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Hampton Motor Group (HMG) [Generations II]


Hampton Motor Group (HMG) [Generations II]

Overview and Early History

The Hampton Motor Group was established in 1948 in Warwick, England and has grown from relatively small beginnings to a major volume manufacturer. Its origins can be traced back to 1936, when the Warwick Motor Car Company was established. It was intended to launch with two models, the Voyager and Wayfarer, but the outbreak of the Second World War halted these plans due to the factory being destroyed by a Luftwaffe air raid. However, after the war, a young entrepreneur named Toby Hampton saw the potential in these two models, and bought out the entire company along with the rights to its model and engine range, renaming the former after himself in the process. By the autumn of 1947, the factory had been fully rebuilt, and production of the Voyager and Wayfarer commenced in the spring of the following year, marking the start of HMG as a whole.

Historic Model Range

This list will be updated as more models are added to this thread over time.

  • 1948: Voyager (small car), Wayfarer (large car)
  • 1956: Ferret (junior), Valiant (senior), Nevis (utility), Transtar (van), Shrike (small sports car), Peregrine (large sports car)
  • 1960: Vanguard (full-size luxury car)

1948: Hampton Motor Group debuts, launches Voyager and Wayfarer

The Voyager served as HMG’s entry-level model in the company’s early years. It was very basic, with minimal interior trimmings and simple underpinnings inherited from the original Warwick blueprints to reduce costs. Initially, it was only offered as a four-door sedan, powered by a 35-horsepower 1.0-litre overhead-valve inline-four mated to a two-speed manual gearbox.

For those with bigger budgets, the Wayfarer offered an overhead-valve, 70-horsepower 2.0-litre inline-six in a larger, more spacious body, sharing its chassis layout (albeit lengthened) and two-speed transmission with the Voyager but with a more spacious and upmarket interior. Unlike the Voyager, the Wayfarer was only offered as a four-door sedan.

1952: First Updates for Hampton Range

In 1952, the entire Hampton model range was updated with larger, more powerful engines and new taillights. The Voyager’s base engine now displaced 1.25 litres and made 43 horsepower, and three new body styles (estate, 4-door convertible and 2-door coupe) were added.

In anticipation of the completion of the first motorways, a 1.5-litre version of the Voyager’s overhead-valve engine became optional that same year. Voyagers fitted with this larger engine were distinguished by a chrome strip running down their bonnets.

The Wayfarer also received an optional larger engine as well in the form of a 2.5-litre version of the straight-six, developing 90 horsepower. As with the Voyager, examples fitted with the optional engine also had their bonnets bisected by a chrome strip.

1952 also saw the adoption of automatic transmission (again with two forward speeds) as an optional extra on both the Voyager and Wayfarer. By then, both cars had sold well throughout Europe on account of their affordability and mechanical simplicity, but by 1955, the time had come to replace them both - and seeing that his company could not survive on European sales alone, Toby Hampton also decided to expand into the American market for 1956 with a new range of cars, built using platforms and engines that were designed fully in-house. A new and exciting chapter in the company’s history was about to begin…

Car Company Directory

1956: Hampton Enters U.S. Market

The all-new 1956 Hampton model range, from left to right: Ferret sedan in Petrol Blue, Wayfarer sedan in Marble Red, and Nevis pick-up in Olive Green

In 1956, Hampton began selling cars in North America for the first time. They launched with three completely new cars: the compact, four-cylinder Ferret, the larger six-cylinder Valiant, and a large truck called the Nevis. All of them had all-new unibody construction (with struts up front and a coil-sprung live axle at the rear) and were powered by single-overhead-cam engines, except for the Nevis, which retained a ladder frame and an overhead-valve engine for reliability’s sake.

To distinguish the Valiant from its smaller sibling, Hampton offered it with a premium interior and AM radio as standard, in an effort to appeal to wealthier customers seeking a more upmarket car. This contrasted with the smaller Ferret, which was pitched as a cheaper economy car for those with tighter budgets. Both cars could also be optioned with a two-speed automatic gearbox - an option more popular on the Valiant due to its greater power and upmarket positioning. Also, in a first for the company, all three were fitted with radial tires as standard.

