1974 Hillman Avenger saloon
The Rootes Group introduced the Hillman Avenger in 1970 as their contender in the fiercely competitive small family car sector. It rivalled the Morris Marina, Vauxhall Viva and Ford Escort and generally was reckoned to be more luxurious, exclusive and ‘up market’ than the others. This example has been in the possession of the same owner for many years and is regarded as a family member. So when the car became in need of much restoration, this was undertaken although the end result cost many times more than its current market value. But, as there is no intention ever to sell it, such considerations are to a certain extent academic.
This photograph shows the car as it arrived; a non-runner with filler evident in the wings and rust on the bonnet. Underneath it was much worse . . .
The car had been parked outside for many years and the ultraviolet rays of the sun had bleached and distorted the interior trim and plastic. This was to cause us many headaches later.
The engine bay wasn't a pretty sight and much work was needed here. The engine needed a full rebuild and everything else in the engine bay had suffered from oil and corrosion over the years.
Stripping the bodyshell down revealed extensive rusting. The outer front panel was very poor but the inner one was mostly saveable.
This front side view of the nearside sill shows the localised rot. We make up our own panel sections for small areas like this and always cut the rust out, especially on the welded seams. Although this makes the work slightly more expensive it pays dividends in the long term.
The bodyshell is nearly ready for painting. The wings and doors are new - we were lucky to find them. So is the bonnet which is actually a 'new old' panel - an original Rootes panel that had been in storage for 30 odd years. We later shot blasted it to remove the surface rust prior to painting. The grille is fitted temporarily to ensure adequate clearances with adjacent panels.
Just back from the paint shop, the bodyshell has been sprayed throughout in its original colour, except underneath which is a neutral black colour.
Here the restored engine and gearbox are being re-fitted. Some of the engine bay fittings were restored whilst others had to be renewed if we could find them.
And here is the finished engine bay looking like it would have in the showroom over 30 years ago. It is MOT'd and all ready to go.
A rear view of the finished car. I always liked the distinctive 'banana shaped' rear lights of the Mark 1 Avengers - sadly this feature was removed on later models. There are new hubcaps but they weren't fitted when this photo was taken - they were actually in the boot!
And here she is, just like new, looking superb and ready to give just as much driving pleasure as more exotic classic cars. She is now kept in a garage, safely away from the ravages of sun and rain.