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Hampton Motor Group (HMG) [Generations II]


#12

As submitted in that particular challenge, the Talladega GTE had a 219ci V6 - solid for 1974, but the Valiant Supersprint came out two years earlier, and with a 305ci V8 developing 270 net horsepower, the V6 Talladega would unfortunately have struggled to keep up in a straight line. The V8 might have closed the gap somewhat, though.


#13

Sure, but the optional V8 might have made a difference, with the V6 basically being a budget alternative with 2 cylinders cut off, hence the 90 degree layout (totallynotlookingatyouGM).


#14

1977: Hampton Adapts to the Unleaded Age

Left to right: Fennec 1.6i in Bittersweet Vermilion, Valiant III 2.8 Prime in Olive Green, and Nevis II in Sand Beige.

The 1970s would see the most drastic changes to the Hampton lineup since the company’s inception. After the oil crisis, performance was out, while economy, comfort, and safety were in. To that end, the Sprint and SuperSprint trims of the mid-size Valiant were axed with the 1977 redesign, which adopted a sleeker shape and larger bumpers in accordance with new Federal regulations. However, the upmarket Deluxe trim was retained.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the range, Hampton’s entry-level economy car, the Fennec, debuted in 1974 on the company’s first-ever transverse-engined, front-wheel-drive platform, before being updated three years later with a larger engine. This, along with all other Hampton passenger car engines, was fitted with mechanical fuel injection as standard - a company first. Chairman Toby had deemed it a necessity to take full advantage of the reduced emissions brought on by a combination of unleaded fuel and the catalytic converter mandate in the US market.

The Nevis also received a redesign for 1977, but its mechanicals were similar to those of its predecessor: a carbureted 3.2-litre straight-six up front, solid axles front and rear, and a galvanized steel ladder-frame chassis. These simple underpinnings were deliberately chosen to keep purchase and maintenance costs down.


Above: Vanguard MkIII 3.5 (left) and Ferret 2.0 (right).

As part of the wholesale changes to the entire Hampton line-up, the compact Ferret and flagship Vanguard were also redesigned for 1977. The former was available exclusively with mechanical fuel injection as standard in the U.S. market, with engines displacing up to 2.0 litres, and slotted in between the entry-level Fennec and mid-size Valiant. The Vanguard lost its V8 option, and in its place was a fuel-injected version of the long-serving Hampton straight-six, developing 150 horsepower.

In short, Hampton’s focus on efficiency and safety - two of the most important selling points in the US market in the immediate aftermath of the oil crisis - left it in better shape than many other British car manufacturers. However, this meant that the much-loved but aging Shrike and Peregrine also had to be discontinued after two decades of continuous production. This would have left Hampton without a true sports car (or any high-performance cars, for that matter) in its lineup for the first time since 1955, if it were not for a last-minute decision to use the Valiant platform for the basis of a new sports coupe, called the Harpy. Performance would eventually return to pre-crisis levels, but not until long after the oil crisis had ended.

Even more worryingly for enthusiasts, 1977 also saw the axing of the original Hampton V8 engine. Chairman Toby, after seeing sales of his V8-powered cars fall off a cliff in the aftermath of the first oil crisis, realized that he had to take drastic action just to save his company - and the V8 line was the first to go. Hampton as a whole would not have a V8 in its lineup for well over a decade afterwards. It would return during the 1990s - and this time it would be developed entirely in-house - but that is a story for another post.

Postscript: A Rude Awakening and a New Transtar

The earliest examples of the 1977 Nevis II were powered by a carbureted straight-six due to cost-cutting measures imposed after the fuel crisis. However, this resulted in an unusually unreliable car, and this engine was replaced by a fuel-injected version from late 1977. The resulting Nevis II 3.2i fixed its predecessor’s Achilles’ heel, and was more efficient to boot. In fact, all carbureted examples were re-engined with the new fuel-injected powerplant shortly after the 3.2i was released to the market.

In addition to this, Hampton also redesigned the Transtar for 1977. Still built on a separate chassis with solid axles front and rear, it now had a more angular body, and shared its 2.2-liter inline-four with the Valiant III. This new van was not an off-road machine in the vein of the Nevis II, but a work van primarily intended for use on tarmac.

Above: Nevis 3.2i (left) and Transtar 2.2i (right)

Along with these two, Hampton also launched a smaller, cheaper truck based on a shrunken version of the Nevis platform - the Fairlie. Despite only having 70 horsepower from its fuel-injected inline-four, its light weight, off-road suspension and tires, closely spaced gearing, and a permanent 4x4 system borrowed from the Nevis made it very suited to rock crawling.

