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Humber Australian History
Humber Enthusiasts Group Of NSW
Australian History

Accurate history has always been hard to write, careful research can sometimes pick up someone's genuine, or stupid mistake or a rumour, & this soon becomes a fact which is hard to disprove. We are making a genuine attempt to provide people with a history which is as accurate as possible. Much information has been lost over time & may never be recovered. What follows is a summary, then bits & pieces of information added as they come to light, or time permits.
General History
The history Of Humber in Australia is somewhat different to the English history, due largely to the opening of the first overseas Rootes factory in Port Melbourne just after World War 2.
Pre war, the Humber was moderately successful, especially in the 30's as patriotic British alternative to the large, reliable & reasonably priced American cars which were favoured here. By 1915, South Australia alone had 202 Humbers, the 4th most popular car there.
Humbers, Hillmans, Commers, & for a short time,Singers,were built/assembled with varying local content from CKD kits supplied by the UK. These vehicles were built to the utmost quality standards, contributing to their reputation for reliabilty.
The Mark Hawk & Super Snipes were almost identical to their English counterparts- it was not until the Series Cars were introduced that the models started to differ significantly.
New models were not released until several months after their UK release, not unusual in Australia even today. The Series 1 Snipe was introduced mid 1959. In 1963 the Humber Vogue Series 11 was released, a highly successful badge engineering exercise of the the Singer Vogue. This was closely followed by the unique to Australia Vogue Sports,with a Sunbeam Rapier engine & numerous other modifications, which was supposed to make up for the absence of the Sceptre on the Australian market.
The immediate success of the Vogue was at the expense of the Hawk, production of the final Series III cars ending late 1964, they were still listed for sale as late as April 1965. The re-roofed Super Snipe Series 5 & Vogue Series III were released early 1965. The Vogue Sports was dropped due to the Vogue 111 now having the Rapier motor as standard.
In 1966 Rootes in Australia was totally absorbed by Chrysler Australia production of the Vogue was dropped & assembly of the Super Snipe 5A commenced.
In England at the start of 1967 it was announced that the production of the big Humbers had ended, however in Australia, they continued assembly of the Snipe 5A for an as yet unconfirmed amount of time. The car was still listed in New Car Price lists in local motoring magazines as late as mid 1969 and at least one was bought brand new off the showroom floor in 1970! But from then on Humber had ceased to exist in Australia.

Humber Racing
Mark 1V Super Snipes were very successful in Australian reliability trials (rallies) coming 2nd outright in the 1953 round Australia REDex trial, and it is not now well known that Humbers competed in the now internationally famous Bathurst race, albeit without any success to speak of. In the very first Bathurst 500 in 1960 a Series II Super Snipe competed. In 1961 yet another Series II finished 5th in its Class. In 1964 a Vogue entered & finished without a major placing. In 1965 another Vogue entered but retired when an upper control arm broke.
REDex Trial Mark IV Super Snipe
Super Snipe Mark IV......This car in many ways was responsible for Humber's excellent reputation & sales success in Australia from the mid fifties to the mid sixties. It was certainly the best engineered Humber ever built, the specially built royal tour cabriolets gained much useful publicity, as did success in REDex trials (rallies). In the days before comfortable 4WD's, well to do farmers & property owners had a luxury car that could go just about anywhere & tow anything due to incredible torque & good ground clearance. Many Mk1Vs still rest on isolated properties around Australia, and were in a lot a case replaced by Series 5's as this was the model available when most country MkIVs were on their last legs. Unfortunately treating these cars the same way resulted in broken rear axles & diffs, broken front subframes & much interesting damage to the lower body. Dismayed, the farmers turned to Ford Fairlanes & Mercedes Benz for their luxury farm hacks & this also helped contribute to Series 5a sales slowing to a crawl.
Interestingly, Australia did not produce any Mark IVb's from CKD kits, they continued production of the Mark IVa unchanged using the MkIVb engine number sequence, which probably confuses some registrars, the only Mark IVbs in Australia were fully imported.  

Contempory Magazine Articles... are a good source of dates,information etc. OR ARE THEY? Take for instance Modern Motor (Australia) February 1967 ran a road test on the NEW Series 5 Super Snipe. A 5a you say? No it had late 1965 Number Plates & a photo of the engine bay clearly shows a regulator for the generator. The article was also critical of the gear ratios, a problem with the BW DG not the BW35. It also referred to the Rootes Group, which by 1967 was long dead in Australia. Finally this knowledgable scribe noted that in England, Super Snipes with manual transmission had power steering. He ment this literally, ei auto transmission did not! (in Australia, manual transmission was not available & power steering was only available from 1964 on, as an expensive dealer fitted option- this was a PBR/Bendix conversion- nothing in common with the Hydrosteer unit)So- you can see how he worked his statement out....

Australian Federal Government Series IV Super Snipe
Special Build Government Series Cars - Humbers were used by various levels of Government in small numbers & various configurations for many years (the Royal Tour cars are well documented).In the early sixties Rootes started building relatively large numbers of "standardised" Super Snipes, mainly Series 4 & 5. standard specification meant black paint, red carpet, no airconditioning or power steer, grab handles above the rear windows (similar to UK limousines)& a red strap across the full width of the rear of the front bench seat, plenty of thoughts come to mind as to why Government officials required all this help to remove them from their seat. Many cars also had a flag holder fitted to the bonnet where a mascot would normally go. Cars built for the Navy differed in both colour & extra fittings supplied. A Government driver with an excellent memory related to us the following,"Super Snipes were the favorite transport between Sydney & Canberra for both passenger & driver. We used to drive with our foot to the floor the speedo frequently hitting 100mph & passengers frequently falling asleep (remember that there were no freeways then!) fuel consumption under these circumstances was 12 miles per gallon. The Government Garages were not happy about the 8 pints oil change & frequent greasing required."
FOOTNOTE
This page will be added to & changed frequently.Accurate information is difficult to come by. Club Registers are generally like a black hole - heaps goes in & little of any use ever comes out. "chinese whispers" over the years has also distorted facts, & much information has been lost through the Rootes--Chrysler--Mitsubishi transition. We sincerely apologise if we have made any errors & would love to hear from you especially if you can give supporting evidence of any errors, thankyou

 

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