The Sunbeam Imp Sport is a four-seater saloon produced from 1966 to 1976.
The Imp Sport shared the independent suspension and two-door body of its Hillman counterpart but with the addition of servo-assisted drum brakes, twin Stromberg carburettors in place of the Solex, a new cylinder head, an oil cooler and a higher-lift camshaft.
The Sunbeam Imp Sport was launched in October 1966 and was the cheaper alternative to the Singer Chamois Sport, sharing the same engine but with a less elaborate interior. As compared with the Hillman, the Sunbeam could be identified via its slatted engine cover and its 100mph speedometer; its actual top speed was nearly 90mph and the 0-60 run was a 17.7-second jaunt. Reclining front seats were also part of the package and the price was £665 9s 4d - £65 more than the Mini Cooper. Autocar found the Sunbeam to be ‘one of the most pleasing small cars on the road today’ while Car magazine thought the Imp scored ‘hands down for looks finish and above all comfort’ in comparison with its BMC rival.
In 1968 the Sunbeam Imp Sport was fitted with new – and less aesthetically pleasing – instrumentation and cheaper interior trim with fixed front seat backrests. In April 1970 it was re-badged as the ‘Sunbeam Sport’, gaining four headlamps and more comfortable seating in October of that year. Production ceased in March 1976. The Sport was sold in Australia and New Zealand as the ‘Hillman Imp GT’.
Power for the Sunbeam was from an 875cc OHC engine with synchromesh on all four forward gears. With all of the delights of the Hillman Imp, plus very welcome extra performance, the Sunbeam should have been a considerable success for Rootes but only 10,336 were ever made. It deserves to be far better remembered.
When buying a Sunbeam Imp Sport, check the outer and inner sills, the front suspension mounts and the front valance for corrosion. If the seals have failed in the servo-assisted brakes, this can be expensive to repair.
The Sunbeam Imp Sport may lack the dynamic visual appeal of the Stiletto coupe but has the same performance and is more practical for carrying passengers – in addition to being equally enjoyable to drive.
The Sunbeam Imp Sport competed against the Mini Cooper in Mk.1 and Mk.2 forms, the Mini 1275GT, the Fiat 850S, the NSU TTS, the Renault 8S and the Simca 1000 Special.
|Year||Make||Model||Submodel||Body Type||Average value|
|1967||Sunbeam||Imp||Sport||2dr Saloon||£ 2,800 4,500 7,400 9,100|
|1967||Sunbeam||Imp||Stiletto||2dr Saloon||£ 3,200 4,700 8,000 9,900|