red rally Imp - designed by Nick Webb, 1985
    Des O'Dell 1971 Scottish Rally
  Des O'Dell, contemplating Malkin's Luxembourg Imp. In the middle of the night he brought them a spare 998 engine, as the 1040 cc had lost all compression.
Scottish Rally 1971, Inshriach

The Imp Site


Works Imps

In 1964 the Imps that were used in rallies were basically standard Mk I Imps, not powerful enough to mean anything beyond class level.
Rootes hired a new Competition Manager, Marcus Chambers, who came from BMC. He had managed the department that had developed the Mini Cooper 'S' rally car. Chambers was unhappy with the Imps capacity of 875cc. "This was a grave handicap as far as I was concerned as it placed us halfway between the rarely used 750cc class and the 1,000cc class. The engine developed 39bhp and I knew it needed another 31 hp in order to be competitive." (M. Chambers, Works Wonders, MRP, 1995). To make the car more powerful the 998cc engine was slowly developed. This was first used on the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally.

In 1965 the Rootes Competition Team was joined by Des O'Dell, who had worked for many years with Aston Martin. He had then moved to Ford Advanced Vehicles, where he had been involved with the GT40. O'Dell immediately set about arranging deals with Roger Nathan, Paul Emery and Thomas Hartwell for the supply of tuning parts. In a short time he produced an Imp engine which developed some 95bhp. With this sort of power in the hands of people such as Tiny Lewis and Rosemary Smith the Imp proved very competitive.

In the 65/66 season the works Imps were increasingly modified. 66/67 saw more class wins and top-ten finishes, but one continuing handicap was the Imps's lack of disc brakes as regulations usually prevented their use as a modification.

During the next season the competition department came under Chrysler control and the scale of the operation was reduced. Fewer cars for fewer events. Work switched from preparing works cars to supporting private teams and drivers.

In 1969 Chrysler withdrew from official rallying. A car had been built for Andrew Cowan to use on the 1969 Scottish. This is the car which Andrew never used.

Results of the Works Imps (1964 - 1970).
Imps in rallies (post-Works) 1970 - ...
(Both files are very incomplete, of course).

    Twinmaster rally equipment, January 1965
 Navigator's panel and scuttle-mounted tachometer. See also interior of JVC 123E
 rally equipment, January 1965
 Stoneguard for the plastic fan
 rally equipment, January 1965
 Adjustable headrest on the navigator's seat
 rally equipment, January 1965
 Three separate washer systems: two for the screen and one for the headlamps

Alphabetical list of Rallying Impers

The 2003 Berwick Classic incorporating the Berwick Classic Sporting Trial
Saturday 3rd / Sunday 4th May, 2003
20. David Cull / Alison Cull. - Hillman Imp RWT 486E. - Barnsley
David has owned this car for over twenty years and the only original panel is the roof such was the build quality at Hillman's Linwood plant. The 2001 Berwick Classic was their first competitive event and since then David has decided that front disc brakes were a wise move, otherwise it is a standard car.
29. Alan Farquharson / Les Campbell. - Hillman Imp YPT 240F. - Montrose
Alan purchased this car in Newcastle, hence the Sunderland registration number, and despite the 'F' plate it is actually a September 1966 car. He has modified the engine so that it is now 915 cc with a sport head and cam, twin carbs, Janspeed exhaust and front disc brakes. Alan finished an excellent third overall on the 2001 Angus Classic making the most of the Imp's nimble handling. Navigator Les is usually seen behind the wheel of a Sunbeam Stiletto but a great shortage of navigators in Montrose this weekend has forced him to take the left hand seat.

The Berwick Classic. - Sunday 4th May, 2003
60. Brian Hodgson.- Hillman Imp HDG 766K. - Penrith
Brian rallied an Imp as a youngster and is hoping to find a 998 cc engine to replace the standard 875 unit

Heyndijk & Klarenbeek won the Group 2, class 1 Star Rallye of November 1970. A mud wrestling match with delightful stages. StAR: Foundation Automobile sports Rotterdam. Participants can choose their own route, as long as they check in at all the control posts (Gulf petrol stations) within a certain time.
Heyndijk & Govert de Jong in a Sunbeam Imp, Yperen June 1971, 12h. rally
Group 2: class 850-1000cc. They came second, behind an NSU. (slippery roads)

  Bryant & WIlson in 1975 Lancia-Pointer, 4th overall
Peter Bryant (driver) & Colin Wilson (nav.)

The magazine Cars & Car Conversions had a team, both race and rally, in 1975 which included an Imp: WGT 6M.
In their September 1975 issue they write:

Colin Wilson, now fully recovered from his unfortunate eperiences on the Shenstone and the Scottish rallies, rejoined Peter Bryant in his much refettled, now orange-coloured Chrysler Imp. And on the Lancia-Pointer they actually finished fourth overall, winning the class by a comfortable margin as well.
It was Wilson's best ever result and Bryant's best ever result as a driver. The Imp, now prepared at Tony Gilham's Abbey Garage in Croydon, was running Revolution wheels for the first time, ad Avon's crossply knobblies were used throughout to great effect.
The following weekend was the Arkell, when the Imp finally succumbed to its first mechanical breakdown in 15 rallies: the transaxle expired thoroughly.

The Lancia-Pointer rally was the 5th round in the Clubman's rally champioship.

The real shocks of the event came from the performances of the drivers in our Class A - up to 1300cc. There were three Imps in the first eleven cars home and one of them now leads the overall championship by a clear point.

Peter Bryant provided the biggest surprise, extracting considerably more from his newly painted 998cc Imp than he ever had before. He was clearly fastest on the first run through the slimy, tight concrete tracks of Hockering Wood and actually led the rally at lunch by two seconds. A rather more subdued afternoon left him fourth overall, despite using Avon's crossply knobbly tyres on every stage - even the airfields.

Almost as amazing was the run enjoyed by Dick Lust, whose rather demon 902cc Imp was seeded at 105, but finished 6th overall. Lust, 25 years old comes from High Wycombe and has sponsorship from Vulcan Trailers. His six points were his first of the championship, but presumably not his last.

Jon Lloyd was next up, taking the 11th place and four points with his Chrysler Imp, now repainted white and red in deference to new sponsors Fell, Arthur and Bennett, brake part suppliers of Mosely Road, Birmingham. Jon's car was tackling its fifth rally without a rebuild, despite which is now heads our champioship table.

See also: Jon Lloyd

    Des O'Dell

On old and minor roads, use standard or RAC (higher & stiffer). Also a (lightweight at the least) sumpguard would also be sensible to protect the oil filter as well as the sump.

Tuning Rootes Groups Cars for Competition, by Marcus Chambers

The Imp Site
   Competitive Imps
      Rallying Imps (this file)
      Results of the Works Imps (1964 - 1970).
      Imps in rallies (post-Works) 1970 - ...

External links:

© Franka
Edition: 5 Feb. 2012
File started: 1996


There was at least one Imp in the 1973 Scottish Rally, as shown on the Ford motorsport archive films.

There was at least one Imp in the 1971 Circuit of Ireland Rally, as shown in the Castrol Classics dvd 'A Dash of the Irish'. Paddy Hopkirk is an interviewer and driver in this 'no practice' Rallying.

There was at least one Imp in the 1000 Lakes 1968, as shown in the Castrol Classics dvd 'Flying Finns'.