Sunbeam Stiletto (1967-1973)

The name Sunbeam has been synonymous in car production since the early 1920’s with a reputation of producing fine quality cars with a sporting pedigree. Well, let’s face it you don’t design and build Britain’s first Grand Prix winner back in 1923 and come away unrecognised. Sadly financial problems ensued due to costly collaborations until the early fifties when the Sunbeam Stiletto once again started to produce sporty little numbers that attracted the public.

By the mid sixties Sunbeam had produced some swift coupes and roadsters which helped re-establish its reputation in the industry, it also produced the Sunbeam Imp as direct competition to BMC’s Mini. One of the many Imp variants that stood out from the crowd was the Sunbeam Stiletto and today remains one of the most desirable with collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The Stiletto had sports car like handling thanks to Sunbeams pedigree, as well as a great looking fastback body shell. It was also very nimble with its 875cc sports engine. Launched at the Paris Motor Show in 1967 the Stiletto had the driveability of the Imp Sport with added desirability from its sleek coupe looks. It also had a complete interior re-style giving it more refinement than its variants.

Today the Sunbeam Stiletto has an enthusiastic following in the UK together with its other derivatives. However, its rarity and good looks gives it best in class at the Sunbeam camp.

SPECIFICATION
Years Produced1967 - 1973
Performance0 - 60mph 16.1sec / Top Speed - 88mph
Power & Torque51bhp / 52Ib ft
Engine875cc / four cylinder / 8 valves
Drive-trainRear engine RWD
TransmissionFour speed manual
Weight711kg
VALUATION SINCE LAUNCH

Sunbeam’s rare Stiletto is reasonably priced at the moment. The difficulty is finding one for sale. As the most desirable Imp derivative the Stiletto will of course continue to increase in value so now maybe a good time to invest. Here’s a look at the market trends over the last five years.

 Launch201020112012201320142015
Concours£813£4,000£4,500£5,000£6,000£7,000£8,000
Excellent£2,000£2,500£3,000£4,000£5,000£6,000
Good£1,500£1,500£2,000£2,500£3,500£5,000
Fair£1,000£1,000£1,500£2,000£2,500£3,000
A BUYERS GUIDE

As mentioned previously the Sunbeam Imp is a rare classic today, and its stylish derivative the Stiletto is even rarer. With this in mind you will need to be thorough with your inspection should you choose to buy one?

Let’s start with the obvious rust problems. The Stiletto body shell is strong but some rust may be present due to the lack of rust proofing from the factory, however it would have to be severe to compromise the cars structure.  Areas to look out for are firstly the bonnet which traps moisture between its two layers, always check the front edge for signs of corrosion as once this gets hold it will quickly spread. Sills will need inspecting as do wheel arches especially the rear. The bottom of the doors suffer, so check firstly for rot and secondly for filler as poor repairs are all too common.

Get underneath the car and check out the floor pan paying particular attention to the area around the suspension. Spring mounting points rust badly and can pierce the bodywork; this of course is bad news.

The all alloy engine needs to be looked after and if properly maintained will be reliable and last. Anti freeze needs to be used at a 50 percent solution as if it’s too weak corrosion could occur. Also ensure coolant levels are at least level with the base of the header tank to avoid overheating.

Do take a test drive and make sure the engine is cold, look out for continuous smoke as this could mean it’s time for an engine rebuild. The Stiletto can suffer with oil leaks due to its alloy engine expanding and contracting, but providing it’s minimal it may just need gaskets replacing. Run through the gears quickly as you accelerate, it should be smooth and precise, and any crunching could be synchro problems.

Electrics are straight forward, just make sure everything works properly. It won’t be difficult to track down parts unlike trim which is difficult to source but can be found more readily on a used basis.

INSURING A Sunbeam Stiletto (1967-1973)

Small classic car, small classic car insurance premiums. It won’t break the bank to insure the UK’s favourite fastback. At Heritage Insurance with 50 years experience behind us, we offer a tailor made package for one or more cars. We include both our in-house agreed value service and salvage retention should the worst happen at no extra cost, and with limited mileage and club members discounts our annual fully Comprehensive policy proves excellent value for money. Here are some typical examples of how little your insurance could be.

  • This quotation is based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 60.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • This quotation is based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 45.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • This quotation is based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 30.

Annual premium – £95.08 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

*NB: All insurance quotes are based on the same criteria: The vehicle being garaged overnight. Accident, claim and conviction free and a limited mileage of 3000 per annum with full use of a main car daily. All quotations are based on an Agreed Value of £5,000. Prices may alter depending on individual criteria. Quote carried out February 2016.

INTERESTING FACT

The Rootes Motor Company famed for the manufacturer of many marques including Sunbeam have widely contributed to Coventry’s commercial success in the car industry. This history is commemorated by the University of Warwick in the naming of Rootes Hall, one of its largest halls of residence, on the main campus site on the outskirts of Coventry.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says

“It is fascinating to take a look back at the car innovations from yester-year and acknowledge that these nostalgic design firsts were of great importance to the future of car production. If it wasn’t for these captivating classics, we wouldn’t be driving the cars of today.”

INSURING A Sunbeam Stiletto (1967-1973)

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