1960 Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire
Ex-St John Foti Collection; one of only 73 made; few owners; disc brakes; power steering; lusty 4.0 straight-six; manual gearbox; nice transferable number, SMC 48
First registered in London in June 1960, this extremely rare Star Sapphire Limousine has had just four owners from new, according to the V5C. From 1982 until 2009 it formed part of the Eric St John Foti Collection where it was on display at Hermitage Hall in Norfolk alongside several other Armstrong Siddeley cars and aero engines (including the Bristol Siddeley Olympus engine that powered Concorde 001 on its record-breaking first supersonic flight on 13th October 1969).
Correspondence on file refers to "a long and rather costly" renovation of the car by Crown Service Station of Outwell, Cambs, in the early 1990s although sadly there are no invoices to detail the work carried out. St John Foti was also a great friend and admirer of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland (to whom a whole room of the museum was dedicated) and we are reliably informed that she was taken out for a drive in this very car on one of her visits to Hermitage Hall – no doubt she felt right at home in the romantically rosy interior! A museum guide on file also suggests that SMC 48 may in fact be the last of only 73 Star Sapphire limousines made, but you will have to make your own minds up on that score.
Our vendor acquired SMC 48 when the St John Foti Collection was dispersed at auction in 2009. Although the car was still in running order, it was in need of recommissioning following its years on static display. The vendor was planning to use it as a wedding car so he gave it a thorough service and a brake overhaul which included new front discs and pads, new rear wheel cylinders with stainless steel liners and a new servo.
Unfortunately his plans came to naught when a close family member fell seriously ill so the car has remained largely unused ever since. As you can see in the photos, SMC 48 is no show queen but we are told that she is now in good running order.
At 17’ 9" long she is a big old girl and the vendor had to remove the bumper over-riders to squeeze her into his workshop, although these have been kept safely in the spacious ‘Continental touring boot’, which also contains the rear wheel spats, the tool tray, spare wheel and sundry useful spares.
The history file includes seven old MOTs from 1983 – 1993 during which time the mileage rises from 67,027 to 68,742 (the odometer now showing 68,768 miles), along with eight old tax discs from 1983 – 1991. There is also an original Star Sapphire owner’s handbook, wiring diagram and lubrication chart; correspondence from the Armstrong Siddeley Owner’s Club; press cuttings about the museum and the dispersal sale plus various other documents.
The last car ever made by Armstrong Siddeley, the Star Sapphire was a class act in its day with a powerful 4.0 straight-six developing some 150bhp with bags of torque, 100mph performance, a four-speed all-synchro gearbox, servo-assisted disc brakes and power steering. It positively bristled with cutting-edge features such as separate heating/ventilation for the rear compartment, rear window demisting, map reading lights, adjustable arm rests and steering column plus numerous other luxuries.
No wonder Autocar declared that it had "few equals, even beyond its price range", commenting on the "Rolls-like civility" and wondering at the "staid coachwork which gives no hint of the high performance and the virtues of a good sports car".
On offer here at a very modest guide price, this exceedingly rare Limousine version, with few owners and an interesting history, should amply reward the remedial works now required to restore it to its former glory. An active owner’s club is on hand to give advice and encouragement, the icing on the cake being the nice London-issue number plate, SMC 48, which is transferable and no doubt has a value of its own.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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