In the Fifties and Sixties, the Sunbeam Rapier had a distinguished record as a competition car, with Rootes "works" entries on most major rallies of the time, in the hands of people like Peter Harper.
Paddy Hopkirk and Peter Proctor, all stars of the day, who took the car to innumberable class awards as well as some outright wins. Success was not confined to the rally scene, as the Rapier was also a successful racing saloon.
Not surprisingly, competition success at the the highest level, and a reputation as a tough and reliable car, encouraged many amateurs to use the Rapier for their sporting activities, and any British rally of the early Sixties would have included a large number of Rapiers in its entry list. Even today, the Rapier remains a popular rally car, and is used by a number of drivers who look to its enduring reliability to get them through some of the longer and more demanding of the classic rallies taking place today.
For those who would like to try classic rallying for the first time, the Rapier makes and ideal car to tackle some of the smaller and cheaper events.
For example, the Road Rallies run by the Historic Rally Car Register (HRCR) all take place at weekends and offer excellent value for money through being organised by volunteers from local motor clubs and requiring the minimum time off work for most of us.
Most of the rounds planned include a good mixture of daytime, night and full weeekend rallies specially selected to please all tastes. To encourage older cars there is a special award for the best performance in a pre-1960 car, although classes recognise the experience of the driver and the navigatorm which has long been proven to be the most important contributor towards success in road rallies.
Hughes Rally - 3rd June 2007
Organised by the Black Palfrey Motor Club, this was the 4th UK Rally in the HRCR's Clubmans Challenge.
For Nick and I, this was our first event in his well prepared Hillman Avenger and we were not out of place amongst the Porsches, MGs, Minis, Triumphs and Sunbeams entered.
Startig and finishing at the Moat at Wrotham the rally took in 150 miles running on the quiet roads in the Weald of Kent, and consisted of 6 regularities, 8 special tests and a final fantastic tilip section through Mereworth Woods.
Incredibly at the end of the event three cars were tied for top spot with 9m 38secs of penalties, the tie-decider was the first special test and the Mini Cooper of Geoff Twigg and Matt Fowle were declared the winners having been the fastest of the three.
The regular Sunbeam boys all had a good day and finished the event without succumbing to any harm, Robin Shackleton / Ralph Lodge finished 11th (Fastback H120), Gary Steeden / Roy Baker were 25th (Series IIIa Rapier), Peter Kleyn / Gaius Hiscox were 29th (Sunbeam Alpine Sports) and Nick Smith / Tony Beale finshed 33rd (Hillman Avenger).
Honfleur Rally - 17th - 18th March 2007
The weekend of 17 / 18th March saw the first event of 2007 for Classic Rally Tours
The Honfleur Rally was a two day event with a series of regularities and sections around the lanes of France.
42 cars entered the event ranging from Austin Healeys and Porsche 911's to Sunbeam Rapiers
The event was won by Mark and Sue Godfrey in their MGB with Harrisons in their Triumph TR3A in second place. These two with Robin Shackleton and Ralph Lodge not in their usual H120 but in a standard London taxi also took the team prize for 'A Taxi and 2 Sports Cars'.
The taxi was bought on eBay with 317,000 miles on the clock and with Raplh navigating from the back seat finished a very credible 8th overall. It is the first time we are aware of a London taxi competing on this type of event and the pair said their only problem was being flagged down by several Frenchmen on route!
The Sunbeam Rapiers of the Huggets finished 20th and the lovely Series V of Peter Baulch and Martin Male finished 30th.
Other Rootes cars on the event were the Sweetmans in an Alpine, the Haggertys in a Superminx and Lloyd / May in their Tiger.
Tour of Cheshire - 10th March 2007
The Tour of Cheshire is the inaugural round of the HRCR Clubmans Series and organised by the Knutsford Motor Club. It was a challenging event with 12 regularities and 9 special tests. There were 68 starters and amongst these 6 Rootes cars.
This rally is one of the best organised and atteneded with many members of Ecurie Ecosse attending as marshalls so Tony Mason, Russell Brookes, Tony Fall, Roy Filder and others were present.
It was a challenging event and with new tyres on the Rapier we were determined to do well, if you start the year well it always seems easier to keep ahead.
We had our most successful result finishing 3rd overall, Top Expert and we took the team prize in our 'All Bumpers and No Spots Team'. The prizes were presented by Mike Broad, a very successful rally navigator in the 1970;s who often partnered Russell Brookes to many wins in his 'Heat for Hire' sponsored cards.
Other Rootes finishers were 18th, the Powleys Hillman Imp, 24th, Valentine Sunbeam Stilletto, 32nd, the Macintoshs in their lovely Series II Rapier, 37th, Sunbeam Alpine, 40th, the Clarkes in their H120 and 50th a Hiilman Imp Sport.
A special mention to David Clarke who partnered his father in their H120 on his first rally and took the Under 18 Navigators award.
So 3 Rapiers with points for the SROC Championship and a great start to the year