Car Of The Month Archive 2017
1959 Star Sapphire SUX404 - February
The Star Sapphire was the last model produced by Armstrong Siddeley Motors and roughly 900 left the factory between 1959 and 1960. The "Star" was a development of the immensely popular Sapphire and in fact the prototype was a modified Sapphire. This prototype was driven up and down the newly opened M1 motorway for many weeks to ensure that the modifications had produced a car capable of handling the latest high speed driving (there was no speed limit on motorways in those days). Indeed with its 4-litre engine, power steering, automatic gearbox and disc brakes the designers had truly produced a "Star" that was an excellent motorway cruiser and also, due to its torque at low revs, a docile and yet powerful town car.
These facts have ensured that there is a higher than average percentage of cars still surviving today as the car is well capable of coping with modern traffic conditions. This particular model is currently on its third owner in its 58-year life having had a recent sympathetic restoration. It can be seen regularly at club and other events in the South of England.
1956 Sapphire 346 Hearse - January
Throughout the 40-odd years that Armstrong Siddeley Cars were in production, the factory supplied many rolling chassis to specialist coach builders who produced various utility bodies such as ambulances, fire engines, special pick-ups, shooting brakes and of course hearses. Many of these vehicles had a hard working life and not many survive. Hearses however usually have had a more sedate life and this club is aware of at least two Sapphire 346 examples that have survived and which have been recently restored. They are both in current use today doing what they were designed to do, one in UK and the other in Australia.
This particular model left the factory in 1956 and started life with a funeral director in Ireland. It was recently tracked down by a club member from Cheshire who wanted an original hearse to join his funeral fleet of Sapphire 346 limousines. He found the car in Ireland in a totally derelict condition but it had only covered less than 30,000 miles. He then set about the mammoth task of a complete chassis-up rebuild. The result is a beautiful car which now forms the flagship of his classic funeral fleet and is in great demand as the final transport for many classic car enthusiasts!