1967 Hillman Imp Rootes Works Rally Car - highly original with lots of competition history
Reg. no. JDU 46E
Chassis no. B412016381HS0T
Engine no. 000S02
Rootes\' bold challenge to the all-conqering Mini was announced in 1960 and the Imp commenced manufacture at the Group\'s new Linwood factory in 1963. The Imp\'s design, by British standards, was as revolutionary as that of the Mini, and placed the all-alloy engine/transmission package at the rear of the car. With only 875 cc to play with, performance was adequate if not inspiring, 80 mph being manageable under favourable conditions, with fuel consumption averaging around 35 mpg. Coupe, van and estate versions were introduced, and the basic design would, surprisingly, turn out to have considerable competition potential, as evidenced by countless saloon car racing victories and three British Touring Car Championships. The Imp also served a Rootes frontline rally car from 1965 until 1968. After a fruitless first year campaigning the Imp with the normal 875 cc engine, the Works approved the Rally Imp as a Group 3 car for 1966. Badged as Hillmans, Singers or Sunbeams, the Rally Imps boasted 998 cc twin-carburettor engines, servo-assisted brakes, a better cooling engine and competition suspension among many other improvements. Driving a Works Imp, Rosemary Smith won the 1965 Tulip Rally (a handicap event) outright and went on to secure numerous Coupes des Dames and class wins, while other prominent Imp exponents included Peter Harper, Roy Fidler, Andrew Cowan and Colin Malkin.
The 1964 competing Imps were just not powerful enough so Rootes hired Marcus Chambers, who had managed the department that had developed the Mini Cooper \'S\' rally car. The larger 998 cc engine in the Imp was first used on the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. In 1965 the Rootes Competition team was joined by Des O\'Dell who had worked for many years with Aston Martin; in a short time he produced an engine developing some 95 bhp. With this sort of power in the hands of people such as Rosemanry Smith, the Imp proved very competitive.
In the 1965/66 season the Works Imps were increasingly modified, resulting in more class wins and top-ten finishes. The following year the competition department came under Chrysler control and the works Imps were dramatically improved. The \'Works\' Imps, those that were prepared by the Rootes\' competition department to be used in the rallies by works drivers, such as JDU 46E, used a 998 cc engine. This was achieved by boring right out, and re-sleeving, on selected blocks, to a bore of 72.5 mm. It had its Smiths tachometer, Lotus Cortina calibrated speedo and ancillary gauges in a works cluster behind the steering wheel. The suspension was altered and a bigger radiator was fitted as were a high-lift camshaft, twin SUs or Strombergs and a special Aston Martin exhaust manifold.
The Rootes Works team for the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally comprised three Imps - JDU 46E/JDU 47E and JDU 48E - all three were built at the end of 1966 and first registered in January 1967. JDU 46E on its debut rally was driven by Peter Harper/Robin Turvey in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally (3,400 gruelling miles) with the allocated No. 170 and it finished 2nd in Group 3 class, 46th overall and it was awarded the Challenge Trophy. This car was then driven by Peter Harper/David Pollard competing in the 1967 Tulip Rally with the allocated No. 89 and it achieved its best international rally result coming 2nd in class and 10th overall. Following that, the car competed in the 1967 Alpine Rally/Coupe des Alpes at the hands of Roy Fidler/Alan Taylor, with the allocated No. 83, but they retired due to a head gasket problem. JDU 46E was also used as a service car by Des O\'Dell the Rootes Competition Manager in the Circuit of Ireland Rally and Scottish Rally of the same year.
JDU 46E was prepared for the November 1967 RAC Rally to be driven by Rosemary Smith/Val Morley and allocated No. 5. Due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth and the resulting movement restrictions, the 1967 RAC Rally was cancelled at the 11th hour leaving many disappointed teams, drivers and spectators already in situ. To overcome this understandable disappointment the Rally organisers using nearby MOD land not affected by restrictions, put on what has become known as \'Rally Cross\' and this was the first rally cross event to be televised and JDU 46E driven by Rosemary Smith was a proud entrant.
We understand that following Chrysler\'s withdrawal from official rallying in 1969, JDU 46E was kept on by Rootes for a number of years as a service car before being sold for private rallies. By sheer chance years later it was discovered by an avid Imp fan, being used amongst other cars on a grass track racing business. He approached the owner and bought it, keeping it very private in his collection for years until the current owner was lucky enough to buy it. The paintwork is very flat and carries numerous battle scars from its competition life. The engine has been verified as being the engine prepared for Rosemary Smith and it could not by any means be described as a show car but the patina of it, combined with its history competing in the \'golden era\' of the \'60s Rally scene alongside the \'giant-killer\' the Mini Cooper S, makes this a truly unique and rare car. The car still retains its Halda Twinmaster, the Smiths/Heuer mastertime and stopwatch, in addition to the original fire extinguisher and route holder with Butler route and map light. There is a new style V5c.
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