1958 Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire
Year of manufacture1958
Engine numberto be advised
Number of seats2
1958 Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire Saloon
Registration no. 4590 WE
Chassis no. 320022
Engine no. to be advised
While most motor manufacturers entered the post-war era with cars little changed from those on offer in 1939, Armstrong Siddeley was able to launch a new model immediately, announcing the Hurricane in May 1945. A stylish, 4/5-seater, three-position drophead coupé, the Hurricane was soon joined by the mechanically similar Lancaster saloon, both cars using a developed version of the advanced, 2.0-litre overhead-valve six introduced in 1938. (Choosing the evocative names of WW2 aircraft for its models made good sense for Armstrong Siddeley, which had built many of them as Hawker Siddeley and Armstrong Whitworth and supplied the engines for countless others).
In 1952 the company departed from this practice, launching the all-new '346 Sapphire' saloon, which had been developed with input from the great W O Bentley. A large, refined six-seater, the Sapphire was an instant success despite being considerably more expensive than its smaller stablemates, and set new standards of performance and quality for Armstrong Siddeley. It was powered by an advanced, 3.4-litre, six-cylinder engine of 'square' (90mm) bore/stroke dimensions, which featured inclined valves in hemispherical combustion chambers. Initially there was a choice of four-speed pre-selector or synchromesh gearboxes, with a Rolls-Royce-built GM automatic available for 1955 on the Mark 2 version. A separate chassis was retained, boasting independent suspension at the front by means of coil-springs and wishbones, while power assisted steering could be ordered for the Mark 2.
By 1957, sales of the larger Sapphire were in decline and Armstrong Siddeley responded with what would be the model's final variant, the Star Sapphire, which featured extensive revisions to the body, interior, engine, transmission and running gear, the intention being to create an even more effective competitor in the luxury car market. Engine capacity increased to 4.0 litres, a Borg Warner three-speed automatic gearbox was the only transmission on offer, and the Star became the first Armstrong Siddeley to incorporate disc brakes (Girlings at the front). Power assisted steering was standard. So well received was this new model, that the Star was awarded the Gold Medal and the Institute of British Carriage and Automobile Manufacturers 1st prize award for cars in its price range. Indeed, many knowledgeable enthusiasts consider these Star Sapphires to be the finest of all Armstrong Siddeley motor cars. Manufacture of all Armstrong Siddeley cars ceased in 1960 when the company decided to concentrated on the aviation side of its business, by which time only 902 production Star Sapphires had been completed. Today survivors of this elegant model are both rare and highly sought after.
Chassis number '320022' is the 22nd car built and was sold new in November 1958 to Armstrong Siddeley dealer Essam & Hewson Ltd of Sheffield for use as a demonstrator. Only four earlier chassis are know to have survived. In 1959 the Star was sold to its first private owner, E F Westaway, proprietor of a steel mill in Sheffield. In 1964 a Mr C E Bradshaw became owner and kept the car until the original logbook was cancelled in 1977.
The ownership history resumes in 1990 when the Star, by this time in a dilapidated condition, was purchased in Finningley, Doncaster by Barry Saunders. A professional restoration by G & T Repairs of Morley, Leeds then ensued, and in 1993 the Star was sold to one R Crazer of Market Weighton. Its next owner (1994) was Grundy Mack Classic Cars followed by four further private owners up to 2012 (see list on file) when the previous vendors acquired the car to use for towing their 1958 Car Cruiser Carissima caravan.
Described by the private vendor as in generally good condition, the Star is offered with a V5C registration document, an alternative Sphinx mascot, original maintenance and workshop manuals, assorted Armstrong Siddeley Owners Club magazines, complete toolkit and a substantial file of history for the period 1990 onwards. The latter includes correspondence from the Club suggesting that the original engine ('320025') has been replaced with a later unit, '320157'.