British Barn Find: 1963 Humber Sceptre

Show of hands if you know what a Humber is. I didn’t but I’m learning that there’s a whole lot of auto stuff that I don’t know about. But I’m certain that our esteemed readership includes a few who are familiar with this seldomly encountered British brand, especially those who hail from the U.K. Today’s find is a 1963 Sceptre I, it’s located Bloxham, United Kingdom and is available, here on eBay for £2,750 (about $3,340).

Briefly, Humber started out in 1896 manufacturing bicycles and motorcycles and then moved on to automobiles. In the 1930s, Rootes group acquired Humber and around that time they exited the bicycle business selling it to Raleigh. My first really nice bicycle was a Sturmey Archer three-speed rear hub equipped Raleigh that I received as a Christmas present in about 1966 – I rode the wheels off of that thing! Anyway, military vehicles came about during the war years, and then a resumption of passenger auto manufacturing returned. In 1967 Rootes sold out to Chrysler with the Sceptre being Humber’s last official model. Under Chrysler control, the Humber name and Sceptre models continued through 1976 and then both the marque and model were discontinued.

Being a 1963 model, our subject car is a first-year  MK I. It was considered a luxury model and based on the Hillman Super Minx. The seller tells us that this car has been parked for a decade and, “The car ran well before being stored in the garage” which is a more polite version of the old saw, “ran when parked”. The seller does amend his original statement and mentions later that the engine was started five years ago. The running part happened courtesy of an 80 HP, 1.6-litre in-line four-cylinder engine working through a five-speed manual transmission which drives the rear wheels. No mileage claim is made.

The exterior is two-tone green and looks pretty reasonable. The seller suggests a good wash and a “colour restorer” would bring it back to life. Solidity doesn’t appear to be an issue and the body and floors are supposedly sound. From a styling perspective. I see a lot of different design activities going on – definitely, the Hillman influence is present but there’s also something that I would call the American Motors effect going on too.

The seller states, “The interior is a green vinyl and is in generally very good condition” and that’s it. The images aren’t very comprehensive but what’s there illustrates the right-hand drive layout and the large clear gauges. It appears that the steering wheel’s horn cap is missing. If it’s lost, it’s probably going to be a tough piece to source.

I don’t know what the U.S. market for a car like a Humber Sceptre Mk I is, or even if there is one, so I imagine the next owner will be U.K. based. Regardless, someone needs to acquire this curious sedan and get it road worthy again. It’s a great example of what British auto manufacturing was capable of building in years gone by, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. Uncle Buck

    Is that the car they drive in Harry Potter?

    Like 1
    • RJ

      No. The Harry Potter car is a 1962 Ford Anglia

      Like 3
  2. Robin Tomlin

    Being an English US resident I was surprised to see this here since I thought this site was just North American sales. I am quite familiar with these cars as I own a Plymouth Cricket and a 69 Sunbeam Alpine coupe and this car was built in the same factory as them. Importing this car for restoration makes no sense but in England it is well worth the effort of reviving it.

    Like 7
  3. chrlsful

    “…makes no sense …”
    as do the majority. Auto purchase choice has much more than
    common sense involved. Desire, the individual ‘style’, year, impression given, humor and much more factor L A R G E in a purchase. That’s Y we have this site. For enjoyment. An ‘appliance’ might make sense. I have one of those. I’d like another for these other reasons. Enjoy the holliday (same idea, not just another day). Celebrate !

    Like 1
  4. DelBoy

    Owned one back in the 1970’s. It broke my heart and broke my wallet. Bought on a dark and stormy night and discovered in the morning it had been well bodged. Paper stuffed in the rear wheel arches; larger tyres on the back to disguise the sagging springs. It had a dash to die for, E-type territory in it’s appearance. The engine should be a 1800cc with overdrive on 3rd and 4th. One major design fault was the recessed petrol filler, placed horizontally on the rear deck. If the drain hole was blocked in any way, rain water would pour into the petrol tank. Spent many mornings pumping it out via the carb input.

    Sold it for a pittance and I now suspect that ‘banger racers’ bought it. They ask me to test drive it and the pair of them sat in the back cooing like lovers. Very weird!

    Lovely looking car nevertheless, but you can never go back to a past love eh?

    Like 2
  5. BrianT BrianT Member

    Someone in our town in the late 60s had an older Number, or different model as it didn’t look like this. I seem to remember that is had a 4 on the column. They painted it a bright blue, nice color, odd car.

    Like 1
    • Jim ODonnell Staff

      It could be a four-speed, I got conflicting research on a four vs. a five. Perhaps it’s a four with O/D.


      Like 1
      • DelBoy

        That’s what I’m thinking Jim. Five speed manual gearbox simply did not exist back then. Mine was an electrically operated overdrive on 3rd and 4th. Rewired it once badly and watched the entire length of wire from the dashboard switch back to the fuse box go up in smoke. Happy days! It is possible that the earliest models were 1600cc. Mine was a 64′ build and 1850cc.

  6. Martin Horrocks

    Hillman, Singer, Sunbeam, Humber was the pecking order for Rootes marques. By the time this car was built, the class divisions between middle classes wete changing. However, the Sceptre was top of the range for the cars based on this body. More luxury than sports orientated. Sunbeam usually did the sports versions, but not on this “Super Minx” range.

    Like 2
  7. Sam61

    Too bad it doesn’t spell Sceptre on the trunk so you could change it to Spectre.

  8. Wayne from Oz

    No vinyl seats in Humbers. Would be good quality leather.

  9. Beyfon

    No 5-speed here, it’s a 4-speed with overdrive. That said, on no 5-speed gearboxes back then – I once owned a quite rare 1953 Fiat 1900. It had a 5-speed column shifted gearbox from the factory.

  10. yargnitran

    Humber and Rapier of this vintage are the ones to own,overdrive on 3-4 great car also they made a v8 prototype with the 260 same as the tiger,i got a great story from the rootes competition guys,they took this prototype out for a test drive and like all English manufactures they used a dual carriageway local to the factories,anyway a mk 2 jag came up behind it and flash his lights for the Humber to move over he put his foot down to the floor lit up the rear tyres and the jag was a blur in his mirror,only trouble was his brakes started to fade as his tried to bring down from 125mph ,they all loved this car but alas the big boss made them scrap it as it was not what Humber cars are about,i would love to put the 289/top loader into one of these and wow what a 1960s sleeper this would be,

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