Hi Stuart, whilst reading the last few editions of your great magazine, I couldn’t help but notice that there seems to be one make that has fallen under the radar. Here I am referring to the Sunbeam marque, a division of the Rootes Group.
Being a Sunbeam man, I am referring to the Rapier, having previously owned two Rapiers and an Alpine. Currently I own a 1958 Series II Rapier. The Rapier was launched in 1955 and enjoyed quite an enviable sporting history in various rallies overseas – the Monte Carlo being one.
The Alpine was launched in 1959 – this year is its 60th anniversary. The Alpine did not reach the sporting height as its predecessor the Talbot Alpine did in the hands of Stirling Moss and Sheila van Damme. The Tiger was launched in 1964 and in the hands of the glamorous Rosemary Smith achieved quite a few successes in the rally world.
Currently there are two Tigers raced in Killarney, Cape Town and an Alpine campaigned by a young man on the country’s circuits.
Thanks a lot,
Hi Harry, apologies for neglecting the Sunbeam products over the years. Spurred on by this, you’ll see we have thrown a birthday bash for the Alpine this issue and you had me chasing down what I think was a Rapier in the traffic the other day. I didn’t manage to catch the car but it has me thinking that it is time to do a 1950s British saloon car shootout between the likes of the Rapier, Singer Gazelle, Hillman Minx, Riley One-Point-Five and Wolseley 1500. So I’m on the hunt for cars of this ilk and a stretch of mountain pass that resembles the Monte Carlo Rally where these people carriers shone.
As you mention, there are a few Tigers and an Alpine competing in historic racing here who fly the Sunbeam flag high with impressive results. And the more senior race fans will well remember Dirk Marais in his indecently quick Tiger at the old Kyalami.
Thank you for flicking the switch and turning the lights on for us, Sunbeam will not be forgotten.