One of the more left-field restomod projects currently passing through the Retropower process is this Hillman Imp, a car built as a tribute to the Imps built by Greetham Engineering for much of the 1970s. Classic, fast road cars with rev-happy engines and buckets of character, Greetham fettled Imps soon became cult cars in their own right, which is why we jumped at the chance to put our own stamp upon one when the opportunity arose.
You can learn a little more about the back story of this build by clicking through to the dedicated project page here, but seeing as we’ve made a fair bit of progress in the last few months, we thought we’d bring you up to speed.
This will ultimately be a part time road car, part time track car, and as such it lives and dies on its engine. We’ve had this built by a racing Imp specialist, Rodwell Motorsport, and its spec screams old school tuning at its purist, so think an aggressively profiled cam (GE3 race spec, actually) with equally aggressive timing, 25mm exhaust ports, multi-angled valve seats with enlarged throats, race spec valve springs, titanium collars and much much more.
The block, actually from a Sunbeam, has been carefully machined for a life spent at the upper echelons of the rev rang (this thing is projected to top out at 8200rpm), with wet liners, a dowelled alloy spacer plate, various block strengthening modifications, and a baffled, large capacity sump. It now boasts 74m cast pistons fitted with NPR metric rings, billet con-rods and crank, a lightweight flywheel and Helix clutch.
Not everything on the Imp’s engine dates from the decade of the three day week and flared trousers however, namely its induction setup. It’s crowned by Jenvey throttle bodies fitted to a combined inlet and exhaust manifold, all governed by fully programmable ECU. We know what you’re going to say, and we agree – this thing will sound utterly unhinged once completed and at full chat.
A track car it might be, but that’s no reason not to devote time and attention to its exterior, which is why this particular Greetham Imp now looks like no other. The bodyshell, now painted an attractive hue called Vauxhall Sunny Melon, has recently been fitted with both its custom front grille, rear panel and ‘boot.’ The roof-mounted spoiler supplied by the owner, formally from a Mk1 Astra SR of all things, has been joined by headlights, re-chromed front and rear bumpers, and in a finishing touch, its full complement of glass.
There’s still a great deal of work to be done to the interior, though it does at least look a lot more like a complete car now that its Alcantara headlining has been applied and its dash, complete with Speedhut custom gauges and ‘Greetham Engineering’ logos, mocked up. The latest addition is the custom bezel shown here, soon to be home to the car’s electric water pump display, or at least the custom bezel we’ve had made to house it.
The wiring loom is midway through being rationalised and the gearbox has yet to be mounted, but the end is at least in sight, meaning there’s less time between now and the time we finally get to hear that manic engine shriek!