The 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier was a British-built two-door hardtop based on the
mid-'50s Hillman Minx sedan platform. It won international laurels in tough
rally competition for its maker, Rootes Group, and this experience showed in
improvements that came thick and fast -- at least by British industry standards.
1961 Sunbeam Rapier Series III hardtop coupe
The Rapier progressed from the twitchy-handling, underpowered, chunky-looking 1956-58 Series I (not recommended as a collectible) to the Series II, introduced for the 1959 model year, which had better styling and a larger engine.
The Series III Rapier brought still-cleaner looks, a polished walnut dash, more horsepower, and standard front disc brakes. Engine displacement and power went up again for the interim Series IIIa of 1962.
The Series IV Rapier received synchromesh for all gears of the standard four-speed manual gearbox. The last Series V Rapier was equipped with a larger five-main-bearing engine, but was not officially imported to the U.S.
Despite its sporty character and fine rally
record, the Rapier was overshadowed both here and overseas by the rakish Alpine
two-seat sports car of the '60s. Nevertheless, the Rapier is an unusual
collectible for British-car fans, one of the few true hardtops from England.
Pluses of the 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
- Great rally heritage
- Nicely trimmed four-seat interior
- Good performance from 1.5/1.6-liter engines
- Hardtop body style
Minuses of the 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
- Rusts out early and easily
- Chunky "transatlantic" styling
of the 1958-1959 Sunbeam Rapier:
Mark II/Mark III: NA
of the 1960 Sunbeam Rapier:
Mark III: 11,643
of the 1961 Sunbeam Rapier:
Production of the 1962-1963 Sunbeam Rapier:
of the 1964-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
NA (estimated total 75,000)
of the 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
Wheelbase, inches: 96.0
Length, inches: 162.5
Weight, pounds: approximately 2,200
Price, new: $2,499/2,649 (hardtop/convertible) U.S.
Engines for the 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
|Type||Size ||Horsepower ||Years |
1390 cc (84.8 cid) ||62-68*||1956-1958|
|ohv I-4||1494 cc (91 cid)||68/78*||1959-1961|
|ohv I-4||1592 cc (97.1 cid)||75-78*||1962-1965|
|ohv I-4||1725 cc (105.2 cid)||85*||1966-1967**|
** Series V not officially offered in U.S.
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