Although the Ferret and Valiant had the same underpinnings, the former used a shrunken version of the latter’s chassis, with a shorter wheelbase. This was a conscious decision undertaken by company CEO Toby Hampton to reduce production costs. Meanwhile, the Ferret’s predecessor, the Voyager, went out of production in 1960, four years after its larger sibling, the Wayfarer had been discontinued in favor of the more modern Valiant. However, even before the new range had come out, Toby secretly harbored a dream - to see a sports car powered by his engines. To realize his dream, he would either have his company develop such a car in-house, or sell the engines to another manufacturer. The story of the Hampton Motor Group would soon take an interesting turn…

Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][RD 3 SUBMISSIONS]

Based on those numbers, I think KATSURO Automotive will be a rival of Hampton. I look forward to the competition!


Other Hampton Models Introduced in 1956

Note: These models were not entered in Round 1 of Generations II, due to either not fitting into any categories or the presence of other vehicles from the same category in the HMG model range.

In addition to the Ferret, Valiant and Nevis, Hampton’s range included a small sports car called the Shrike, and a larger grand tourer called the Peregrine. These two-door coupes differed significantly in mechanical specification and standard equipment. While the Peregrine used an enlarged, 3.2-litre 150-horsepower version of the Valiant’s straight-six and received double wishbone suspension front and rear, the Shrike rode on a shortened Ferret floorpan and made do with a 1.8-litre straight-four developing just 80 horsepower. Moreover, the Peregrine had a premium interior with a higher-grade radio as standard, while the Shrike had a mid-grade radio available as an option. The Peregrine’s larger size also meant that it could be ordered with an optional pair of rear seats, unlike the Shrike.

The sixth model in Hampton’s expanded lineup was the Transtar, a van built on the same platform as the Nevis, but powered by a 1.8-litre overhead-valve straight-four. This bare-bones delivery vehicle was initially sold exclusively to fleets, mainly in Europe and North America. However, some surviving examples have ended up in the hands of private collectors in the decades since the original Transtar debuted.

Left to right: Shrike fixed-head coupe in British Racing Green, Peregrine 2-seater coupe in Admiralty Blue, and Transtar cargo van in Beige

Both of Hampton’s new sports cars attracted plaudits for their performance and handling, while the Transtar turned out to be immensely popular with fleets. However, the cost and rarity of radial tyres forced Hampton to relegate them to the options list across the entire range in 1957, with the exception of the flagship Peregrine. All in all, Toby was pleased with how his new, much larger and more diverse model range was performing commercially - and the company was in good financial shape for the start of the coming decade.


1960: Hampton Expands, Updates Lineup

Above, from left to right: Hampton Peregrine Sprint, Valiant 3.2 Deluxe and Vanguard 3.5.

Much of Hampton’s model range would be updated for 1960. The Peregrine was now powered by a 3.5-litre straight-six, developing 144 horsepower in regular trim or 172 horsepower with the optional Sprint Package, which included a sportier suspension tune and a close-ratio gearbox. The Valiant, meanwhile, was now offered with either a 3.0-litre or 3.2-litre straight-six in place of the earlier 2.8-litre unit - a necessary change in view of the first motorways having opened in 1958, and a Supreme trim line, powered by a 3.5-litre engine, also became available on the sedan and Coupe, while the entry-level Prime trim was retained. However, most significantly of all, there was an all-new flagship four-door luxury sedan, the Vanguard. It’s 3.5-litre straight-six was shared with the Valiant Supreme and the regular Peregrine, and its interior was upholstered in genuine Connolly leather, with real wood accents.

Both the Ferret and Valiant were now available in estate form, but while the former could now be ordered as a convertible, the latter could not; instead, the third body style for the Valiant would be a two-door coupe. However, unlike the Peregrine, the Valiant Coupe was a full four-seater instead of a 2+2. The Ferret’s engine was enlarged to 1.8 litres, and a 3-speed automatic transmission became optional for the first time.

Above, from left to right: Valiant Prime 3.0 Sedan, Valiant Deluxe 3.0 Wagon, and Valiant 3.5 Supreme Coupe at the 1960 Detroit Auto Show. Below, from left to right: Ferret 1.8 in Light Blue, Ferret 1.8 Convertible in Daffodil, and Ferret 1.8 Estate in Crimson.

