1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT

The 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT was very different than the 1953-1955 Sunbeam Alpine. This four-seat fastback coupe was sold in England as the Rapier. It was based on the chassis and running gear of Rootes Group's answer to the British Ford Cortina, the Hillman Hunter (sold here as the Sunbeam Arrow), and was deadly conventional.

The front suspension of the Alpine GT featured MacPherson struts, coil springs, lower transverse arms, and drag struts. The rear end was simply a live axle tied down by leaf springs.

Powered by the workhorse Rootes four in its 1,725cc size engine, the Alpine GT benefitted from the recent adoption of five (instead of three) main bearings.

In appearance, the Alpine/Rapier resembled a scaled-down Plymouth Barracuda: slightly stubby front end (but with a horizontal bar grille and quad headlamps), pillarless roof, and large backlight (though not one piece as on the American car).

The interior featured nice high-back bucket seats, adequate space for four, a polished-walnut dash with complete instrumentation, center console, floorshift, and full carpeting.

Performance and handling were reasonably good, but construction quality was not the same as Rootes cars of yore. This, plus erratic deliveries caused by worker walk-offs, hurt the car's sales appeal (as it did the Arrow sedan's), and Chrysler began turning more strongly to its new Japanese partner, Mitsubishi, for its "captive imports."

The Rapier continued in England for several more years, however, and was even offered as a hot Holbay-tuned model, the H120. A cheaper Alpine with simplified trim and equipment was also sold in the U.S., but the GT is the one to have.

Pluses of the 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT:

  • A bargain fastback with the respected Sunbeam name
  • Good mileage
  • Adequate performance
  • Nicely furnished

Minuses of the 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT:

  • Unexciting styling
  • Indifferent construction quality
  • Rust-prone
  • Not that numerous in the U.S.
  • Parts scarce outside of England
  • Questionable appreciation potential

Production of the 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT:
5,000 (estimated U.S. sales)

Specifications of the 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT:
Wheelbase, inches: 98.5
Length, inches: 174.5
Weight, pounds: 2,360
Price, new: $2,535 U.S. list

Engines for the 1969-1970 Sunbeam Alpine GT:

ohv I-4 1,725 cc (105.2 cid)
94 1969-1970

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