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Sunbeam Rapier and Alpine (1967 - 1976)

Last updated 27 March 2013

Sharp suited styling, H120 version quick and good to drive
Rendered obsolete by the Ford Capri


Although its designer, Roy Axe, will tell you that it was pure coincidence that the Sunbeam Rapier fastback looks similar to the Plymouth Barracuda, the resemblance between the half cousins is striking. Based on the Hillman Hunter, but not sharing a single panel, the Rapier (and its cheaper Alpine sister) were striking-looking cars that were well engineered, handled tidily and, in Holbay tuned H120 form, quick.

It probably would have been a more enduring success had it not been for the massive impact the Ford Capri had on the coupe market - with its arrival came a new youthfulness that the Sunbeam had no answer to. Sadly this model died when Chrysler rationalised the range and killed off the Sunbeam marque. It's overshadowed today by its 1960s forebear, as well as the more glamorous '70s coupes from Ford and Opel - and it's undervalued as a consequence.