|Hardtop Sonic should have plenty of appeal to the younger set|
It's a little hard to decide which category the Hillman Sonic fits into.
Not quite a sports car, but hardly a soft top version of a staid sedan, the Sonic would seem to have created for itself an exclusive section of the around $2000 market.
Sure, convertible versions of small sedans have been available before, but few of them have had the appeal of this sleek, well finished and attractively priced newcomer.
Pulse-quickening specifications such as Coventry-Climax designed overhead camshaft alloy engine driving the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox with short, floor mounted gearshift, fully independent suspension, rack and pinion steering and engine options up to 105 BHP will surely be enough to attract hordes of pseudo Brabhams and Clarks to Chrysler showrooms throughout the country.
And all this starts at the basic retail price of under $1800.
|Not quite a sports car but hardly a convertable sedan|
- the sporty Sonic convertible
The development of the Hillman Sonic range was a point of effort by Chrysler Australia's Port Melbourne plant and Eiffel Tower Motors of Dandenong, authorized Chrysler dealers. On reaching a certain manufacturing stage at Port Melbourbe, the cars are handed over to Eiffel Tower, where the final fitting out of hard or soft top components is completed.
The final result is quite eye-catching.
|Detail finish of hardtop is first class|
Basically, the Sonic comes in two versions: removable hardtop and soft top convertible. In hardtop version, the prototype of which is shown on these pages, the car has a roofline which sweeps sharply to the rear, giving a sleek, aerodynamic appearance.
With hardtop removed or with the folding soft top tucked away out of site behind the rear seat, the Sonic's real appeal becomes evident. The unimpaied vision, the feel of fresh air against the face, and all the exhilaration of sports car driving is there.
Passenger comforts, however, go a little beyond sports car standards. Wind-up windows are provided for each front seat passenger, sun visors are fitted as standard equipment, all-round legroom is more generous than with the usual run of sports cars and luggage space, while it could hardly be described as overwhelming, is adequate for the small family.
The overall standard of finish is on a par with most cars within the same price range - and that's saying something for a relatively small-volume locally manufactured product!
|Wide opening doors allow easy entry to front or rear|
On a money-for-perfomance basis, the top of the line Sonic 'Director' hardtop, with 65BHP engine and claimed maximum speed of 100 mph, could, with a price tag of just over $2000, prove to be the cat among the pigeons in this price bracket.
Other models are the basic Sonic 'D.T.', which comes in either convertible or removable hardtop form with the 42 BHP motor, and will retail at $1799; the 50 BHP Sonic which is capable of going over 80 mph and is to be priced at $1879; and the Sonic 'Executive', with dual carburettor 55 BHP engine, carpeted floor, divided rear seat squab (a la Imp GT), door courtesy switches, dual horns and other distinguishing features, which will be retailing $1949. (at the time of going to press, these proces are subject to possible variation).
Optional equipment includes tonneau cover, removable rear side screens (standard with convertible), heater demister and layback left front seat. Options which will provide rocketting performance include a 1000 cc 80 BHP engine and a 1020 cc 97/105BHP full competition engine. To tame all this extra power, special five inch wheels with high sped tyres and lowered suspension settings are also available.
With this comprehensive array of separate models and the impressive list of optional equipment, the Sonic range should suit the requirements of just about any motorist.
Melbourne and metropolitan deliveries of the Sonic range will be ex Eiffel Tower's plant, and Victorian country and interstate buyers may negogiate delivery and servicing arrangements through their nearest authorized Chrysler dealer, who will arrange supply of the vehicle by liason with Eiffel Tower Motors. All models will be covered by full warranty.
An Australian firm made convertible versions in the 1960s - See Chrysler Sunbeam Imp 'Sonic' cabrio
Australian Motor Manual 1968, June. - p.36-37
The Imp Site
The Imp range
Hillman Stiletto / Hillman Sonic
File version: 1 Nov. 2013
File start: 1997