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Classic Cars Wiki

Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire

The Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire was a large post-war saloon automobile made by the British company of Armstrong Siddeley. A distinctive element of the Sapphires was the V-shaped radiator which had the winged Armstrong Siddeley sphinx motif mounted on it. On some models the sphinx sported jet engines on its sides.

There were a number of Sapphire models produced between 1952 and 1960, when the company ceased car production.

Sapphire 234[]

The 234 was produced from 1955 to 1958 and used a four-cylinder 2,290 cc version of the 346 engine. The transmission was a manual four-speed gearbox with optional overdrive.

803 were produced.

Sapphire 236[]

The 236 was made between 1955 and 1957 and used the six-cylinder 2,310 cc engine previously seen in the Armstrong Siddeley Whitley. A conventional manual gearbox was available but many were fitted with a Lockheed Manumatic "clutchless" transmission.

603 were produced.

Sapphire 346[]

The 346 was the first of the Sapphires introduced late in 1952 for sale in 1953 and continuing until 1958. The six-cylinder 3,435 cc engine had hemi-spherical combustion chambers and could have optional twin Stromberg carburettors (£25 extra) which increased the output from 125 to 150 bhp (93 to 112 kW) giving a top speed in excess of 100 mph (161 km/h). The front suspension was independent coil springs with a rigid axle and leaf springs at the rear. The Girling hydraulic brakes used 11 in (279 mm) drums all round.

The body was available as a four- or six-light (two or three windows on each side) at the same cost and with either a bench or individual front seats. The seats were finished in leather, with the dashboard and door-cappings in walnut veneer. A heater was standard.

It was introduced with the choice of a Wilson electrically-controlled finger-tip four-speed pre-selector gearbox as a £30 option, or four-speed synchromesh gearbox. It became available with automatic transmission (Rolls Royce four-speed) with the introduction of the Mark II in 1954.

A long-wheelbase model was launched in 1955 as a limousine version which had the pre-selector gearbox as standard, however, there was an optional four-speed manual column-change gearbox available.

A small number of Utility models (US term pickup trucks) were produced for the Arabian and Australian markets. Models for export to the U.S. were always delivered with twin caburettors.

A saloon with the optional twin-carburettors and synchromesh transmission tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1953 had a top speed of 100.1 mph (161.1 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 13.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 18.7 miles per imperial gallon (15.1 L/100 km; 15.6 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1,757 including taxes.

7,697 were produced.

Star Sapphire[]

The first Star Sapphire saloon prototype was built on a converted 346 Sapphire chassis. The production models replaced the Sapphire in late 1958 and continued through to the summer of 1960.

The six-cylinder engine was enlarged to 3,990 cc with twin Zenith carburettors as standard and power output increased to [SAE] 165 bhp (167 hp, 123 kW), or [DIN] 145 bhp (147 hp, 108 kW).

Servo-assisted 12 in (305 mm) Girling disc brakes were used on the front wheels and power steering was added. A BorgWarner type DG automatic gearbox was usually fitted.

902 saloons were produced, as well as 77 long-wheelbase cars, 73 of which were built as limousines (including 2 prototypes). The limousine version was made in 1960 only and had a single-carburettor engine and manual gearbox (the automatic gearbox was fitted to 12 examples). The remaining 4 chassis were used for 3 hearses and an ambulance. 980 Star Sapphires were produced.

A Star Sapphire saloon with automatic transmission was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 99.6 mph (160.3 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 14.8 seconds. A fuel consumption of 15.4 miles per imperial gallon (18.3 L/100 km; 12.8 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £2,498 including taxes of £735.


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