The botched launch of the Nevis II marked the first time that Hampton rushed a product to market in an attempt to beat its rivals to the punch - but after seeing this plan backfire spectacularly, Chairman Toby did everything he could in his power to make sure it would be the last, by decreeing that no vehicle or its powertrain should be launched unless it has been properly tested in all conditions. This was an essential part of his “Quality Improvement Plan”, as he called it, and ensured that the next generation of Hamptons would be better built than their predecessors.


Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][FINAL SCORES]
#15

1981: New Decade, New Horizons

Above, from left: Hampton Fennec 1.6i 3-door, Hampton Harpy 3.5 GTS, and Hampton Vanguard III Elite LWB sedan.

Most of Hampton’s passenger car line-up would receive minor mechanical and trim updates for 1981, including the compact Fennec, full-sized Vanguard and Harpy sports coupe. The latter had actually been introduced in 1977, with seating for two or four occupants, and unlike the Peregrine it replaced, it was exclusively available as a fixed-roof coupe. Despite sharing its platform with other RWD Hampton models, it was better to drive than expected, thanks to well-tuned 4-wheel independent suspension. However, it was not until 1981 that the Harpy really came of age, with the release of the high-performance GTS model. Its engine now developed 190 horsepower, which made it competitive against other contemporary sports cars, and unlike lesser Harpies, it was available exclusively with a manual transmission, while a mechanical LSD was also standard - a first for the company. Visually, the GTS was distinguished from its lesser brethren by a hood bulge, front air dam, rear spoiler, and pop-up headlights, the last of which became standard on all Harpies from 1982 onwards.

The flagship Vanguard range had been expanded in 1977 with its latest redesign. Three body styles were available: short-wheelbase sedan, long-wheelbase sedan, and short-wheelbase coupe. Hydropneumatic suspension was standard on the long-wheelbase model and optional on all short-wheelbase cars. Yet even without it, all Vanguards benefited from a comfortable ride and a highly luxurious interior. By 1981, it had earned a reputation for being Hampton’s most opulent offering to date.

Above, from left: Some short-wheelbase Vanguard variants - 1977 sedan (red), 1977 coupe (green), and 1981 sedan (silver).

The Ferret also received a redesign in 1977, but was updated slightly in 1981 to keep it fresh, especially against foreign competition.

Above: A facelifted 1981 Ferret cruising through the Scottish Highlands just after dawn. Below: A pre-facelift 1977 Ferret next to an early long-wheelbase 1977 Vanguard.

Even though the Hampton Motor Group had been plagued by inconsistency throughout the 1970s, it was still in better shape financially than most other British automakers. As a reward, a limited run of 1500 30th Anniversary Harpies was produced in 1978, all painted bright yellow; this was followed up by another 1500 35th Anniversary Harpies, all finished in black. Chairman Toby even received a Harpy as a 60th birthday present, and used it as a test bed for mechanical and styling upgrades that would appear on the GTS model.

Above: 1978 30th Anniversary Harpy (left) and 1983 35th Anniversary Harpy (right).

With so much of its range being updated for 1981, the Hampton Motor Group was ready to confront the challenges and excitement of the new decade - and it had to, given that foreign competitors had not stood still either. But Chairman Toby had seen them coming, and having recently implemented a raft of new quality control and testing policies, he would now lead his company through what would turn out to be a prosperous decade.


Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][FINAL SCORES]
#16

1987: The Hampton Renaissance Continues

Click here for more information about the 1987 Hampton model range

The 1980s were generally kind to the Hampton Motor Group as a whole. By 1987, most of their newly revamped model range was not only selling like hotcakes, but was so well-received by critics that public opinion of the brand had significantly improved compared to a decade earlier. That year, the Transliner people mover joined the line-up. Available with four to eight seats depending on configuration, it took the company into what was, up until then, uncharted territory. Meanwhile, a 2.8-liter engine became optional on the Ferret for the first time.

As for the Nevis, it received a new body and electronic fuel injection as part of its second redesign, with the latter finally being standard equipment on the entry-level Fennec. Advanced safety systems would also be offered across the whole range, either as standard or as an option. This was inevitable given the fact that the Hampton Motor Group was under immense legislative pressure at the time. Ultimately, however, their investment in these new technologies would pay off; by 1988, when the company celebrated its 40th anniversary, Hampton was more profitable than it had been in any prior year up to that point.


Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][FINAL SCORES]
#17

1991: Hampton Enters the Modern Era

The early 1990s saw the most drastic changes to the Hampton lineup as a whole. Most of their range was powered by an all-new range of all-alloy engines with multi-point EFI, four-valve dual-overhead-cam heads, and variable intake valve timing, making them the most advanced and efficient engines the company had made up to that point. In addition, many of their models were either completely redesigned or significantly updated during this time. Their range for 1991 included the following vehicles:

Fennec III - Hampton’s entry-level hatchback, with subcompact dimensions and good fuel economy making it an ideal fit for urban driving. Its curvaceous, cheerful styling was in complete contrast to the boxy, angular lines of its predecessor.

1991 Fennec range, from left to right: 1.6 Essence 5-door, 1.8 Prime 3-door, and 2.0 Prime 3-door.

Ferret - Revised for 1991 with a minor front- and rear-end facelift. All-alloy HE6 (High Efficiency 6-cylinder) range of straight-six engines are the only powertrain options available in the US market as the Ferret moves upmarket.

1991 Ferret range, from left to right: 2.8 Prime sedan, 2.8 Prime wagon, 3.0 Deluxe convertible, and 3.2 Supreme coupe.

Valiant Mk. V - Now available only as a 4-door sedan or 5-door estate, the Valiant is built on an all-new platform with a double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear end - the first Hampton ever with such an advanced setup.

1991 Valiant range, from left to right: 2.8 Prime sedan, 2.8 Prime estate, 3.0 Deluxe sedan, and 4.5 Supreme sedan.

Vanguard Mk.V - The most luxurious and prestigious mainstream car Hampton has made to date, built on a long-wheelbase version of the Mk.V Valiant platform. Air suspension is optional on the 4.5 V8 Supreme and standard on the 6.0 V12 Elite; however, both models come with adaptive dampers as standard.

1991 Vanguard range, from left to right: 4.5 V8 Supreme, 6.0 V12 Elite.

Venator - This flagship 2-door grand tourer effectively replaced the Valiant and Vanguard Coupes, and was offered as a coupe or convertible. It shared its engines and air suspension with the fifth-generation Vanguard.

1991 Venator range, left to right: 4.5 V8 convertible, 4.5 V8 coupe, 6.0 V12 convertible, 6.0 V12 coupe.

Transliner - Updated for 1991 with a mild exterior facelift and a more powerful 2.0L 16-valve straight-four as the standard engine.

1991 Transliner showing its revised front end.

Braemar - Built on an adapted Nevis III platform, and powered by all-iron, single-overhead-cam, 12-valve versions of Hampton’s straight-six - the HD6 (Heavy-Duty Six-Cylinder). 4x4 with manually locking differentials are standard across the board, as they are on the Nevis.

1991 Braemar range, from left to right: Braemar 4x4 2.8 and Braemar 4x4 3.2.

Nevis III - Also powered by the Hampton HD4 straight-six, this facelifted version boasted improved performance and efficiency.

1991 Nevis III 2.8 (left) and 3.2 (right) - the other workhorses of the Hampton range.

Transtar - Updated to Series II specification for 1991, and now powered by the HD4 (Heavy-Duty 4-cylinder) engine, in addition to being facelifted, but otherwise mostly unchanged. The Transtar remains the workhorse van of the Hampton lineup, as it has always been since its introduction in 1956.

1991 Hampton Transtar 2.2 Series II making a delivery run through the desert.

This large-scale modernization of the entire Hampton range cost the company billions of pounds to implement - but the newly promoted Chairman Tony was confident that he could recoup his investment within a reasonable time frame, as were his colleagues. By 1991 the core range was mostly sorted out - but Chairman Toby had bigger ambitions in mind as well. The Group A racing program was gone by then; however, a complete absence of performance models would not be tolerated, and to that end, Toby wanted a range of dedicated sports cars to join the range, from the affordable end of the performance car spectrum to the rarefied air of exotica. It would not be until the following year that they would be launched, though, but Toby assured his customers that they would all be worth the wait.


Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][FINAL SCORES]
#18

What happened to wayfarer, harpy, and transtar?


#19

The Wayfarer was one of Hampton’s first cars, alongside the Voyager, and was only produced from 1948 to 1956. The Harpy, meanwhile, was only produced from 1977 (when it was introduced as a replacement for the original Peregrine) to 1985, when the Peregrine II took its place. As for the Transtar, I will update my most recent post as soon as I can to feature a revised version of it.

And regarding the company’s plans to have at least one new sports or performance car on sale by 1992: I had originally intended for this to occur around 1994/5, but eventually decided that Hampton could do so a few years earlier, to better fit existing lore.


#20

Shouldn’t transtar have I6 and deisel-spec engines?


