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Homepage. This page: Peter's motoring memories continue, starting with a Minx, via an Alpine, and then to a Ginetta.

A Hillman Minx starts the ball rolling.

Peter's previous article looked at the Series 2 Minor he once owned. Here he continues his motoring memories, by looking at the Rootes Group cars he went on to own. Part of the Motoring Memories section of the site.

Arrival of the Hillman Minx.

As a boy I'd been impressed by the exploits of Raymond Baxter and Peter Harper driving Sunbeam Rapiers in the Monte Carlo Rally and whilst Rapiers were outwith my teenage apprentice's budget I found I could afford a Minx.
Peter's Series 2 Hillman Minx
"When I wrote about my Series II Morris Minor I signed off saying that I thought I'd paid 80 for the Series II Hillman Minx that replaced it but that must have been the rose coloured specs as having now found the receipt I see it was 95 but none the less the Minx was a delight to drive after the Minor. The Minx was bought in March 1968 having had the Minor for just over a year. The TPFT insurance premium was 19 / year inspite of being in my mother's name with me a named driver.
I think the Minor had a 0-50 time of 25 seconds and a top speed of 62 mph. The Minx was quoted in The Motor to reach 50 in 16 secs and was about 20 mph faster in top speed. The Minx had a column change which was actually quite light and slick but your's truly was more impressed by the nice little short floor change in father's Hillman Husky so a gearbox top cover was obtained from a local scrapyard. The donor car had been burnt out and the alloy casting of the top cover had got a bit out of shape in the heat but after a bit of fettling this worked well on the Minx.
Always with an eye on the next rung up the ladder I came across a Series I Rapier in a scrapyard and bought the overdrive gearbox and propshaft for the Minx. The overdrive was a bit clapped and its cone clutch tended to slip, especially when used in third gear but it was very nice to get 19 mph/1000 rpm instead of the 15.2 with direct top.
Peter's Sunbeam Rapier from 1960
1960 Sunbeam Rapier
I kept the Minx almost exactly two years at which point I spotted an ad. in the local paper for a 1960 Series III Rapier. If the Minx seemed great when I bought it the Rapier was even better and it only cost 50. For a 10 year old car it was in pretty good condition and the seats appeared to have been protected for most of their life by plastic seat covers which revealed an almost new interior once discarded.

The Rapier also had overdrive and a much nicer set of gearbox ratios to boot. The performance leap of Rapier over Minx was almost as dramatic as that of the Minx over the Minor. The 0-60 time had now dropped from 25 seconds in the Minx to 16 in the Rapier and top speed was a further 10 mph higher.

Up until this time all the cars that I had driven were on crossply tyres but the Rapier was on Michelin Xs. They were near end of life and I wasn't initially impressed but shortly after me buying my Rapier my cousin Ken also bought one and we fitted it with a much newer set of Michelin Xs that we bought in a scrapyard.

Well, Ken then proceeded to scare the pants off me when he demonstrated that it would now go through a little chicane, that we used as a test, about 10 mph faster than on crossplies. After that I was a total convert and we both went on to further improvements with stiffer anti-roll bars.

We got a lot of fun out of the Rapiers but after earning some money I came across the next progression, a 1964 Sunbeam Alpine. [Larger photographs of Peter's Rapier feature here in the motoring photographs section]
Peter's 1964 Sunbeam Alpine
1964 Sunbeam Alpine.
I was quite sorry to say goodbye to the Rapier and whilst nice to drive, the Alpine that I bought was a real rust bucket by comparison. I bought it from a guy who loved fibreglass and had completely covered the underside in a fibreglass "protective" skin. He had bought himself an Elan Sprint. I still remember a slightly worrying moment when an MOT inspector got me under the ramp to show that he could poke his screwdriver up through one of the rear chassis legs. Fortunately I knew that he hadn't found its real weak spots and was able to show that he had simply discovered a drain hole for which a matching hole existed on the other rear leg. My Alpine had a detachable hardtop but no hood. I did have a tonneau cover for it but it was always a bit risky with Scottish weather. It was also more difficult to open and shut the doors with hardtop removed and removal was a two man job so most of the time it remained on. [More photos of Peter's Sunbeam Alpine can be found here]
A Ginetta G15
Ginetta G15 arrival.
Up until this time I had never made a loss on selling my cars but having forked out 240 for the Alpine in October 1971 I sold it for spares or repair in July 1974 at a substantial loss.

This experience probably had a similar effect on me to the effect that caused its previous owner to buy a glassfibre car and I bought my last Rootes related vehicle in the form of a Sunbeam Stiletto engine and transmission clothed in a Ginetta G15. Despite running on crossply tyres the G15 could still pass through roundabouts a lot faster than the Alpine on good radials and must rank as one of the best fun cars I ever owned.

The Alpine had served well for courting but the Ginetta was to be our wedding car and stayed with us until our daughter outgrew the carrycot that we put behind the seats. Having bought the Ginetta for 325 in July 1974 we sold it in Feb 1977 for 450 thus getting me further hooked on glassfibre cars. That said the next one was a bit of a come down, a Reliant Rebel Estate that cost the princely sum of 70 and had a con rod sticking through the side of the engine, but that's into another era."
Thanks for sending that over Peter, a good read! Peter adds that he has done some detective work, and happily his old Ginetta (reg. XPD 999G) is still on the road, and photos showing it competing in historic motorsport turned up recently too.
More motoring memoirs can be found in the motoring memories section at oldclassiccar.

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