The humble little Imp was a trendsetter in several ways. But I’m not talking about pneumatic throttles… not today anyway.
Question: Does the 1963 Hillman Imp feature the earliest European production example of a ‘glassback’ or opening rear window? I’m going to stick my neck out and say it does. Yes, the 1959 Austin A40 (Farina) Countryman’s split tailgate arrangement could be said to predate it, as indeed did that of the earlier Chevy Nomad but I’m discounting both on the basis that not only is there a solid looking steel pressing holding the glass in place, it also forms part of a hinged drop-down section. (An arrangement the Range Rover cleaves to).
Whereas that of the Imp is (apart from a slim metal frame) almost entirely composed of glazed material. Which leads me to wonder if the Imp was Tom Karen’s (or whichever of the innumerable ex-Ogle designers lining up to claim credit) inspiration for the 1968 Reliant Scimitar GTE’s glassback, or indeed of Richard Teague’s 1970 AMC Gremlin – to say nothing of Jan Wilsgaard’s 1972 Volvo P1800 ES?
And just to illustrate how observant I am, it just occurred to me that the Chrysler Sunbeam’s rear hatch treatment was probably a cynical attempt to visually link it to the Imp, a detail I missed in the intervening thirty nine years.