Hillman Imp Caledonian
Caledonia is the ancient Roman name for the northern part of Great Britain north of the Firth of Forth, approximating Highland Scotland. Although the Romans made repeated attempts from the 1st to the 3rd century to subdue the indigenous tribes they called the Caledones, they never succeeded.
The limited edition Caledonian model was launched by the Chrysler dealers in Autumn 1975. The price was in the region of £1275, still quite a few pounds less than a Sport.
On the 3rd page of their own newspaper Chrysler News of 1975, October 15th, Chrysler (UK) Ltd. wrote the following:
Here's a mighty little midget from the Chrysler range that goes a long way towards restoring the value to your pound.
For the Caledonian is no ordinary Imp. It comes complete with a host of trimmings and luxury extras and costs you scarcely more than the Imp de Luxe.
It's Chrysler's way of giving you a better deal for your money, in an all new luxury package.
From the moment you set eyes on the Caledonian you'll notice the difference; it's finished in a dashing cherry red with door mirrors, reversing lights, overriders, a decorative rear panel, side stripes and special sports wheel trim. And when you get inside, you'll notice the changes. The seat trim, for example, is in special patterned red fabric, the front seats recline right back and there's a push-button radio.
All of which, if you added it item by item to an Imp De Luxe would cost you a packet. But specially packaged the way it comes every Imp Caledonian will actually save you £166 on the price you'd normally pay for a car with all these luxury extras.
Add to this the Imp's exceptional fuel economy, flexibility and reliable performance and you'll understand why the Imp Caledonian will be practically irresistable.
One word of warning: Chrysler are only making a limited number of Imp Caledonians available, so the faster you get to your Chrysler Dealer and ask for a test-drive, the better chance you have of saving money on a Caledonian.
From the report by Robert Allan in Impressions vol. 8 (1988), no. 6
For a few years now, as Caledonian Registrar, I have collected records of Caledonian Imps, both those still on the road and those departed to the great showroom in the sky (where head gaskets last forever!).
The Caledonian is:
There are two controversies concerning the Caledonian:
1) Some have 'de-luxe' interior trim, that is black painted millboard panels on the doors and rear panels, with no cappings. Some have 'super' trim, that is black plastic covered board with plastic covered black cappings. The trim code is 000 on my cars which are of the 'de-luxe' variety.
2) Some cars were originally painted Cherry Red (my own are), others were supposedly re-painted in the factory having been returned from the dealers with faulty paintwork.
The first point is clearly correct. There are two types of trim in Caledonians as can be easily verified by going to National Day.
Caledonians on file
In my records I have information of 41 standard cars and 12 modified cars (with 998cc engines etc.). I am told that approximately 2000 Caledonians were made between 1975 and 1976. If the total production of Imps is 440000 then 1 in 220 was a Caledonians. That would mean that of 1300 members cars there should be at least 6 in the Club.
The lowest chassis number I have is 104306 and the highest is 112653. I do not have all production figures, but clearly more than 2000 cars were manufactured during this period, so they were not all Caledonians. That implies that either several batches of Caledonians were produced or (as suggested above indirectly) some cars were returned from dealers to be re-manufactured. If anyone can help with this issue of production figures and runs I would like to hear.
Finally, this letter is largely based on hearsay, and observation of a few real cars. I apologise, and urge you to correct me where I am misinformed.
When Chrysler were winding down production of the Imp in 1976 and were planning the Caledonian model, they originally intended the car to be white with red stripes. In fact six of these white prototypes were produced and eventually sold.
As Peugeots 405 / 406 were painted in Cherry Red, too, Caledonian paint is still available.
Allen's own Caledonian is from January 1976. He has owned it since being a student.
Imp Caledonian. - Chrysler News Vol. 1, No. 1 (1975, October 15th). - p. 3. - [Recent Car Releases: News and reviews]
Caledonian : report by Robert Allan in Impressions vol. 8 (1988), no. 6
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The Caledones were one of the main Pictic tribes. Picts weren't Celts,