1964 Sunbeam Rapier Series IV Saloon Registration no. 452 GYU Chassis no. B/3300791/OD/HHO Engine no. B/3300791/OD/HHO
Its styling inspired by Raymond Loewy's Studebakers, an entirely new range of cars was introduced by the Rootes Group in the mid-1950s, the first arrival with this new look being the Sunbeam Rapier. A two-door sports saloon, the latter was announced in 1955, in advance of its Hillman and Singer siblings. Whitewall tyres and a chromed waistband dividing the two-tone colour scheme were obvious transatlantic influences, while the Rapier's pillar-less bodyshell and unique wind-down rear quarter window made for the ultimate in fresh-air motoring this side of a full convertible. Styling changes, mechanical improvements, and larger and more powerful engines were introduced as the Rapier progressed through Series I to V over the next ten years.
The Rapier played an important part in Rootes' competition programme, achieving some notable successes both in circuit races and on the 'rough stuff'. The car was first raced in Series I form in the 1956 Mille Miglia but rallying was its true forte, as demonstrated by an impressive tally of class wins and team awards extending into the 1960s. In 1958 Peter Harper finished 5th in the Monte and won the RAC Rally outright, while Paddy Hopkirk finished in 3rd place on the 1959 Alpine event. The Tour de France was another event in which the Rapier excelled, as exemplified by a commanding 1, 2, 3 class finish in 1962.
The overdrive-equipped Rapier offered here is an example of the Series IV, introduced in October 1963, which featured a more powerful version of the existing 1.5-litre engine and, from October 1964, an all-synchromesh gearbox. Other significant changes included 13" wheels and a diaphragm clutch. Owned by the current vendor for a number of years, '452 GYU' has been used periodically for rallies/shows and has been driven by his wife. Described as in generally good condition, with original interior, the car is offered with sundry bills, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5. A Holbay modified engine is the only notified deviation from factory specification.