twenty Hillman Imps on the starting grid at Silverstone

The Imp Site

From: John Lewis
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 2004


Stumbled upon this site by pure chance. It brought back memories of an exciting period over 40 years ago. Bill West and myself were responsible for the design of the transaxle i.e. the clutch, the gearbox, the differential and the hypoid final drive, and I was responsible for its subsequent development.
The attachments that follow this e-mail show a press release issued prior to the 1963 British Grand Prix announcing that 20 Imps were to drive a lap of honour before the start of the Grand Prix.
All of the Imps were completely standard and with 50 psi in the tyres it was possible to drive around Silverstone without lifting your foot off full throttle.

When the flag was dropped to start us on our lap, 19 cars raced away, leaving one on the grid. As pre-arranged the tanoy system then called on Mike Parkes to tell him he had missed the start. Mike was then seen running to his car, jumping in, and chasing off after the rest of us. When he passed me he seemed to be travelling half as fast as me again.
Us ordinary mortals drove into a corner at 80 mph and came out of it at 65 mph, the speed being scrubbed off by the tyres due to our handling of the steering. Mike, on the other hand, came out of the corners at about 78 mph. Needless to say he finished 1st.
Mike, of course, was soon to be a Grand Prix driver with Ferrari.
This is just one of many memories the finding of your excellent web site has reawakened.

John Lewis

Public Relations
Press Release

11th May 1963

     Press Release

For immediate release

Twenty Imps (and their boffins) at Silverstone

Britain's newest car - the Hillman Imp - will drive a lap of honour at Silverstone this afternoon.

Twenty of the Imps will be demonstrated on the circuit at 2.15 p.m. by the men who designed, developed and built this interesting rear-engined light car.

The backroom boys who today step into the limelight at the wheels of the Imps are:-

car no. 1 - Mr. T.S. Fry
Tim Fry is 28 and as a pupil was trained in engineering at Rootes. He was an original member of the team that conceived and built the very first small car six years ago. His personal experience covers many components and controls. He can handle the car extremely well, having lapped this circuit within 1/5th of a second of Mike Parkes.

car no. 2 - Mr. P.G. Ware
Peter Ware, 46-years-old, is the Rootes Group's Director of Engineering. He has been responsible for the overall design and development of the Hillman Imp since its conception and has supervised the work of the team of specialists which took the car from a draughtman's doodle to a production line reality.

car no. 3 - Mr. P.G. Manning
Pip Manning, aged 49, is the Rootes Group's Quality Director. A former apprentice with the Group, he operates a close liaison with production engineers and is responsible for ensuring that Imps are built to the highest possible standard.

car no. 4 - Mr. B. Campbell
Barry Campbell (52) is the Group's Home Sales Director. He has collaborated closely with the Imp's design team, bringing the salesman's viewpoint to many of the interesting design features. He has been with the Rootes Group for over 30 years.

car No. 5 - Mr. N. Garrad
Norman Garrad, the Competition Manager of the Rootes Group, has utilised his 40 years of International competitions experience in the planning and organising of long distance endurance testing of the Imp and tests by professional rally drivers.

car no. 6 - Mr. W.H. Round
Bill Round is the Quality Engineer responsible for all items manufactured at Coventry. He is in charge of the company's C.I.D., which not only stands for 'Criminal' but for Central Investigation Department. He is the policeman who keeps quality, law and order and watches the customer's interest.

car no. 7 - Mr. R.A. Evison
Dick Evison, aged 24, is an ex-apprentice at Rootes and started work on the drawing board in the Imp engine design office two years ago. He is at present Personal Assistant to Peter Ware.

car no. 8 - Mr. H. White
Harry White (37) has been Chassis Engineer on the Imp project. Suspension, brakes and control, in fact, have been his passion throughout most of his engineering career. He joined the Rootes Group in 1958 and is engaged on engineering research and long term design. The remarkable road holding characteristics of the Imp are largely a result of White's ability.

car no. 9 - Mr. D.J. Dudley
Des Dudley is 31 and has been with the Group five years. He has been working on the Imp project from its inception and has been engaged mainly in suspension design.

