 600, I have also driven a 1970 Chrysler Simca 1204. The Simca was a super car, with soft suspension and many miles' of wear. The Simca was my Dad's, and it was a station wagon; "The best car I've ever owned!" He says. -Marshall

Marcus Chambers

A couple of Rootes group vehicles in this months Retro cars magazine. Hillman Avenger (A.S.O.C. member John Rosenblade) and a S1 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Good photo's with OK write up.


Keith : A couple of months ago, I found your site, searching on Internet for information about the Hillman Avenger. I have a site about the argentinian cars from Chrysler in the 60s and 70s, including the Dodge 1500 ( ). I've send you some mails to share information about the Avenger/1500, but none of them were replied. Despite mi site is in spanish, I can send you information in a basic english (that you could understand) to complete the data you have.

┐How can I get in contact with you?


PS : Sorry to post a message here, but I don't know how to make contact with you.

Francisco Boscolo

OK, here we go then. Down here I made a copy of the mail that I've send to you a couple of months ago. And I must also append to this, that I can maybe make some writings to your site about the models from Argentina if you want.

Keith : Hi, my name is Francisco Boscolo (FJSigma) and I have a site dedicated to the cars Chrysler produced in Argentina in the 60s and 70s. I'm sorry about my english, is not good, but I hope you can understand me anyway. I was looking for information about the Hillman Avenger and came to your site. It is very interesting and very well documented. I took a lot of information from there. I wrote you at first to let you know about my site ( ) so you can take all the information you want from it. My information about the argentinian Avengers is more extensive than yours. Maybe you are not interested in it, but maybe you simply don't have it. I have various pictures from the Dodge 1500 and the evolutions. I allready took yours, you have some really rare pictures. In second place I came to the other site from you (Austin-Rover.Co.UK) and just found that the Morris Marina has some look like the Avenger. Even the wheels from some models are similar, and more interesting even are the rear stop lights that look very similar to those from our Dodge 1500. Unfortunelly those pictures don't have a very good quality, so I can't take a closer look to them. Also the front grille on some models looks like some North American Plymouths, and others look like the first series of the Avenger with the single headlamps. Where those models (Avenger-Marina) ralated in any way? Do they all belong to Chrysler USA? The Marina was launched in 1971, just a couple of years after the Avenger. Were they designed by the same team? Do you know anything about that? Is it simply a coincidence?

Thanks anyway for reading such extensive letter. If I can help you in any way, just let me know.

Best regards (does it say so?)


Keith Adams

Hi Francisco,

Apologies for the late reply

Wow - that's an amazing site you have there - and when I next update the Rootes-Chrysler site, I will link you to my pages.

As for your questions, the Marina and Avenger were unrelated (Marina was styled by Roy Haynes, and the Avenger, Roy Axe), and are similar through coincidence. The styling of the era dictated sloping bootlines and neat frontal styling. In the same way, the Citroen CX and Rover SD1 - they were styled to match the fashions of the moment. A few people I know feel the Avenger and Marina are close - just like the Hunter and Cortina MK2.

Regards, Keith

Ian Hawle

Keith, I hope this gets through to you. The 180 is sold it has gone to three members of the Simca Owners Club. I now have a 1965 Singer Vogue I will send pics as soon as I can. Regards Ian

Francisco Boscolo

Those Rostyle wheels, are they a brand or just a design only?

Do you understand the spanish used on my page (, or should I translate something to you? Do you find the data interesting, or you just don't care about it?

May I use the pictures in your site to enrich mine? It will be clear of course that they came from you.

Here is attached a ZIP file with the corrections I've made to your site in the parts from Argentina (as we prevoiusly agreed) that I've found wrong in your site.

The vinyl roof in the Plymouth Cricket is slightly different in the back from the one in the Chrysler Avenger sold in New Zealand. Wich way was in the UK? Or it just changed in the restyling from 1976?

The door handles in Europe, remained unchanged in the Avenger through the years? And In the two series from the Sunbeam? Because back here in Argentina, in 1980 when it begun to be produced by VW, they changed for more sleek ones. When the Dodge 1500 turned into the VW 1500, they were satin black in the middle, and in 1985 they became all satin black (not just in the middle), like in the Sunbeam. Did the Avenger or the Sunbeam change the door handle shape?

Do you know if the intake and exhaust manifolds came in one piece on the Hillman Avenger Tiger?

I've changed all the data from the Avenger in my site, with the information taken from your site. I've added also some interesting articles ("Notas") found on magazines with the design of the 1500 based on the Avenger. Take a look. I've added also a road test with the Dodge 1500 with automatic gearbox and one with de Dodge 1500 with the 1.8 engine running with AlcoNafta (a kind of fuel made with a percentage of alcohol taken from the sugar cane). We don't use it anymore, but is funny anyway.

Since you have brochures in your site, I think you will find of interest a brochure I have in my site from the Dodge 1500. It was given to my by a guy from the "Club del 1500" which nikname is "Tano Tony" (we call "tano" to the italian guys). I've asked him about giving it to you, and he's OK. You can take it from my site and add it to yours. The credits are all to him. We can't tell you the year it was published, but I can tell you it is from the first series : 1971-1973, because since 1974, it was not equiped whit those wheels anymore.

I've seen in your site that you have some pictures from te Avenger that are not from the brochures. Are they from advertisements? Do you have them scanned? Could you send them to me scanned? They are very interesting to me.

I've got the magazine "Retro Cars" from february, you recommended because of the article from the Avenger Tiger. I've found it very interesting (not only because of the Avenger), but it says that the Avenger Tiger Mk2 had the 1500 engine in place of the 1600. Do you agree with that? What do you think? Is it true?

OK, I'm sorry because of the trouble again. I hope you understand. (The need to know)

Ben Earl

OK, I really *am* bored, so was looking through some old Press cuttings.

Apparantlyu when Shergar went missing, the Police were looking for a brown Hillman Hunter Saloon that was seen towing a horse trailer away.

Any more obscure Rootes/Chrysler links to famous events?

Russ Maddock

Rostyle was a brand. The "RO" part stood for Rubery Owen, the manufacturer.

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