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Undercover Find: 1965 Sunbeam Imp!


I’m going to call this an “undercover find”, because it’s been kept under cover for the past ten years waiting to be put back on the road again. Not only that, it’s a pretty unusual car with the engine in what most would consider a strange spot for a little British car–the rear. This 1965 Sunbeam Imp is located in Freeland, Washington, and that’s a darn shame for me because that means it’s too far away from me for a look-see. The seller has listed it here on eBay where the opening bid is $400 and there’s no reserve. I’d thank Jim S. for this find, but really I want to ask him to find one just like it but a lot closer to me!


“Honey, they stole the engine!” I told you the engine was in the back! I just wish the seller had shown a picture of it as well, although the general lack of rust here is encouraging. Imp’s don’t have a lot of storage space, as you can see. This car was a competitor for the original Austin/Morris Mini, but instead of cramming the engine and transmission into the very front for space savings, it was put in the rear. Imps made pretty decent racers as a result; think of a really tiny, boxy 911. Ok, that’s a big stretch! Yup, Jamie’s jumped off the deep end for sure!


The seller tells us that the car was running when parked (of course!) but that the clutch and brake master cylinders have both deteriorated from sitting. That I can believe, the worst thing you can do to British hydraulics is not use them! Pretty easy repairs, though, chaps.


Shades of Corvair? It’s certainly possible. And you have to wonder what happened to the “B”! I hope someone blows the cover on this find sky high and has it back on the road again in no time. Hopefully it’s one of you folks; if so, let us know!


Here’s what one of the racers looked like! I found this picture out on photobucket. I remember these from my youth. Someday!


  1. philip l Millward

    The engine is either a 875cc coventry climax or 928cc , high revving engine derived from a fire pump engine , stick two SU , carbs on it and call it a Rally 75 hp ! think this being a 65 probably called a singer Chamois

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  2. ClassicCarFan

    I think if it were Singer Chamois it would have quad headlights and a fancier grille. This one seems to be plain old “Imp”.

    The engine was not made by Coventry Climax. It was made by Rootes group themselves, just based on a Coventry Climax design.

    These are really quite fun cars and realtively rare in the US ? If you drive in a urban/suburban or tight twisty country roads these cars can be made to handle well and have a revvy little motor so can be a lot of fun to drive. Not so good for the open road. Back in the UK these were popular in the small capacity classes on the race-tracks.

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  3. Frozenbird

    I actually have a fully restored ’65 Imp that looks a lot like the racer pic above. Mine has been tuned up a bit to around 90hp and its probably the most fun you will ever have with 90hp. These cars are so incredibly light and nimble, comfortable to drive and very rare on this side of the pond. I decided to do mine up in the ‘spirit’ of Rosemary Smiths winning car from the 1965 Tulip Rally in Denmark. With these cars at British car events you are pretty much guaranteed to be the only one as you park beside all the 6’s and B’s.

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    • Rick Martin

      I bought a new(red) ’65 Imp from a dealer in India. Traded my gutless Daf (Dafodil made in Holland) in for $150. Had lots of fun with this car, and ran slalom at Chicago Solder field parking lot. It did quite well. Sold it for $500. Lots of memories wit the “IMP”

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  4. Dave Wright

    Brings to mind the smell of castor racing fuel and chasing NSU’s around the track…..best used for vintage racing. Fun little boxes.

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  5. Grant

    They didn’t have too much storage space in the front, but from memory, the rear window opened (like a hatchback) and the rear seat back folded down, giving a large space for luggage, but also reducing it to a 2 seater..

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    • RickyM

      That’s right Grant – there was space behind the back seat on a shelf where you could put things without putting the back seat down. Great little cars – I learned to drive in one when I was 17, although mine was a Hillman Imp rather than Sunbeam as mine was in England. Would have another one any day !

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