Imperfect Pair: 1968 Sunbeam Imps

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Reader Andrew P. writes: Hey, I have found two Sunbeam Imps for $950; one was fully restored at one point and had won awards according to the owner. They also come with boxes of new parts and visually have great patina. Maybe potential for a sleeper build or an easy restoration? The two cars are located in Saco, Maine and are being sold here on craigslist for $950 for the pair.

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What Andrew had no way of knowing was that the very first car I fell in love with was a Hillman Imp (same car, different branding in the UK). Dark blue, with Cosmic Mk. 2 wheels, located in Brandon, Suffolk, UK with the registration “62YOO” (if any of our UK fans can find it, I’d buy it in a heartbeat). Which really has me pining for these two, especially when I found out that the white one was a former show winner (ouch!) and they come with a lot of spare parts and manuals (double ouch!). If we weren’t in the middle of moving…

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There’s certainly some oxidation here, and as Rootes was never known for it’s rustproofing to begin with, there may be some challenges in the metal. However, where else are you going to find a rear-engined, all-alumimum engine construction, high-revving car that can run rings around a lot of more glamorous machinery when suitably tuned and slightly modified? The license plate dates from 1987-1999, but I can’t quite make out the sticker in the lower right corner, I think it’s either 87 or 97. At least one of the Imp Club newsletters that comes with the car dates from 1998, so I’m hoping for 1997.

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The seller characterizes them both as parts cars, but I can’t look at this interior and not hope that someone saves the white car. I would think the upholstered seats alone would cost the asking price to replace. I’m guessing the two ribbons in the passenger side footwell and dash plaques would tell a good story.

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And here’s the jewel of an engine. Most Imps have 875 cc overhead cam engines, while some have a 998 cc version. All, however, are derived from a Coventry Climax engine that has seen a lot of racing and sports car use, although the Imp version does differ somewhat from the Lotus version. I hope this one is not seized, as parts on this side of the ocean are a little difficult to source. Both the blue and white cars still have their engines intact. I wish I could bring these home, but I can’t–so will you buy these little cars and give them a home?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    I’m counting on our British fans to find “62Y00” for me :-) It was in 1974/75 that I “knew” the car. Passed it every day on the way too/from school…

    • VictorMatthew-Brown

      Sorry, I just checked and that reg hasn’t been taxed for at least 10 years, can’t be good news!

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Thanks for trying, Victor. It was a gorgeous Imp…I hope it still exists somewhere other than in my memories :-)

  2. Jason Houston

    Good pair if fishing lures.

  3. sir mike

    I’m sorry but if one of these was a restored show winner what kind of person does this??

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      The only times I’ve seen something like this is when the owner dies and whomever inherits the car doesn’t appreciate it.

  4. Rancho Bella

    they handle well but worth next to nothing

  5. Don Foote

    Won awards for what? My brother once got a trophy at a car show wedding for “most illegal”

  6. bcavileer

    All the work put into that resto… lost. Must have been some kind of real personal loss to have a decent car end up in that deplorable state. Alas, there’s a million stories in the naked city…
    I just hope the cars I brought back over the years and sold don’t end up this way. Would really make my life’s work seem pretty insignificant. Jeez… Hope that there is enough left to make 1 good one out of this pile of pine needles… or pine shadows as they are know round here.

  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    Fretting over the fate of these cars is akin to lamenting the demise of the Pinto or Vega. Cheap crap.

  8. Andrew P.

    We’ll now we know Jamie’s favorite car is a Hillman Imp. To bad your moving, but I emailed the buyer 5 hours after it was posted and already had two people going to look at them.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Thanks, Andrew. Actually, it’s my favorite reasonably priced car I don’t already own…I’m lucky enough to have my two dream cars now… :-)

      • Andrew P.

        What are your two dream cars?

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        I’m waiting until I post a “What’s in Jamie’s Barn” post (shortly, have to take some pictures during our move) and I promise to answer that :-)

    • Mike

      I bought them, they’re in Florida now. The white Imp was running and moving weeks after getting her home. She’s now undergoing a nut & bolt restoration

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        It’s good to know they went to a good home. Please keep us updated!

  9. Mike

    Will do, it was a 1997 tag sticker Jamie

    • Mike

      The white Imp is a 1964 B411 mk1 de luxe, not 1968.

  10. Mike

    Maine is to cold in January for this Florida boy

  11. Mike

    After driving her around the neighborhood a few days and all the systems checked out good, lights, cooling, fuel, charging ect. It’s was now time to get her prom ready.

  12. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Terrific, Mike! I’m glad they went to a good home!!!

  13. 'Boomer'...

    Mike,..I just found this site and it’s a few months since your posted purchase.Any chance of an up-date along with photo’s of the work in progress?

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