Commonly known as the Imp Estate, this little vehicle has been much maligned by many. The loading space in the rear is a very sensible shape due to the 'square' design, and much can be carried along with a full compliment of passengers. Production began in April 1967 and continued until July 1970, the final production year for many models after Chrysler's takeover. (The Van was discontinued then, too).
4777 Huskies were made until October 1968. Then they got a 'face lift' together with the rest of the Imp range. Afterwards around 6000 were built.
The raised roofline (4" / 10cm higher than saloons) gave it lots of space above the engine compartment: 50cu.ft / 17.5 dm3 (which is a better loading potential than most estate cars and any hatchback). The roofline had to be raised because the engine caused a high load level. An early attempt to produce an Imp Estate with a conventional roofline was dropped in favour of the Van bodyshell because the load capacity would have been reduced and the cost of tooling to the factory prohibitive.
Unlike the Van (which made do with the low compression version of the 875cc), it was equiped with the 42bhp engine found in most Imps and Chamois'. The only alterations being made to the oil filter, the radiator and the dipstick to allow routine maintenance without lifting the engine hatch (retained by two 'Zeus' fittings).
The Husky has sliding side windows, which allow free passage of fresh air on hot days without draughts. Unfortunately these are also the source of leaks in many cars.
In its standard form it has the spartan interior of the Imp de Luxe. No glove compartment, no temperature gauge and usually only shaped rubber mats for the floor. Of course many owners have added Super Imp or Chamois trim to their cars by now to improve the creature comforts.
Huskies (mainly older models) enjoyed an assortment of colours for interior trim, including blue, red and green.
Because of its load carrying potential the Husky was always fitted with radial ply tyres on standard Imp wheel rims (12" x 4½"). This was to offset any handling problems encountered with a 'tail heavy' car. Uprated rear shock absorbers and rear springs were fitted, together with the Sport's strenghtened wishbones and trailing arms. This gives the car the handling characteristics rather alike a rally car (which will raise eyebrows, when the unsuspecting see you take a corner). The handling is superior to that of a standard Imp. You might try to run Husky rear suspension on your Imp and enjoy it.
Huskies are a very viable everyday classic with outstanding qualities in respect of road-holding and load-carrying.
Although it is 46lb heavier than the saloon, and the aerodynamics are worse due to the higher roofline, Autocar got 79mph out of it ! (It's supposed to have a topspeed of 72). They found it accelerated better than the saloon. (Rootes did not tune the cars that were meant for the press any differently.) Some standard cars have been known to do over 90mph without damage.
Now that the Imp is looked at as a collectors item, the Husky is still overlooked. The same happened to the Austin A35 pickup, until there were only a handful left and those are now worth a fortune. So next time you make fun at a 'high top' Imp, you had better find out if it's for sale. They are getting to be quite rare.
"It's not a hearse, it's a Husky" by Derek Couldry. Impressions 1988, no.5
Logo of the annual Van & Husky Get-together; Husky on the right
Hillman Husky & Imp Van Model Registrar (The Imp Club): Derek Couldry
The Van & Husky Get-Together is held at Penhurst Place near Tonbridge in Kent on Sunday and Nay Bank Holiday Monday. The objective of the event is to bring together as many owners of the marque as possible. There is free camping and barbecues and catering over the whole weekend. Details are published in The Imp Club magazine Impressions.
|Van & Husky Get Together|
|2nd||6th May 1991||Crystal Palace Park|
Richard McIntosh, Wed, 24 Jul 2013:
I found recently that I own engine block B481000109. That, I think, is an early one.
Strangely it has a tapped hole for an oil drain pipe (from the cylinder head) - something that I think is not standard for these cars when in volume production.
Also, many years ago, I bought a late Husky, that was registered in London. The Imp Club I remember updated its records of the last chassis number based on details I provided. Not to hand in Clevedon as I write this, I'll have to check later that your records are up to date too.
The most common enquiry received by the registrar concerns smoke entering the interior while stationary or at low speeds. In Impressions of Summer 1989 Derek Couldry comes up with a number of suggestions that may eleviate the problem.
It was found that the smoke does not come from the exhaust but from the engine. If the outside of the engine becomes covered with oil (due to leaks) it will smoke when hot.
Check the petrol pump gasket, the cam cover gasket, the pully oil seal, the sump and the oil filter.
Check if the engine breather is working correctly. (Even when clear it is quite small, but when it's obstructed by sludge, it will cause extra pressure inside the crankcase and therfore leaks. It may be possible to replace it with a larger pipe, which won't obstruct so easily.
The rear door seals can be repaired by using silicone sealant to fill in the holes that may be there.
After filling the sump with 6 1/2 pints of oil, it was dicovered that the dipstick was showing a shortage of about 2 pints. This is caused by the dipstick tube not meeting the spout on the engine block where they are joined by the rubber tube by the starter. A gap of 1/2" may result in the sump being overfilled by about two pints thus causing more leaks.
Roy Spicer of the 'Sunday Mirror' thought (Jan. 1968) that the HllIman Husky would win no prizes for good looks. "But when it is doing the job it is intended to do, it is superb. Easy to park and manoeuvre, it is a good economical family runabout."
Ken Barlow's page on his Husky
Before the Imp engined Husky there have been other Hillman Huskies in production. The first one in the '30s was a convertible two seater. Since the '50s it has been known to be a sturdy, comfortable four seater which combined speed with pick-up possibilities. It was based on the reliable, but rather sluggish 1200cc Minx.
Hillman Husky Mk. I (October 1954/1957)
Hillman Husky Series I (January 1958 to March 1960)
Hillman Husky Series II (March 1960 to 1962)
Hillman Husky Series III (1963 - 1964/1965) (chassisno. B2100001 or B21100001)