The Shrike would not be neglected for 1960, either: to offset the weight gain from additional standard equipment, a 2.0-litre version of the Ferret’s straight-four was now standard across the range, which now included a convertible for the first time ever.

Above: Shrike Coupe in Maroon (left) and Shrike Convertible in Imperial Blue (right). Below, from left to right: 1960 Peregrine range - Sprint Coupe in Hampton Green, 2+2 in Black, and Convertible in Bright Red.

Finally, as a bridge between the entry-level Ferret and the more upmarket Valiant trims, the latter was now available in entry-level Prime specification for the first time in North America. This cheaper, decontented trim level had already been on sale in Europe from the outset, with a smaller 2.5-litre engine; however, for the facelift, it received a 3-litre engine, as used in the more upmarket trims.

1956 Valiant Prime 2.5 in Ebony (left) and 1960 Valiant Prime 3.0 in Sterling Silver (right)

From just one model upon its inception in 1948, the Hampton Model Group now had a well over a dozen passenger car variants, plus three utility vehicles (Nevis pickup and wagon, Transtar van) by 1960. This diversity was, quite frankly, necessary in order for the company to cover all bases, especially since the opposition (mainly Continental European makes, along with a few Far Eastern imports and North American motoring giants) was also trying to catch up. Nevertheless, Toby Hampton remained proud of what he had done not just for himself and his company, but also Britain as a whole, along with its people.

Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][RD 3 SUBMISSIONS]

1985: A New Dawn in Frankfurt

Note: Due to the next round of Generations II being delayed by much more than expected, I had to insert this post at short notice instead of one depicting their 1966 lineup. It will, however, be linked to a corresponding post in Generations II when the time comes for me to do so.

After struggling through much of the 1970s, the Hampton Motor Group began to experience an upturn in its fortunes in the early 1980s, thanks to chairman Toby Hampton’s decision to invest in an almost entirely all-new model range, underpinned mostly by a single scalable rear-drive platform with fully independent suspension. To go along with this, he ordered the company’s powertrain department to develop dual-overhead-cam versions of its existing four- and six-cylinder passenger car engines, still with two valves per cylinder, but now with alloy heads for the first time.

The smallest of these cars was the fourth-generation Ferret, powered by either a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, or a range of six-cylinder engines from 2.8 litres to 3.5 litres, mated either to five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.

Above, left to right: Examples of the 1985 Ferret range - 2.2 Prime estate, 3.0 Deluxe, 3.5 Supreme coupe, and 2.8 Deluxe convertible.

For the large executive car segment, a new generation of Valiant would also be introduced, Unlike the Ferret, it was available exclusively with six-cylinder engines, and there was also a Sprint variant, built to homologate the car for Group A touring car racing. This high-performance trim was only available as a coupe or sedan, and a five-speed manual was the only transmission offered. Buyers could even pay extra to make it even more potent with a Performance Pack that included high-performance tires, a more aggressive suspension tune, and a shorter final drive.

Above, from left to right: Examples of the 1985 Valiant range - 2.8 Prime estate, 3.2 Deluxe sedan, 3.0 Deluxe convertible, and 3.5 Sprint coupe with Performance Pack. Below, from left to right: 1985 Valiant 3.5 Supreme coupe and Valiant 3.5 Sprint sedan w/o Performance pack.

The third and largest car to use this new platform was the third-generation Vanguard. With a more luxurious interior, a highly advanced sound system and an improved self-levelling hydro-pneumatic suspension, it stood apart from its smaller derivatives with a greater focus on luxury, and could only be ordered with an automatic transmission for the sake of comfort. As with the Valiant, a Sprint version was available, although it was produced in far more limited numbers than its smaller cousin.

Above: 1985 Vanguard III 3.5 Supreme (left) and Vanguard III 3.2 Deluxe (right). Below: 1985 Vanguard III 3.5 Supreme Coupe (left) and Vanguard III Sprint Coupe (right).

The real headline-grabber, though, was the all-new Peregrine II, reintroduced after a decade-long absence. This reborn icon reverted to the original car’s configuration of a small, light, rear-drive two-seater powered by a six-cylinder engine mated exclusively to a manual transmission, and offered either as a fixed-roof coupe or soft-top convertible. Cleverly tuned double-wishbone suspension at each corner made it one of the best-handling road cars of its time, and it was fairly quick off the mark, thanks to its use of the Valiant Sprint’s highly-tuned engine.

