I fell in love with the lowly little Imp when I stumbled across one for sale in the online classifieds one evening. I had never heard of a Sunbeam/Hillman Imp. Very, very few ever made it across the Atlantic. I knew of the Sunbeam Alpine and Sunbeam Tigers, this odd vehicle seemed to stand out against the norm for the British auto industry. Being an owner of a quicky, rear engined, rear wheel drive vehicle, the Imp raised my eyebrow.
With anything new to me, I have to do obsessive research. My studies pointed me towards the 1965 Tulip Rally and a Miss Rosemary Smith. A woman driver who was able to win the rally out right in a Hillman Imp. I watched videos of the little car tearing through corners and looking like an absolute blast. I went back to look for the petite automobile that inspired me. By the time I finished my research, It was gone. That should have set the precedent for my search. However, I did not get the message.
The first one that got away was this lovely example of faded red and gold flames. The asking price was only $800. It was idle due to a carburetor issue the owner had no time to sort out. I had enough capital to take on this endeavor. Yet, I floundered on this one. My indecision let this one slip through my fingers. By the time I had told myself to pull the trigger, It was gone. Like a kite let loose in the wind.
By the time this faded blue beauty blipped on my radar, the price had gone up. $1200 was the asking price. The rust was very minor and it was mostly complete. I was parleyed by a missing cylinder head and carburetors. I was not sure how easy it would be to scrounge those parts in the U.S. Again, by the time I had worked everything out in my head, my hesitation allowed another to scoop this one up. I lost again. As such, my search continued.
I stumbled upon this clean example on Bring a Trailer. This time, $3000 was the asking price. This was the best one I had found and I was certainly willing to front the currency. It ran, it drove, but it did not stop. The brake master cylinder had gone. Easy fix for me and as luck would have it, the car currently lived along my daily route to work. I drove past it every day. Tucked away unseen in a garage along the highway. I learned from my past mistakes and called immediately. I thought I had a chance as the advertisement was but a day old. Like water from a spray bottle, I missed. There was already a buyer on their way from Michigan. I thanked the seller and left him my number. I urged him to call me should the buyer back out. I have yet to hear back from him.
I am not a ball player, so three strikes never stopped me. I am still on the hunt for the spunky little Imp. I still come across them, yet none have hit the mark. Some are too corroded, some are too expensive, and some are too incomplete. I still hold out hope. The right one will come along, I just have to remind myself not to falter.