Home WORLD Sunbeam Rapier MkIII Underrated Sporting 60s Classic Saloon

Sunbeam Rapier MkIII Underrated Sporting 60s Classic Saloon


The name ‘Rapier’ was used under two guises, from the mid 50s until the mid 70s, first as the ‘Series’ Cars of which this fits and then from the mid/late 60s as part of the Arrow cars range. The car, if you’ve never seen one before, is a fair size is 13ft, 6 and a half inches long and 5ft and half an inch wide. In modern money that’s roughly about 4.1 metres by 1.5 metres. Good things never last for long and after being introduced in the autumn of 1959, the car was replaced by the Series 3a in 1961.

source.image: idriveaclassic

The 1500 engine was giving 73 bhp and a whopping top speed of over 90 miles per hour. To give that some context, motorways had only just begun to appear at the end of the 50s so for the vast majority of owners, this power essentially gave them exhilarating performance far surpassing what was needed for Britain’s network of windy small roads.

Interestingly, they made some clever changes to the engine including fitting an 8 port ally head with increased compression ratio, a new sportier camshaft was fitted and redesigned valves.


The gearbox also benefitted from some tweaks and the changes made gave higher ratios on second, third and fourth gear with reduced angle of gear lever movement. This meant shorter lever travel and snappier changes – which you’ll see on our test drive really counts – even at lower, slower speeds – but was probably enormously beneficial when rallying or racing.