The Gillie
photo supplied by Gary Henderson

The Imp Site


Around 1970 Rootes looked at the Mini Moke idea and had a prototype made: Gillie.

Don Kitchen, the 84 year old [2007] Rootes engineer who designed the reduction gearbox for Gillie:

"Since we were an isolated engineering department (Tillings Stevens - Maidstone, Kent) away from many eyes, we were requested by Coventry Engineering (it came from one of the Rootes Bros.) to produce a prototype vehicle similar to the Jeep bus, based on the imp.
We took a graduate straight from Unversity, Ken Barnes, to run the exercise. It was very much a hands on job. I was involved in producing the drawing for the hub reduction casing, left and right hand drive wheels. Ken Barnes was given a chassis from Linwood (I remember this arriving by truck and the body had cracked on the journey from Linwood). Ken took out 18" of body length, added strengthening side members and pop riveted the lot together. It was painted green - had a canvas hood - code named Gillie."

"It was tested one Sunday on a quarry at Maidstone in front of the Rootes Bros. and then shipped to their estate in Scotland. Never seen or heard of again. The test people however said it performed extremely well - the hub reduction gearing being very effective."

This part of Don's letter was given to me [Aug. 2007] by Howard Pettigrew ( for use on my site. He is in contact with Don Kitchen, the former Chief Engineer, Rootes Diesel Engine Division, who drew up the plans for the reduction box / axles. Mr. Kitchen has been writing his memoirs for the newsletter of Mr. Pettigrew.

The prototype was never put in production.


After Imp12, Clark sent me 4 photos.

[photo supplied by C. Dawson]
1024 x 768px     [photo supplied by C. Dawson]
[photo supplied by C. Dawson]
[photo supplied by C. Dawson]

From: Clark Dawson
Date: 30 August 2012

"Hope you get the photo of my new find.
Will be rebuilding it over the winter.
Will not tell you what it is, as I am certain you will work it out.
Let's say it was like a old oil painting with the original under it."



Advert on e-Bay UK
Seller: jodie123basketball
Starting bid: GBP 400.00
End time: Jul-30-06

"The way in which this Hillman Imp has been customised is that it is now a front wheel drive and the engine was taken from a Mini automatic.
The car does run, however it does need an accellerator cable. Also it is fully road legal and is tax exempt.
In need of a lot of T.L.C. and the cover to the car on the passengers side [window] is in need of repair. This would be a great project for anybody.
Although does need a M.O.T. Will need to be towed or trailered."



The then-owner of the Gillie visited the National Weekend in 1992 at Beale Bird Park, near Reading UK. At that time it was pink.



From: Peter Harris
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2001
Subject: Hillman Imp Gillie

"As for the Imp Gillie, I met it when working at Richardson's Garage in Bitteswell Road, Lutterworth, Leicestershire (about ten miles from Ryton) as a 16/17 year old schoolboy in 1971/1972. They were dealers for both British Leyland and Rootes Group.
It belonged to Graham Richardson and was painted metallic purple and was fitted with Formula 1 tyres at the back, but standard Imp tyres at the front. The Gillie was in working order and was regularly driven, but being open-topped, the British weather limited the times it could be used !"

From: Tim Ware
Date: Sun, 20 and 22 Jun 2004

[...] My name is Tim Ware son of Peter Ware - technical director at Rootes in the imp days. [...]
[...] I will have a further look through the depths of your web site and see if it triggers any memories that I can write down. I was quite young during the Imp development so dont remember much though I can claim to have driven the Ghillie the farm variant to challenge the mini moke that was never manufactured. [...]


Golly a Gillie. - Classic and Sportscar 1991, October. - p.32

Thoroughbred and Classic Cars 1982, June. - p.29.

The Imp Site
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The Gillie might perhaps be confused with the BS Nymph or the Siva Llama.


'Gillie' is one of the Scottish Gaelic words that has found its way into English.
Man or boy attending a sportsman in Scotland while fishing or shooting.
In Gealic 'gilla' just means 'servant'.