Rootes Group + HQ ute in Vegas + Armstrong Siddeley answers - Mailbag 422

By: Unique Cars magazine

rootes australia rootes australia

Inside this month's Unique Cars mailbag


Chrysler did what?

Hi guys, great mag. While reading your article on the Hillman Hustler and the takeover of the Rootes company by Chrysler it reminded me of the story of how the American bosses erected a sign outside their building in Port Melbourne that read "Chrysler - Rootes Australia" it didn’t stay long when they were advised of its meaning in the local vernacular!


Also it appears that many do not know the significance of the Holden lion badge. Well when I was an apprentice spanner monkey at Gee-Em-Aitch in the glorious 1960s, we were told that centuries ago when lions formed a major attraction at the weekly gladiator matinee a philosopher noticed a caged lion rolling a rock around under its paw and that’s how they got the idea for the wheels on the chariots. The lion with the orb on the Holden badge signifies transport. Keep up the good work

Graeme McIntosh

ED: Come on… someone out there must have a Chrysler-Rootes Australia photo – send it in please!

Well-travelled Ute

I was very surprised to see a car that I owned about three to four years ago featured in an article in Unique Cars. It was the Blue HQ ute for sale on Gateway Classic Cars in Vegas. I had bought it from an older Italian Gentleman from Melbourne.

I flew down, picked it up and drove it straight away from Melbourne to the Gold Coast, never missing a beat. It didn’t have power steering then and was dual fuel, with Cheviot mags. I did a fair bit of work to her, including fitting the power steering, some rust repairs, and a complete overhaul of front and back suspension. I read with amusement the description of the US-styled bonnet mounted SAAS gauges. They were just cheap oil/temp and tacho gauges from Autobarn, as the ones in the dash were not very reliable, and I mounted them to the air-flow grille in front of windscreen.

I was hassled by this kid from down south to sell it to him after having it for 18 months or so and ended up selling it to him. Not for 31,000 Aussie dollars, that’s for sure!

It still has the old Narva driving lights that I had taken off my HJ sedan.

I’ve got another HQ ute now with everything the blue one didn’t have and I’m very happy with latest acquisition.

Alan McKitttrick

ED: A great story, Alan, thanks. I wonder how it ended up in Las Vegas?


Mystery Solved


Whilst trawling the internet looking for all things Armstrong Siddeley, and in particular information on similar models to the ones I own, I came across a ‘The Ones That Got Away’ article, on, from early last year.

I immediately recognised the featured AS Station Wagon as one of my cars, namely RVS 378…! To answer your possibly rhetorical question "It looks to be in good order and at just $2000 should have found an owner, so we ask: Where was this rarity built and where is it now?"

I can fill in some of the gaps if they haven’t been provided by your Australian readers !

The AS Whitely Station coupe ute was sent to Buckles in Sydney in 1951 or 52. Price: approx. £1,200 compared to a Holden ute for £700 (which is why AS utes quickly lost out to Holden).

Before being sold, it and possibly two others (one which may survive in Australia), were converted to Station Wagons by Sydney coachbuilders McDonalds. At some time it was owned by a bandleader and it used to transport the band’s equipment and instruments, including a double bass.   Jump forward a few decades and a UK Armstrong Siddeley collector/dealer sourced the vehicle in question and shipped it back to the UK in 1990.  This chap overhauled the engine etc. and used the vehicle for many years and it attracted interest wherever it went. He passed away a year or so ago then I bought the vehicle. I intend keeping it as original as possible as it has had such an interesting life, travelling to Australia and back being just part of it. An anomaly to which I can’t find an answer – the original fuel tank was removed from the nearside under the vehicle and a replacement square tank fitted behind the driver’s seat and the filler neck relocated to the offside, why? Please note: Some of the vehicle’s early life is quoted from various reliable and documented sources, but some may be apocryphal.

I also own two other AS, a 1959 Star Sapphire automatic and a 1951 Hurricane 18hp 2.3-litre manual (a rolling restoration). Also of possible interest, The Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club in the UK is a strong and well supported club, as is the Australian Armstrong Siddeley club, from whose members some of the ‘down under’ information was supplied.

Kind regards, Jeff Jann

ED: Many thanks, Jeff. It never fails to amaze us how many mysteries like this are solved, given a little time.


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