“Britain has a new car to be proud of”, says the man in a voice so typical of the era, as the Hillman Avenger comes hurtling into view. There’s plenty of understeer and body roll in evidence as Britain’s great hope for export makes its way around the MIRA test track in Warwickshire.
If we’re honest, there isn’t anything festive about the video, but we’re using the snow piled up along the edges of the track as a valid reason to give it a Christmas spin. The test driver is also doing his best to give the Avenger a spin…
With an accompanying soundtrack, that doesn’t sound too dissimilar to something dished out by The Shadows, the video is classic British Pathé.
Note the trim levels: De Luxe, Super and Grand Luxe. Oh how we miss trim levels that sound like this. You knew where you stood in those days. With a De Luxe, daddy was doing OK. With a Super, he was on the up. With a Grand Luxe, daddy was the daddy. A Christmas bonus would have been on the cards, too. Maybe even a £10 voucher to spend at Woolworths…
The ‘car for the seventies’ was set to be launched into 50 markets, including the USA as a Plymouth and South Africa as a Dodge. Of course, the Avenger we all wanted was the Tiger, a performance edition that delivered on the car’s true potential.
Sadly, not even a production life spanning over 10 years, and subsequent rebadging to Chrysler and Talbot, could save the Avenger from spiralling into obscurity. Today, they are all but gone.
As for WUC 201G – the Avenger featured in the video – one of our eagle-eyed readers has tracked it down in Malta. It’s in near-perfect condition, we’re told, and owned by one of the original Hillman test-drivers. Great to hear!