car no. 10 - Mr. Leo Kuzmicki
Fifty-two-year-old Leo Kuzmicki is Deputy Chief Engineer at the Rootes Ryton plant and has been mainly responsible for developing the engine of the Imp. Following a war career which reads like the page of an adventure book, he joined Nortons and became their chief engineer. In 1955 he joined the Vanwall racing team as chief engineer and a year later he joined the Rootes Group and has worked on the Imp project since its inception.

car no. 11 - Mr. Philip Laugton
Phil Laugton has been working in close associatiion with Leo Kuzmicki and has played a major part in the original design and development. He is now preoccupied with advanced research work. He is 30 and has worked at Rootes since leaving school.

car no. 12 - Mr. David Lloyd
Aged 30, David Lloyd is an ex Rootes apprentice and has worked in research for the last nine years. He is Engine Development Engineer and in that capacity did a number of Winter exercises in Canada with an Imp, where temperatures of minus 30 degreesF to minus 40 degrees F were sought out and found for carburation performance, cold starting, and so on.

car no. 13 - Mr. John Lewis
A Welshman from Abercynon, John Lewis, aged 31, has specialised in transmission design since 1955 and was assistant to Bill West, to whom the responsibility for the gearbox design was given. He is another ex Rootes apprentice.

car no. 14 - Mr. K. Sharpe
Few people know the Imp better than 27-year-old Ken Sharpe. As Development Engineer, he has tested the car all over the world, from the suburbs of Ottawa to the slopes of Kilimanjaro and from the M.1 to the Arctic Circle.

car no. 15 - Mr. M. Evans
Maurice Evans is another Welshman from Portmadoc. Aged 35, he has been a parachutist with 24 jumps to his credit. He has driven more than 50,000 miles in Imps during the last two years, into Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy and, of course, Wales. He was one of the original members of Tommy Sopwith's Equipe endeavor racing stable.

car no. 16 - Mr. R. Saward
After art school training and army service, Bob Saward (34) won a design competition for the car of the future. This led to his appointment as a Rootes Group stylist, from which he advanced to senior designer. In this capacity he was in charge of the styling team for the Imp and personally designed many of its features.

car. no. 17 - Mr. D. Cockell
Derek Cockell is a member of the Body Design Department. He is 32, has been with thr Group six years and worked on the original Imp prototypes. Before joining the Imp team, he was a member of the team responsible for the Sunbeam Alpine.

car no. 18 - Mr. E. Conrath
'Big Ted' Conrath has been 16 years with Rootes as a mechanic. Working exclusively with Imps in recent years, he knows the car inside out. His capacity for engine changing is formidable, it being on record that, working alone, he has removed a complete power unit in twenty minutes. This stems from having done 37 engine changes on one particular car in 15,000 miles over six months, as pat of a special test exercise.

car no. 19 - Mr. Jack Wyllie
Jack Wyllie has been six years with Rootes, working on engine development on the test bed. Both he and 'Big Ted' Conrath have been assisting the flat out endurance programme recently, doing stages at the wheels of cars that are the at the moment recording 1,000 miles per day, each, driven day and night.

  twenty Hillman Imps on the starting grid at Silverstone
photos taken from Modern Motoring and Travel 1963, July, p. 9,13

car no. 20 - Mr. M.J. Parkes
Thirty-one-year-old Michael Parkes is an ex-Humber pupil who acted as Project Engineer on the Imp until the end of last year. He co-ordinated the activities of the specialists working on the car and also carried out a great deal of the testing of it. Here his ability as a racing driver was of inestimable value.

With the compliments of the Rootes Group - Devonshire House - Piccadilly - W.1.
Telephone: Grosvenor 3401


In 'The Car's the Star' Jim Pollard says that at the opening ceremony of Linwood, they only had 20-odd Imps (and 3 trucks). Perhaps at this demo round at Silverstone, they used all the Imps they had?


Hillman Imp 7429 VC
Seems to me that this photo shows Mike Parkes and another boffin (Tim Fry?) finishing at the demo round described above, but I'm not sure.
The white Hillman Imp 7429 VC is the same Imp that all the boffins gather around for a publicity photo. The photo underneath is from the same series. I took it from a still of The Car's the Star (BBC Four).
The boffins of the Hillman Imp


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