The 'Asp' sports car
picture nicked from 'Apex : the inside story if the Hillman Imp'.
That's the best book on Imps. The authors
David & Peter Henshaw published this photo courtesy of Tim Fry.
 The 'Asp' - prototype for an Imp based sports car
Negotiations with Jensen to build the Asp came to nothing
Picture: Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, June 1982

The Imp Site

The Asp

Even before the Imp had reached production, the Rootes' engineers had realised the versatility of the Imp's layout and the potential in the all alloy OHC engine. In 1962 a meeting took place with the specialist car firm of Jensen Motors ltd. over the feasibility of manufacturing a sport version of the Imp, code name the Asp. Tim Fry had done the styling, along with Bob Saward and Ron Wisdom. Jensen were already undertaking subcontract work for BMC (manufacturing the Austin Healey). They were asked to undertake a design study of the Asp on the basis of manufacturing 500 units per week.

The car was to be made of steel and fitted with either the the standard 875cc engine or a larger 998cc version. Meanwhile the specialist body makers Williams and Pritchard of North London were asked to produce a set of moulds so that, as an alternative, the car could be made from glass fibre.
But the Asp project was dropped through lack of resources and the fact that feedback from America seemed to indicate that the car was too small in a country used to Detroit monsters.

The prototype Asp sports car was an advanced and attractive design, built by Tim Fry. It used Imp mechanicals and had a perimeter chassis. The same platform could be used for a forward-control people carrier or light van.

Alan Fraser Engineering purchased the Asp from Rootes.

What happened to the Asp? Rumour has it, it was seen at a show in Scotland in 1999 ?

Classic Cars March 94, article on the development of the Imp with loads of pics of works prototypes:

"The Imp-based but front engined had a 998 with pistons running directly in aluminium bores. Tim Fry; "It went like the clappers and the handling was super... The Yanks [the Chrysler representatives] canned it out of hand, 'what do you want a silly little car like that for?', and then their compatriots proceeded to buy as many Midgets and Spitfires as they could lay their hands on".

From: Martin Freestone, a former employee at Rootes
Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2005

The Asp prototype was only a fibreglass one-off, held together with self tapping screws, as in: a show model. But it was on a working Imp platform. A director of Rootes took out his secretary to lunch in it one day, without asking anyone for permission. It made it there & back, but he never did it again.

The Imp Site
   The Imp Family
      The Imp Prototypes
      Asp in the M.I.R.A. wind tunnel

Rootes Asp (Apex) Sports Car (1 or 2 ?, 1964) / R.J. Allan

© Franka