First published September 3, 2015 in Old Cars Weekly
1956 SUNBEAM RAPIER AD – By: M. J. Frumkin
The Rootes Group challenged its competition with an “En garde” when it released the Sunbeam Rapier coupe de sport (two-door hardtop) in the mid 1950s.
The Rapier was the newest addition to the famous Sunbeam family, which was known for its craftsmanship and rally champions.
This two-color ad for the Rapier first appeared in the April 30, 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated.
Keeping with the romance of the Rapier name and double-edged sword symbol, an artist conjured up a vision of the 17th century swashbuckler d’Artagnan from The Three Musketeers historical novel by Alexandre Dumas. The gallant figure wields a cape overhead and a lowered rapier to honor the “dash, agility and glamour” of the ‘56 Rapier hardtop.
Promising, “A new THRUST on the highway,” with, “sports-car zoom,” the Rapier was propelled by either a 62-or 67-hp four-cylinder engine of 85 cubic inches mated to a four-speed manual gearbox.
The car was plugged as having “rock-steady” handling at its top speed of 90 mph and being capable of 30 mpg to relieve gas pains.
Along with two-tone styling, “flashing” acceleration, and superb riding comfort, the English vehicle manufacturer made sure to promote Rapier’s low center of gravity, road hugging suspension, extra-large brakes and remarkable visibility that provided maximum safety for the four-seat hardtop.
Some say that if you squint your eyes, the 1956-58 Sunbeam Rapier looks like a nicely customized 1953 Studebaker.
Rootes stance was that, “the long, low lines of the Sunbeam Rapier marked a radical advance in English light hardtop car design.”
In other words, “All for one and one for all.”