Above: 1985 Peregrine II Coupe (left) and Convertible (right).

Earlier in the year, Hampton’s first front-wheel-drive car, the Fennec, also received a redesign. This wasn’t an all-new car, since it used the same transverse-engined platform of its predecessor, but new powertrains and styling meant that this version would be referred to as the Fennec II. It was now offered in a wider variety of trims than before, including a high-performance, three-door-only Sprint, powered by a 1.8-litre straight-four and aimed at the burgeoning hot hatch market. Lesser Fennecs made do with smaller, less powerful 1.6-litre or 1.7-litre four-cylinder engines, but all of them returned good mileage thanks to a cleverly tuned multi-point fuel injection system being standard across the range, as was the case on their more upmarket cars.

Above: 1985 Fennec II 1.8 Sprint (left) and 1985 Fennec II 1.6 Prime (right)

All 1985 Hampton models, from the Fennec to the Vanguard, also benefited from improved rust protection and build quality compared to their predecessors, and in the case of the Vanguard and the more upmarket Valiant trims, anti-lock brakes, either as standard or as an option. In addition, every car they sold would now come standard with a three-way catalytic converter and run solely on unleaded fuels, no matter where it was sold.

Although these innovations made them more expensive to build and develop, they sold in greater volumes globally compared to their immediate predecessors, more than making up for the company’s initial investment and restoring the brand’s reputation. As a consequence, the Hampton Motor Group enjoyed several years of strong, steady profits, putting the company in a strong position by the early 1990s.

Link to 1985 Hampton Peregrine

Link to 1985 Hampton Valiant

Link to 1985 Hampton Vanguard and Ferret


1966: Hampton Joins the Muscle Car Craze

Back to Generations lore this time after a long hiatus.

Having successfully bought the rights and tooling to a discarded prototype MAD small-block V8, the Hampton Motor Group began searching for suitable platforms into which it could be fitted. Fortunately, the new Valiant II was more than capable of swallowing it up in its engine bay. To this end, Hampton began selling the first-ever Valiant Sprint in the fourth quarter of 1965 as a 1966 model. Displacing 5.0 litres and developing a solid 245 net horsepower, it was capable of sending the flagship Valiant to 60 mph from a standstill in just 7 seconds, thanks to the car’s relatively low weight compared to most other muscle and pony cars.

Above, from left: Ferret II 1.8 sedan, Valiant II 3.0 Prime sedan, Valiant II 5.0 Sprint coupe, and Transtar 2.0 panel van.

Lesser Valiants were once again offered with updated versions of the company’s overhead-cam straight-six or straight-four engines (depending on trim level), and unlike the Sprint (which was coupe-only at launch), they were all available in a wide range of body styles (coupe, saloon, estate, convertible); the smaller and cheaper Ferret, on the other hand, was offered solely with straight-fours, and only as a saloon or estate (at least initially), in keeping with its positioning as Hampton’s entry-level car. Meanwhile, the Transtar saw very few changes for 1966, with the exception of its engine being enlarged to 2.0 litres.

Above: There are few 1960s motoring experiences more memorable than driving a Hampton Peregrine V8 Coupe on a winding mountain road.

Hampton’s flagship, the Peregrine, also received the 5.0-litre V8, but in a slightly more aggressive state of tune, and in this application, it replaced the earlier six-cylinder engines outright instead of supplementing them as they did on the Valiant. Unsurprisingly, it was now much faster than it once was, but Hampton also retuned the suspension accordingly, which meant that it was still as agile in the corners as it had always been. The smaller Shrike, on the other hand, made do with four-cylinder power, but with 120 horsepower from 2.2 litres, it too was more powerful than it had ever been before.

Above: The Valiant 2.2 may have had a more primitive chassis configuration than the Peregrine, but it was cheaper to buy and run, and was also smaller and lighter.

With its model range revitalized by a new engine family and a comprehensive redesign of its core range, the Hampton Motor Group enjoyed another wave of growth, one that would last well into the Seventies - until the first oil crisis forced a reevaluation of the company’s plans.

Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][RD 3 SUBMISSIONS]