HILLMAN CAR CLUB
OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA INC

Brian Vogt the full story
Story and pictures by Brian Vogt
HILLMAN CAR CLUB
OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA INC


My first contact with Hillmans was early in 1966 when my parents bought a red Minx Series IIIA or IIIB De Luxe Estate Car (station wagon).  Late that year, Dad taught me to drive it in a quiet place, away from other people.  It was a nice vehicle; only the lack of synchromesh on first gear was a problem to the 12 year old me.

Above: our family hosted a Tongan visitor for a week.  (That's an 11 year old version of me, lying in the foreground).
By 1970, my brother and I had grown up, so Dad traded the Hillman in on a 1965 Ford Falcon XP station wagon.  The Falcon was very good, but Dad tried to buy the Hillman back from its new owner no sale; the new owner liked it too much !

Early in 1972, I started studying at university.  Dad bought me a Minx Series IIIA (which I bought from him the following year).  I wasn't interested in automotive mechanics, but Dad told me that I could either maintain the car myself or pay someone else to do it.  He definitely wasn't going to do it all for me.  The outcome was simple: I had no money, so I learnt to do grease-ups and oil changes.  Several months later, water/oil emulsion was noticed on the dipstick fortunately, the problem was only a rusted head gasket.  Dad didn't mind helping with the difficult stuff (like this one).

There was an "Automatic" badge on the boot, although it had a manual transmission (with a very long gearstick) that frequently jumped out of 3rd gear.  30 years later I discovered why.  The original transmission was a Smiths Easidrive these were prone to serious failure, so many owners did this gearbox substitution.

Pictured below in 1973 :  me (on the right, in the blue shirt), my brother (who would not now be seen dead wearing a tie) and the Minx Series IIIA De Luxe.  The hair style (or lack of style) was fairly typical in that era.

Pictured below, probably 1973 or early 1974.  We had 3 Minxes in the family :
  Left my parents' hack car (Series III) severely worn in all respects, it struggled to build up oil pressure.
  Centre my Series IIIA.
  Right my parents' Series V very mild-mannered and plain-looking, but neat, well-kept and reliable.

In May 1974 I pulled apart a rolled Minx Series II, to the last nut and bolt.  It had a heater (with airflow and temperature controls on the dash panel) and a blower optional Smiths accessories in the late 1950s. These items were fitted to my Series IIIA, as was a towbar found in a car wrecking yard 15 miles away.
Dad fitted the dismantled car's engine into the hack car shown at left, above.  Even after that, "it couldn't pull the skin off a custard" (as people used to say).

By the end of 1974, my brother had rolled the Minx Series V.  Sometime during 1975, my parents bought a Hillman Gazelle (special Australian model, based on the Singer Gazelle Series 6 but with the alloy head engine) to replace the crashed Series V.  I very quickly discovered that the Gazelle had a lot more horsepower, and the 13 inch wheels mount wider tyres, so the car isn't so inclined to follow the road depressions made by heavy trucks. (Radial tyres also help a lot).

Early in 1976, my Series IIIA's engine/gearbox assembly was replaced by that from the wrecked Minx Series V.  This was a fairly simple swap, except that the body's gearbox hump wasn't tall enough to allow for the Remote Control feature on top of the Series V gearbox.  The solution: cut the gearbox hump out of the Series V body, and bolt it in to the older car.  The Series V clutch hydraulics were kept intact, because the earlier model master cylinder takes a smaller diameter pipe and thread.  The rear axle and differential set also became Series V several months later, when the old one began making annoying groans.  Another simple bolt-on job.  That increased the overall gearing by about 10%.  The 10 gallon petrol tank from the Series V was also fitted.  No physical problems, but the older car's fuel gauge showed more than full scale deflection when the tank was empty, so the Series V fuel gauge (matched to the sender unit in the tank) came into the action.

During 1985 I became tired of wrestling the old Minx with its narrow crossply tyres and high steering gear ratio, so I ceased using it.  Early in 1986, I bought a Hillman Gazelle which had been left out in the weather for many years before I bought it; the paintwork and interior had suffered a lot of damage from sun and rain (leaking past the windscreen rubber).  Instead of the proper alloy head engine, it had a Minx donk probably something like Series III.  Before the middle of the year, it had so little oil pressure that it was barely useable.  The Series V engine was removed from my parked Series IIIA car, renovated slightly but not rebored (at 95,000 miles), and inserted into the Gazelle.  A few months later, the Borg Warner 35 automatic transmision was totally worn out, so it was fully rebuilt at great expense ($631).  I prefer a manual transmission, and had 3 good ones in the back shed.  However, the car body has transmission mounting points in the position for the longer automatic unit.  It seemed like a tricky welding operation to move them.
This car was still my regular work-horse until October 2000.

Early in 1988, Mum and Dad finally became tired of looking after old Hillmans, and committed themselves fully to BMWs, so my brother and I were given a Hillman Gazelle each.  I also got all of their spare parts (from 2 dead cars of the same model).  Later in 1988, a man approached me in the street, and offered me a partially restored Gazelle he couldn't give it away. I took it, but still haven't done anything with it.
I had heard of the newly formed Hillman Car Club of South Australia (HCCSA), but due to many other commitments, was unable to get involved.

In July 1998, I obtained a work transfer to Germany.  Free of my previous distractions, I joined the HCCSA before leaving.  This enabled me to get the Gazelle onto Historic Registration so I could keep possession of the original rego number (8804).
Since my return to Australia in May 2000, I have been heavily involved in the HCCSA Treasurer for 2 years, then Social Events Officer for 2 years.  Webmaster since October 2001.  The unsightly Gazelle has been a frequent participant in club runs but not anymore at least not until a full restoration, which might take several years.  My acquisition of the following classic (see next page) gives me some breathing space :

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