The Humber car company had an illustrious history, being one of the manufacturers who produced horseless carriages in the late 19th century. By World War I, Humber was – the second largest carmaker in Britain and afterwards expanded into commercial vehicle production with the acquisition of Commer.
Hillman was taken over in 1928 but in 1931 Humber itself became a takeover victim as it was swallowed by the Rootes Group.
Still, Humber continued to operate at the smart end of the Rootes spectrum throughout the 1930s, and with the advent of war switched to sturdy staff cars, sturdier armored cars and military utility vehicles. But Humber was ready to resume car production when the war ended and — in keeping with lean times introduced the new four-cylinder Humber Hawk rather than immediately relaunching the six-cylinder Super Snipe.
Despite its name, the Hawk lacked either the grace or speed of a stooping raptor — and had the dubious advantage of being a typical British car of the immediate postwar period. In truth the snazzy name fooled nobody. The new Humber was an old prewar Hillman 14 by any other name, with a lame side valve engine dating back to the early 1930s.
No matter. Rationing and a general shortage of cash ensured that few consumers could afford a new car, but Humber’s reputation for nicely appointed interiors and good build quality ensured that plenty of bureaucrats and businessmen were happy to splash out other people’s cash for this solid four-door saloon with three window lights on each side and a sunshine roof as standard.
The Mk I became the Mk II in 1947, but the only noticeable difference was that the gear lever migrated from the floor to become a column change. By 1948 Humber was able to introduce the Mk Ill, a genuinely fresh model.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1945 (until 1949)
1,944 сс Sidevalve Straight Four
Top speed of 65 mph (105 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Hawk went on to better things after humble beginnings, continuing to evolve as а genuine premium brand within the Rootes stable the last big revamp coming in 1957, with Series I to IVA Hawks continuing until Rootes finally abandoned luxury car production a decade later.