Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ranting Stan's Sunday Drive: Sunbeam Rapier Fastback

The Sunbeam Rapier name had been around for a few years before the release of the sexy looking fastback version in 1967. Based on the Hillman Hunter the Rapier featured the same 1725cc engine with twin Stromberg carbs and contemporary styling that reportedly drew heavily from the "muscle car" look from the States.

Despite it's looks and name, the Rapier Fastback's performance was unsurprisingly modest given it's family saloon underpinnings - even the Holbay tuned H120 version struggling to reach around 105 mph and 0-60 in around 11 seconds.

Even with it's good looks, interior space and comfort, the Rapier was unable to compete with the conceptually similar Ford Capri and production ended in 1976.

Although the design was supposedly influenced by the US, I always thought the Rapier was more Italian in looks - not dissimilar to the Lancia 2000 coupe designed by Pininfarina. It was a car I often hankered over when I was younger, but never got around to owning or driving. The Rapier was just one example of a number of cars of that type that were to appear at that time - saloon derived coupes that had the looks, but not necessarily the performance, designed to broaden the appeal of a range to younger families or single men who wanted something a bit different from the average family saloon.

Back then a range would have a cheaper 2 door version, a slightly more expensive 4 door version and a comparably priced coupe. Nowadays they just call the 2 door a "coupe" and add a few grand onto the price.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had one, Dark Blue with white upholstery and overdrive Not the fastest boat in the harbour but very stylish especially from the rear. I would like to say the rear was all most people got to see of it but with 88 horsepower it wouldn't be true! You didn't miss a lot in the handling department either.
The Plymouth Barracuda looks stole the show every time though.