1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier

1961 Sunbeam Rapier Series III hardtop coupe, part of the 1958-1967 Sunbeam Rapier line of collectible cars.
1961 Sunbeam Rapier Series III hardtop coupe

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.

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

Production of the 1958-1959 Sunbeam Rapier:
Mark II/Mark III: NA

Production of the 1960 Sunbeam Rapier:
Mark III: 11,643

Production of the 1961 Sunbeam Rapier:

Production of the 1962-1963 Sunbeam Rapier:

Production of the 1964-1967 Sunbeam Rapier:
NA (estimated total 75,000)

Specifications 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:

ohv I-4 1390 cc (84.8 cid)
62-68* 1956-1958
ohv I-41494 cc (91 cid) 68/78*1959-1961
ohv I-41592 cc (97.1 cid) 75-78*1962-1965
ohv I-41725 cc (105.2 cid) 85*1966-1967**

** Series V not officially offered in U.S.

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