Something different today - a movie recommendation! This week the #Docunight project will screen “Iran’s Arrow: The Rise and Fall of Paykan” made by @paykanhunter with filmmaker Sohrab Daryabandari. When the Coventry engineers at the #RootesGroup were designing the “Arrow” cars, the Hillman Hunter, Humber Sceptre, Singer Vogue (the last cars to wear the Humber and Singer badges), and Sunbeam Arrow, they could not have known that the car they produced, designed on a shoestring budget, would still be in production in Tehran almost 50 years later; but that’s what happened. The Arrow cars were imported to the U.S. as Sunbeams from 1967-1970, but aside from the flashy Alpine fastback, the “baby barracuda,” few were sold here. It was different in Iran though, where the car was produced under license by Iran Khodro from Rootes and later from Peugeot after it bought Chrysler Europe (Rootes had been owned by Chrysler since 1967) as the Paykan. The sedan and wagon (but not the coupe) Arrows were joined by a pickup variant similar to one sold in South Africa as the Dodge Husky. Although there had been previous attempts to license-build cars in Iran, the Paykan was the first truly successful one. Reliable, cheap, and simple, the Paykan became a common sight there, like the Fiat 500 in Italy. The Paykan, so easily identifiable and in production so long (’67-’05 for the sedan, 2015 for the pickup), became a part of the fabric of life in Iran and that’s really what this film is about - people telling stories about a car they love. Among those interviewed in the film are a former mechanics, owners, enthusiasts, cultural historians, even Iran Khodro’s ex-CEO. Although I usually present the history of a car here, this film presents the history the car, how and why it was built the way it was, and the lives it has impacted. Screenings are limited, and most take place on Oct. 4 at various universities, to find out more visit bit.ly/2yF78Yy - I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m looking forward to it!
The little Hillman #Husky was intended to give England’s Rootes Group a cheap-to-make small estate and van to rival the Austin A35 and Morris Minor vans. It never unseated the Minor, but it had a spectacular run in the United States, where it was often used as a small urban delivery vehicle, something much smaller and cheaper than Detroit Sedan Deliveries (themselves on their way out in the fifties). #Hillman was quite good at promoting it’s cars in America in the fifties and was, at one time, the number two import behind VW, selling almost 30,000 cars a year at the peak. The Husky was also aimed at families and people who just wanted utility - a full commercial version was sold as the Commer Cob, without windows, but this was rarely seen stateside. Introduced in 1956, the "Audax" (an internal codename) series Minx, and its Singer, Sunbeam, and Commer derivatives, was designed in part by Loewy & Associates, hence its slight resemblance to Bob Bourke's '53 Studebakers. They were practical, good looking, and easy to drive, and were instantly popular. The second series Husky arrived on this platform in 1958, using a detuned version of the Minx's 1390-cc four. "Compacts" from the big three bit into #Minx sales hard in 1960, but aside from the two-door Ford Falcon van and the rarely seen, also imported Ford Anglia van, there were no other cars quite like the Husky, which stayed on sale into 1965. Its dual-use purpose led to a somewhat higher survival rate than that of the Minx sedans. In the sixties, however, some Huskies found a second life as drag racers. The little cars only weighed about 2,000 lbs., and the capacious engine bay could fit a Ford V8 (as it did when the same platform was used for the Sunbeam Tiger), and such a combination was a terror on the strip, much like V8 Ford Anglias. This particular Husky was heavily modified in the early 1980s to accept the drivetrain and running gear of a V8 Chevy Monza, but the only cosmetic giveaway are the Vega/Monza wheels.