Monday November 6, 2017
There is a select group of cars that really do look as though they have strayed from a Ladybird book or one of those Rank Look at Life travelogues, cars such as John Georgiou’s exceptionally handsome 1959 Hillman Minx Series III saloon that will be appearing at the Pride of Ownership display at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show.
With its maroon and cream paintwork and jaunty external sun visor you really can imagine it about to embark on a jovial family holiday to Swanage, with father donning his best cravat for the journey.
The Georgiou Minx is one of the ‘Audax’ series that were created with the assistance of Raymond Loewy Design. The first model to debut was the Sunbeam Rapier in 1955, a four-seater coupe for all flat-hat wearing Leslie Phillips types, with the launch of the Minx taking place in May 1956.
The timing of the introduction was perfect as the average fleet or private buyer was now ready to venture, albeit tentatively, into a brave new world of modest tailfins and duotone paint. A Minx De Luxe combined a sense of Americana with an affordable price of £773 17s; the Special Saloon was £25 cheaper but that lacked the chrome decorations that were essential to maintain one’s position in suburbia.
Under the bonnet was a 1,390cc engine that was both robust and fairly economical and the new Minx had the additional advantage of being considerably easier to park in Croydon High Street than your average Chevrolet Bel Air.
The Rootes Group progressively altered the Minx throughout its 11-year production run, the 1957 Series II having a new radiator grille and for the 1959 model year the Series III boasted 1,494cc power, further modifications of the frontal treatment and, according to the advertisements, ‘deeper cushiony seating’.
A Minx Series III also had the very dubious distinction of starring in the 1961 horror epic Dr. Blood’s Coffin, an everyday story of a Cornish GP who decides to reanimate the dead for no good reason whatsoever. Not entirely surprisingly, the Hillman walks – or drives – off with the main acting honours.
As for John’s Minx, he bought it from an insurance clearance company in 2012. He then drove the Hillman for a couple of months before ‘taking it to a mate’s garage to look at the underside – originally it had looked ok, but I wanted to check it out’. And what the inspection revealed, in an experience that will be familiar to many of us, was ‘on the removal of the underseal there was more rust that had been patched up by filler than you could imagine. So, I decided to restore her’.
And the result of all of John’s devoted and painstaking work over the months and years is a Hillman that would have been as suited to transporting Marty Wilde or Billy Fury to a transmission of Oh Boy! as it is to cutting a dash at a sales conference somewhere near Fareham.
Cars such as the Georgiou Minx are essential to the classic movement as they are not only highly enjoyable legacies of Britain's motoring heritage, they are also social history on four wheels.
Lancaster Insurance have been arranging classic car insurance for over 30 years, so we really are the experts!