This is one of those cars that I’ve been meaning to get on here for a while now. It’s a model I covet highly, but has been resting in a box in the attic for a while now. But as some of you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram/Facebook, I recently dug out a whole heap of TLV to get to it. And it was worth it. This is maybe one you haven’t heard of, one that combines a classic British design and a stalwart Japanese manufacturer: the Isuzu Hillman Minx.
The story of the Hillman mark in Japan is probably not one you’ll be instantly familiar with. Post war, many of Europe’s car manufacturers were looking to the Japanese market with great interest. Strict rules set by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) however, were a barrier. MITI stated any foreign manufacturer had to enter the market only via technical agreements with domestic brands, and after 5 years 90% of parts had to be produced domestically. The Rootes Group, owners of Hillman, made a deal with Isuzu for the Minx to be produced at the Japanese brand’s Kawasaki plant. At the same time they also acquired the licenses to build Commer vans.
The first Isuzu built Minx rolled off the production line in 1953 and development kept pace roughly with the British models, and by 1958 the Minx Super Deluxe model appeared. They were far better equipped than the UK versions, featuring equipment such as an oil pressure gauge, ammeter, clock and radio as standard. And it’s the Super Deluxe that’s replicated by Tomica, and the version that like many full sized classics on a sunny Sunday afternoon, went for a drive into the British countryside…
Lamley readers will know by now the almost legendary Tomica quality, and this model is no exception. Quality is fantastic throughout from the faithfully replicated interior (instruments are even visible on the dash!) to the front spotlights to the sharp decals on the badges. The brilliant looking white wall tyres wrap around accurately detailed wheels and ride on sprung suspension. The gorgeous two tone paint has a real quality and depth to it and the attention to detail is fantastic.
It’s a real beauty of a diecast and a really cool addition to the collections of fans of both British and Japanese cars. And it’s remained relatively off the radar for most Tomica collectors. But while it may lack the “JDM YO!” scene points, or the draw of other European classics from Alfa Romeo and Lancia, it’s still a firm favourite of mine. Totally worth the unpacking of all those other TLVs. And I haven’t packed them all away just yet….
(Find the Tomica Isuzu Hillman Minx at Lamley partner Japan Booster and via other Ebay sellers)