#21

Operating costs were a key priority for Hampton, so an I6 option was not considered, as had been the case in the past. Nor do I know how to simulate a diesel engine in Automation. The I4 in the facelifted version does provide improved economy and performance, though.


#22

High quality deisel spec requires the following:

  • more stroke than bore
  • redline no higher than 4000RPM (preferably under 3750RPM)
  • high-ish compresion
  • Highest possible cam profile without losing torque

You know you have a good deisel spec when there is at least 75 more lb-ft than hp (use a nm to lb-ft converter for the complete nm output, not 75lb-ft to nm if needed)


#23

option 2) change the game settings
option 3) divide Nm by 1.3558319
converters are for the weak!


#24

AYE AINT NEVER NOT GIVEN UP ME CUBES N POUNDED FOOTS!!


#25

1991 Reorganization: The Three Branches of HMG

By 1991, the Hampton Motor Group had been reorganized into the following three major departments:

Hampton Motor Cars Ltd. - The original car-making and design arm of the company, established in 1948. Has resisted any foreign ownership to this day against all odds, despite some rough periods in the past. In 1991, it moved out of its original premises to an all-new, thoroughly modern factory a few miles down the road, and it has remained there ever since - although the new factory has been expanded and retooled several times in the past 30 years.

Hampton Performance & Racing - The high-performance division of the company, set up by former racing driver Darren Roberts as Roberts Performance Motors in 1978, originally to assist in developing the Harpy GTS and later the Valiant Sprint. In 1987, Hampton would purchase a majority stake in RPM, and by 1990, it was taken in-house and rebranded Hampton Performance & Racing.

Hampton Commercial Vehicles - Founded in 1963 to handle development and marketing of fleet vehicles such as the Nevis and Transtar. After the former became more popular with private buyers, it transitioned to selling fleet and off-road accessories for these vehicles.

The following year saw the introduction of the HPR range of performance cars for the first time, details of which will be given in a future post.


#26

Just don’t use HPE(horpower) for nomeclature-


#27

No need for you to complain; I just renamed HPE to HPR, short for Hampton Performance and Racing, but it still serves the same purpose as before.


#28

Okay.


#29

1992: Hampton Performance & Racing Debuts With A Bang

Note: This post required a rewrite of Hampton Motor Group’s company lore due to having to better relate the cars shown in this post to those shown previously. As such, the previous (front-engined) rendition of the Vulture is non-canon, and the flagship sports car, the Harrier, is now called the Hawk; both of their debuts have been moved forward to 1992 in the new timeline.

Clockwise from top left: 1992 Hampton Performance & Racing lineup - Vulture 1.8, Valiant MkV 5.0 Sprint, Vulture 2.0 Sprint with Aero Pack, Fennec III 1.8 Sprint, and Hawk 5.0.

Hampton Performance & Racing’s first-ever batch of new cars was several years in the making, but when it finally debuted for the 1992 model year, it proved to be well worth the wait. Initially, their lineup was as follows:

  • Fennec Sprint - Powered by a 140bhp 1.8-litre naturally aspirated inline-four, this hot hatch was renowned for its nippy handling and surprising acceleration, thanks to its light weight and HPR-fettled chassis. At a time when the hot hatch sector was falling out of favour due to rising insurance rates, this was most definitely a bright spot. All Fennec Sprints were available exclusively with a 5-speed manual transmission, unlike lesser Fennecs, which could be ordered with a 4-speed automatic transmission as an option.

  • Vulture Mk1 - The first mid-engined car in Hampton’s history, this affordable 2-seat sports coupe was available with either the Fennec Sprint’s 1.8-litre engine, or, in Sprint guise, a larger 2.0-litre version of said engine delivering a formidable 190 horsepower. The latter trim could be fitted with an Aero Pack, which included front and rear spoilers; however, as with the Fennec Sprint, both versions of the Vulture Mk1 earned plaudits for their razor-sharp dynamics, again due to their light weight, although with two seats and less luggage space, it was not as practical. To set it apart from the Fennec Sprint, the Vulture Sprint came with a limited-slip differential as standard.

  • Valiant 5.0 Sprint - This was the first version of the Valiant Sprint since the original to be powered by a V8 engine. In this case, it was a 5.0-litre version of the HE8 (High Efficiency 8-Cylinder) engine used in Hampton’s more upmarket models, with a longer stroke and forged internals. The result was a heady 355 bhp and 330 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels via a reinforced 5-speed manual gearbox - but in a package with seating for five and all the creature comforts of lesser Valiants. And thanks to HPR’s handling wizardry, it turned and stopped as well as (if not better than) it went.

