After a succession of mergers, the Hawker Siddeley group emerged as the producer of Armstrong Siddeley cars – and when World War II ended one of the first models announced was the slinky two-door, four-seater Hurricane drophead coupe.
The name shamelessly appealed to patriotic feelings generated by the exploits of the group’s wartime Hurricane fighter planes (a companion saloon car was named after the Lancaster bomber).
So the stylish two litre Hurricane 16 appeared in 1945, with the Hurricane 18 following in 1949 – a similar model but fitted with a larger engine. The related Typhoon sports saloon (named after another Hawker fighter plane) was essentially a Hurricane with fixed hard top. The reason Armstrong Siddeley was the first British manufacturer able to resume postwar car production was that the company promised to put the emphasis on exports – and indeed the first two Hurricanes built were sent to America, where they completed an impressive coast-to-coast drive from New York to Los Angeles to generate favorable publicity.
One interesting feature of the Hurricane was the optional Wilson gearbox. This allowed gears to be preselected with a hand lever, and subsequently engaged with a ‘change’ pedal that replaced a conventional clutch. This made for smooth, fast gear changes and versions of this innovative system were used on buses, military vehicles and racing cars produced by other companies.
Just over 2,600 Hurricanes were built, but despite generally robust build quality only a few hundred survive – the chassis did tend to rust where it passed under the rear axle and the Hurricane had yet to acquire classic status when the Ministry of Transport (MOT) road worthiness test was introduced in 1960. Sadly, as time passed plenty of Hurricanes went to the scrapyard – along with many other fine cars that their owners wish they still had today.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1945 (until 1953)
1,991 cc or 2,309 cc Straight Six
Top speed of 70 mph (120 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 29.7 secs (Hurricane 16)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Those driving Hurricanes on today’s roads often use cars with retro-fitted overdrive gearboxes, as the low-geared originals are not ideal for high-speed cruising on dual carriageways and motorways.