During the late Fifties and throughout the Sixties the Sunbeam Rapier was possibly one of the best examples of a medium sized, medium priced sports saloons.

Not only did it look good and perform well, but the Rapier’s credentials were backed up by winning a number of  rally events in the UK and Europe.

Introduced originally in 1955, the Sunbeam Rapier was still selling strongly  going in to the Sixties, with the Series III introduced on 1960.

With badge engineering playing its usual part within the Rootes Group, during its production years, from a mechanical viewpoint the Sunbeam Rapier was almost an exact copy of the Hillman Minx, but with its engine tweaked to give more power.

Power was provided by a Rootes Group standard 1494-cc overhead valve  engine, matched to a pleasant four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the upper three ratios.

The Sunbeam Rapier Mark III was capable of generating an impressive 78 bhp gross at 5,400 rpm.

Featuring  occasional rear seats for two children in comfort  or one “ compact” sized adult,  the two-seat, two-door Sunbeam Rapier was classed by the Rootes Group as a  sports tourer.

With its stylish downswept nose and unbroken waist line rising to prominent but `right-looking' tail fins the Rapier was one of the more exciting cars of the its time.
The Rapier IIIA was a very fast car,capable of reaching a maximum speed of around 100 mph,while, according to reviews,  handling very well at top speed.

The Rapier's handling was mostly attributable to the extreme rigidity of the its body shell, although the car’s steering was often described as “ not the most precise.”  

Sunbeam continued to run with the Rapier during the early Sixties, with a number of updates being made on an annual basis.

The last of the Rapiers, the Series Five was launched in October 1965, almost exactly ten years  after the original Mark I was launched.

With sales starting to flag, to pep things up a little Sunbeam fitted the Rapier V with a much more powerful engine I725cc engine, capable of generating an 85bhp.

Interior and exterior changes were few, the car was slightly larger athough not enough to make the ride any more comfortable for the rear seat passengers.

It didn’t take Rootes too long to realise that the golden years for the Sunbeam Rapier were long gone, with sales for the two years that the Series V was in production were minimal.  

By the end of 1967 the Sunbeam Rapier IIIA was no more.

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