By Maz Woolley
At the end of the 1950’s the cars from Armstrong Siddeley and Humber illustrated the continued shift away from old traditional firms who had been producing high quality cars for some time to big combines like Rootes with the resources to do more development and advertising.
The age of labour intensive coachbuilt cars was giving way to production lines and mergers. By 1960 Armstrong Siddeley no longer made cars.
Armstrong Siddeley – Traditional sales presentation
Humber – Racier more transatlantic presentation
This article looks at the Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire as modelled by Brooklin in its Lansdowne range and the Humber Super Snipe from Neo.
Brooklin LDM 119 Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire
The final Star Sapphire was produced in 1960. Fitted with a 3,990cc engine the car could just exceed the 100MPH mark. At over £2,600 UK pounds including taxes in 1958 this was an expensive car, dearer than a Daimler Majestic, and considerably more expensive then the Jaguar MK IX. The Humber Super Snipe of 1958 was £1,000 UK pounds less.
The Armstrong Siddeley was beautifully made, the paint finish was beautiful and the interior was trimmed to a very high standard indeed. The company probably only regarded Daimler and Rolls Royce as competition but they were catering to a declining market sector and only 902 of the saloons left the factory before car production was brought to a close. In the same year Daimler became part of the Jaguar Group.
The Lansdowne model captures the car beautifully. The paint finish is to a very high standard indeed. The Sphinx mascot on the bonnet is a fine item and wipers and door handles are fine castings well fitted, as is the lovely boot number plate and light assembly. Other notable features are the small sidelights fitted on the front wings, chrome strips along the base of the car and neat bumpers, grille and lights. The use of fitted “chromed” metal side window frames is very effective. I am not normally a fan of the all metal lights on Brooklin products but they look acceptable on this car at viewing distance.
Inside the car is nicely painted and has a good dash with cast in detail finished in wood colours though the instruments are not printed on.
Sadly the Star Sapphire script on the boot is just a cast in lump where a printed or photo-etched item would have been better.
Neo Humber Super Snipe Sedan 1965
As the small scale luxury car makers ceased production the market for Executive cars began to split between the Jaguar group’s Jaguar and Daimler ranges and the larger cars from the mass makers like the Wolseley 6/110 and Humber Super Snipe. And from 1963 onwards new competition in the form of the 2000 saloons from Rover and Triumph would be added to the marketplace.
The Super Snipe was a name used by Humber for many years for their top of the range model and by the time of the Neo model it was in its Series III form. It was famous as the first mass-produced UK car to have four headlamps. A 2,965cc straight six engine would propel the car to 100MPH, just. Inside the trim was carefully designed to ape luxury car fittings with a wooden dashboard and door cappings, leather seats and little touches like folding tables in the back of the front seats as well as the obligatory ashtrays front and back and cigar lighter.
The Super Snipe was very popular as a Mayoral car for small towns and as official cars for transporting other dignitaries. It was also a widely used as a formal hire car as it could be bought with an interior division.
The Neo model is painted in the popular maroon colour and has a lot of fine photo-etched detail with the Super Snipe scripts being particularly fine. The snipe symbol on the boot is a lovely little badge. Light cowls, grilles and lights are all impressive and the wheel trims are correct. Inside the dashboard is very nicely printed and painted and the door cappings are nicely finished in wood effect paint.
In its way the Snipe was the end of an era like the Armstrong Siddeley. The final Snipes and Imperials were made by the end of the 1960s and the Chrysler group, who had taken over Rootes, never produced a replacement. The segment of the market that the Humber Hawk and Super Snipe had occupied was being taken over by the new lighter, faster, and more economical Triumph and Rover saloons at one end and the fine handling and luxurious XJ6 2.8 at the other end, as well as by the growing number of foreign cars being imported from Mercedes-Benz and others.
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