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1963 Sunbeam Rapier Series llla
Lot No.: 121
Registration: XWH 530
Chassis Number: B3066819HH0
Engine Number: 10480820D440
Number of cylinders: 4
Year of Manufacture: 1963
Estimate (£): 15,000 - 20,000
Announced at the London Motor Show of 1955, the Sunbeam Rapier was the first of a new range of Rootes cars that was soon to include the Hillman Minx and Singer Gazelle. A complete departure from the Sunbeam MKIII it replaced, it was a modern-looking two-door, four-seat Coupé. Standard equipment included leather trim and overdrive and the cars were finished in a selection of attractive two-tone colour schemes. The bodies were built by Pressed Steel, shipped to coachbuilder Thrupp & Maberly in London for painting and trimming and then moved to the Rootes plant at Ryton-on-Dunsmore for final assembly. Though initially a little underpowered, the Rapier had inherently excellent handling and was quickly adopted for rallying. Indeed the launch of the Series II version took place at the end of the 1958 Monte Carlo Rally in which Peter Harper's Works Rapier had finished fifth overall. The Series III Rapier is generally regarded as the definitive version and was introduced in the September of 1959. Though individually minor, the detail tweaks to the exterior considerably altered its appearance. Inside, the newcomer featured redesigned seats and interior panels, pile carpets, and a walnut fascia. The under bonnet changes included a new aluminium eight-port cylinder head, increased compression ratio, redesigned valves, sportier camshaft and new water-heated inlet manifold, which combined to increase power output to 78bhp.
Over the next few years the tough and reliable Rapier would acquit itself well as a competition car, and in addition to the Series III's success as a front-line rally car for the Rootes Group Competition Department, it achieved many class and some overall wins at 'Club' level particularly at short circuits and sprints. It was inevitable, therefore, that when the Series II Sunbeam Alpine was announced with a 1592cc engine, it wouldn't be long before a similarly powered Rapier appeared. Sure enough, on 20th April 1961, the Series IIIa Rapier was announced.
The delightful Duck-egg Blue and Royal Blue Rapier presented here was originally a rally car having won The Rally of the Tests in 2004 and placing 2nd in 2002 driven/navigated by Robin Eyre-Maunsell & Peter Scott. It was then acquired via Julius Thurgood and raced in early HRDC and U2TC events. During the Spring of 2012 it was prepared by Chris Snowdon Racing for the well known Sussex Solicitor, Harry Sherrard after he received an invitation to race in the St Mary’s Trophy races at the Goodwood Revival Meeting in 2012.
CSR completed a full bare-metal rebuild of the shell, carried out a comprehensive overhaul, developed the suspension, installed a roll cage, and lightened the car where possible. The engine has been fully re-built and developed by Dave Wells' S.H. Engineering, whilst the gearbox is close-ratio with a 'Supaclutch' and a light flywheel done by Allgears. The suspension has been specifically developed by 'Cornering Force' and includes many ingenious ideas and strengthened components.
The St Mary's Trophy is a two-race, two-driver Pro-Am and Harry Sherrard was lucky enough to secure, as a co-driver, the former Formula 1, IndyCar and Le Mans star Derek Daly who made a return to racing for the first time in many years. It was an evocative visit to Goodwood for the 59-year-old, US domiciled Irishman, who after a stellar career in the junior formulae, had his first test in a Formula 1 car at the famous Sussex circuit. The test, in December 1977, was for the Theodore team and came an astonishing 14 months after Daly had won the British Formula Ford festival.
Daly went on to race with distinction in Formula 1 for the Ensign, Tyrrell, Williams and March Grand Prix teams, before moving stateside for the Indy Car series with some success at Le Mans following later.
The pair performed credibly, considering their lack of practice, with Daly finishing 12th in Race 1 and Sherrard bringing the car home in 16th on the Sunday with an overall result of an excellent 12th behind some serious 'peddalers'.
Having been used little over the last few years and coming with an extensive file documenting its development, this little “Rootes Racer” remains very smart and, we understand, drives well. Nicely prepared Rapiers are welcome at any motor-sport gathering and this lovely car with Goodwood and Derek Daly provenance represents fantastic value for a vehicle that may offer the opportunity to compete at Europe's most prestigious events.