Archive 1962 footage shows UK manufactured Hillman Minx competing in East African Safari Rally

In a wonderful look back at the history of the East African Safari Rally, this 1962 made Rootes Group film, features the car manufacturer’s Hillman Minx which was the winner of its class in the 3,080 mile race.

The commentary for the film is provided by Raymond Baxter OBE who was an English television presenter and writer. He is best known for being the first presenter of the BBC television science programme Tomorrow’s World, which he fronted for 12 years, from 1965 to 1977. He also provided radio commentary at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the funerals of King George VI, Winston Churchill and Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and the first flight of Concorde.

The Rootes Group

Run from London’s West End, the Rootes Group or Rootes Motors Limited was a British automobile manufacturer and, separately a major motor distributors and dealers business.

For ten years from 1928, brothers William and Reginald Rootes, who had become wealthy through their successful distribution and servicing business, decided to enter manufacturing for closer control of the products they were selling.

With financial support from Prudential Assurance, the two brothers bought some well-known British motor manufacturers, including Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot, Commer and Karrier controlling them through their parent, Rootes’ 60-per-cent-owned subsidiary, Humber Limited.

At its height in 1960, Rootes had manufacturing plants in the Midlands at Coventry and Birmingham, in southern England at Acton, Luton and Dunstable, and a brand-new plant in the west of Scotland at Linwood. From its offices in Devonshire House, Piccadilly, in London it controlled exports and international distribution for Rootes and other motor manufacturers and its own local distribution and service operations in London, Kent, Birmingham and Manchester. There were assembly plants in nine countries outside the UK.

Rootes Group was under-capitalised and unable to survive industrial relations problems and losses from the 1963 introduction of a new aluminium-engined small car, the Hillman Imp. By mutual agreement, from mid-1964, Rootes Motors was taken over in stages by Chrysler Corporation, which bought control from the Rootes family in 1967. By the end of 1978 the last of the various elements of Chrysler UK had been sold to Peugeot and Renault.

Hillman Minx

The Hillman Minx was a mid-sized family car that British car maker Hillman, part of the Rootes Group, produced from 1931 to 1970. There were many versions of the Minx over that period, as well as badge-engineered variants sold by Humber, Singer, and Sunbeam.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, the Minx and its derivatives were the greatest-volume sellers of the “Audax” family of cars from Rootes, which also included the Singer Gazelle and Sunbeam Rapier. The final version of the Minx was the “New Minx” launched in 1967, which was part of the “Arrow” family and essentially a basic version of the Hillman Hunter. Generally, the Minx was available in four-door saloon and estate forms, with a 1496-cc engine.

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