Thu, 19th Jul 2018 14:00

The Pavilion Gardens

  Lot 41

1967 Sunbeam Rapier Series V

Sold for £10,350

(including buyers premium)

Lot details
Registration No: PGF775E
Chassis No: B325002058HH0
Mot Expiry: May 2019

- Works Rootes car RAC Registered with FIA in 1966

- Gas flowed head, twin webers, limited slip diff, full roll cage

- Brantz tripmeter

Announced at the London Motor Show of 1955, the Sunbeam Rapier was the first of a new range of Rootes cars that was to include the Hillman Minx and the Singer Gazelle. A complete departure from the Sunbeam MKIII it replaced, it was a modern-looking two-door, four-seater Coupe with such standard equipment as leather trim and overdrive. The bodies were built by Pressed Steel, shipped to 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. Over its twenty-one year reign, the model progressed through five series, the swansong being the Series V derivative introduced in 1965. Though visually almost identical to its predecessor, it was notable for its larger, five-bearing engine of 1725cc capacity. Just 3,759 Series Vs were built, making it the rarest of all versions of the model.

This 1965-built but 1967-registered example has been modified for regularity rallying and comes complete with MSA and FIVA identity cards. The Weber-fed Chris Draycott engine is understood to (a) produce 125bhp and 145lbft of torque and (b) to have covered 8000 miles since it was built. The specially prepared overdrive gearbox drives through a 4.22:1 axle equipped with Griper LSD. The uprated braking system includes internal piping, Aeroquip hoses and a fly-off handbrake. The fuel and electrical systems have both been suitably modified and the remaining impressive specification includes: a pair of speedometers (km is not fitted), Brantz International 2 tripmeter, a pair of stopwatches, Sparco seats, Luke full harness belts, plumbed-in and hand held extinguishers etc. This handy-looking Rapier comes with the aforementioned paperwork and MOT valid into May 2019

The vendor advises that the first owner and custodian until her death in 1987 was the late Betty Leah , nee Haig , grand niece of Field-Marshal the Earl Haig, K.G., G.C.B., O.M. An extract from her obituary in Motorsport magazine in July 1987 is reprodcued here :

"Page 65, July 1987

Obituary: Betty Haig

We are grievously saddened to hear that Betty Haig, great-niece of Field Marshall The Earl Haig, died in an Inverness nursing home on April 31. She became an all-out motoring enthusiast after her early love of horses and hunting, starting (after a Douglas motorcycle) with a 1922 ABC, and going on to own A7s, another ABC, HE, MG, HRG, Frazer Nashes of both kinds, BMW 328 and many others, numbering some 60 cars by the time I interviewed her in 1965.

Betty Haig did well in rallies, winning an Olympic Medal in her first pre-war rally, in Germany, with a 11/2-litre six-cylinder Singer, a car also used for a WASA trial and Brooklands driving. She then won outright the Paris-St Raphael Feminin Rally in her PB MG, and after the war she won the Ladies' Cup and her class in the fantastic 1948 Alpine Trial in an AC. She went on a Monte Carlo Rally in an experimental Morris Minor with Elsie Wisdom and Barbara Marshall, and won the 11/2-litre class in the very tough 1949 Alpine Trial with a works TC MG.

Betty Haig drove her HRG to a class-win in a Swiss hill-climb, changed to a Healey-Silverstone, raced a Cooper-JAP and a vee-twin Cooper 1000, drove the highest placed foreign car, a Triumph TR2, in the 1952 San Remo Rally, raced her AC Ace at Goodwood and Brands Hatch, a Turner in Italy and took Ladies' Cups at Prescott and Shelsley Walsh with a Lotus Eleven. Then there was a TT MG Magnette raced at Goodwood and Silverstone, gaining a Coupe de Vitesse with an Austin-Healey 100 inn later Paris-St Raphael Rally, and breaking the Ladies' record at Prescott in a Lotus 23.

Her road cars included a number of Porsches and, driving to qualifying orders, she and Mme Simon finished halfway down the field, as intended, in a V12 Ferrari at Le Mans in 1951. This reflects Betty Haig's great enthusiasm for cars of all kinds and how they played a major part in her life. I recall how she once enthralled her audience at a Club evening when, without prior warning or notes, she stood in for the absent guest-speaker. Her remarkable story has been told in these pages; which does not make the sad news of her death any easier to bear "

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