  • Hawk GT 5.0 - Replacing the Peregrine II in the Hampton lineup, this was a more upmarket machine than its predecessor, and it showed. Sharing its engine with the contemporary Valiant Sprint, it was developed in response to rumors that Katsuro, one of Hampton’s chief competitors, was developing its own flagship sports car. Less weight (~1290 kg) and better aero than the Valiant Sprint ensured that it could reach a scorching 180 mph and get to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds, making it the fastest Hampton ever at the time of its launch. To complement all that grunt, it had specially tuned 4-wheel independent suspension (dual wishbones at the front, with a multi-link setup in the rear), 17-inch alloy wheels shod in staggered high-performance tires, and large vented disc brakes at each corner. The result was Hampton’s first true supercar - one that could go toe-to-toe with the best the rest of the world had to offer.

While the Vulture and Fennec were aimed at budget-conscious enthusiasts, the Hawk and Valiant competed in the more exclusive premium performance sector. The new range was an unqualified success from day one - but there would be more to come from Hampton’s high-performance skunk works in the years that followed.


#30

I may have something up my sleeve to take on that Fennec Sprint. Stay tuned!


#31

1995/96 Hampton Model Range Changes

The changes for the Hampton Motor Group line-up for 1995/96 were as follows:

  • Fennec: 1.6i Essence now has 90 bhp. 1.8i Prime now has 110 bhp. Sprint has 150 bhp and gains optional viscous LSD. Variable intake and exhaust valve timing are standard on all engines. CD player is optional from Prime upwards. Driver’s side airbag is now standard on all trims.

  • Ferret: Fully redesigned for 1996 on all-new platform. 2.5i Prime, 3.0i Deluxe and 3.2 Supreme have 140, 180 and 225 bhp respectively, with the latter two trims also having premium interiors and audio systems as standard. Supreme spec retains Performance Pack (which includes performance tires and viscous LSD) as optional feature. All trims can now be ordered with optional 5-speed automatic. CD player, passenger airbag and traction control are all optional on Prime, standard on Deluxe and Supreme. Driver’s airbag is standard on all trims. Performance tires are optional on Supreme.

  • Valiant: Base engine is now 180-bhp 3.0L I6; 225-bhp 3.2L I6 is optional. Mid-spec 4.5L V8 now makes 275 bhp from 1996. 1995 SuperSprint now has 375 bhp. 5-speed automatic transmission is standard on all trims except SuperSprint, which is now 6-speed manual only. CD player is now standard on all trim levels.

  • Vanguard: V12 boosted to 360 bhp in 1995. 275-bhp 4.5L V8 becomes base engine from 1996 onwards. Standard transmission is now a 5-speed automatic. CD player is standard on all trim levels.

  • Venator: Same as for Vanguard.

  • Braemar: 2.8L and 3.2L I6 engines develop 130 and 165 bhp respectively. Optional automatic transmission is now a 5-speed automatic. CD player is optional on all trims. Driver’s side airbag is now standard. Passenger’s side airbag is now optional. Deluxe trim (which adds dual airbags, alloy wheels, CD player and premium interior) is added to Braemar 3.2 4x4 only.

  • Nevis: Same as for Braemar, except Deluxe trim is not available.

  • Vulture: From 1996, base model now has 150 bhp. Sprint is renamed SuperSprint and now has 200 horsepower plus 6-speed manual gearbox. Performance Pack (larger alloy wheels, high-performance tires and viscous LSD) and Aero Pack (front and rear lip spoilers) are optional on base model for the first time. CD player is optional on base model, standard on Sprint. Driver’s side airbag is now standard.

  • Hawk: GT model is now called GTS, with 375 bhp and six-speed manual gearbox. Standard wheels are now 18-inch forged items. CD player is now standard equipment.

  • Transliner: Redesigned for 1996 with new body and platform incorporating multilink rear suspension. 5 seats standard, 7 or 8 seats optional. Standard engine is 110-bhp 1.8L I4 mated to 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. ABS becomes standard for the first time. CD player becomes an option for the first time.

  • Transtar: Re-engined for 1996 with the same 1.8L HE4 I4 as used in the Fennec, thereby reducing emissions and fuel consumption.

Above from top: A series of images from a 1992 issue of Straight 6 Magazine’s 1992 Sports Car Clash, titled “Battle of the Nations” depicting the Hampton Hawk GTS competing against the TDF SS38iS and Katsuro Vatina. It was this article that really put Hampton Performance & Racing on the map, especially among the enthusiast set.

All these changes meant that Hampton was offering the widest variety of cars in its history to date. However, I have deliberately left out one very special model - it deserves a post all to itself.


Generations II: The Full Line Challenge [LORE][FINAL SCORES]