Rootes Australia was the Australian affiliate of the Rootes Group, a British motor vehicle manufacturing company.
The company was formed immediately after the Second World War initially operating as an importing and distribution firm. It began assembling Hillman Minx vehicles at Port Melbourne in Victoria in 1946. This was the first instance of a British motor manufacturer establishing a production line in Australia. By 1954 the company had gained a 5.4% share of the local market and subsequently announced plans to create a full local manufacturing facility. A 35-hectare site was acquired for this purpose at Harrisfield (now known as Noble Park), near Dandenong in Victoria. However, the proposed plant was never built.
Hillman, Humber and Singer models were assembled successfully for a number of years. The company also produced models which were hybrids of the three makes. By the mid-1960s, falling sales and an ageing model line-up meant the Rootes Group was in trouble both in Britain and Australia. In December 1965, Rootes Australia was merged with Chrysler Australia and assembly was gradually moved from Port Melbourne to the latter’s existing facilities in Adelaide, South Australia. Chrysler was quick to phase out the Humber brand. However, new Hillman Arrow and Hunter models were introduced. Chrysler Australia ceased production of Hillmans in 1973.
Significant models produced by Rootes Australia included the following:
- Hillman Minx - assembled from 1946.
- Humber Super Snipe - assembled from 1953.
- Sunbeam Mk III - assembled circa 1955
- Sunbeam Alpine - assembled circa 1955
- Humber Hawk – assembled to 1964
- Singer Gazelle - assembled from 1957 to 1961
- Hillman Super Minx
- Humber Vogue - assembled from 1962 to 1965.
- Hillman Imp - from 1964
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