Fastback. Sounds good doesn’t it? I believe every classic car enthusiast dreams of owning a pillarless coupé. Even more so, one which is tagged Fastback.
But let’s be honest, a Sunbeam Rapier Fastback is perhaps not the most sought after of this specie. Still we shouldn’t rule it out just because of that. Here at ViaRETRO we strongly believe that Any Classic is Better than No Classic. There’s no arguing that you get a lot of style for your money with a Sunbeam Rapier Fastback.
The Rapier Fastback was launched in late ’67 as the stylish coupé version of the new Arrow models introduced by the Rootes Group. The styling was rather striking in period, though I’ve always felt it was a real shame that the vast glass greenhouse making up the sloping rear was divided up into three separate pieces of glass, rather than one big wrap-around rear window as on the original design sketches. But even with the rear window being divided by slim pillars, the resemblance with the ’63 Plymouth Barracuda is still quite obvious – even if the designer, Roy Axe, maintained that this was pure coincidence. Regardless they clearly got it right, as the Rapier Fastback stayed in production virtually unchanged right up until ’76, where the model was discontinued with no successor. During that production run a total of 46-odd-thousand were produced including the lower spec Alpine GT and also the range-topping H120.
It wasn’t all style and no substance either. The Rootes 1725cc five-bearing 4-cylinder engine was a well known quantity, and with twin Stromberg 150CD carburettors it managed a very respectable 88hp. Handling was perhaps not the most sporty, but with MacPherson struts at the front (a first for Rootes) and a live rear axle, it was a comfortable place to be while cruising in style. Those who required more could opt for the H120 which in turn gave the owner a Holbay-tuned engine offering 110hp, and of course also a few effective visual enhancements such as the bootlid with a faired-in rear spoiler, black grill, go-faster stripes down the flanks and of course the inevitable wider Rostyle wheels.
The ’74 Rapier in question here is sadly not the rare H120, but the regular Rapier Fastback is still a great looking coupé. The description is painfully lacking as is so often the case with classic car auctions, but the picture of the engine bay clearly shows some modifications, so it’s probably safe to presume that it’ll easily offer H120 performance – and maybe even more. That obviously won’t make it as valuable as an authentic H120, but as long as you are not obsessed with owning a real H120, then this could arguably even play out to your advantage. This Rapier should offer plenty of smiles per mile on a twisty backroad, and will probably sell for less than what a H120 would. The red bodywork, Minilite-style alloys and bullet door mirrors further add to the sporty image of this stylish coupé. As is always the case with any classic car purchase, this Rapier too should be thoroughly inspected in the flesh before purchase. There is no estimate mentioned on Morris Leslie’s auction site, but their advert on www.carandclassic.co.uk has an estimate of £6000 – 7000 for the Rapier. If condition is found to be good, and as long as the bidding doesn’t exceed that estimate too much, then we at ViaRETRO reckon this is a whole lot of stylish pillarless coupé for the money.
Here’s the link to the auction site: http://stock.morrisleslie.com/stock/details?reg=4190163421
If you’re in the market for a cool yet fairly cheap coupé, and have Saturday the 19th of August free to play, then perhaps you should plan a trip to Perth in Scotland. Happy bidding…
With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to firstname.lastname@example.org