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Imps in Grassroots Motorsports magazine

impster

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Greetings all,

Having been a long time subscriber to Grassroots Motorsports magazine (back to the days when it was called Auto-X), I was quite thrilled about a year ago when a freelance writer contacted me for info on Sunbeam Imps. He proceeded to write his article and highlighted the Imps of myself and Brent Kasl. Brent and I built our respective cars at about the same time and therefore exchanged a lot of information. Brent did an outstanding job on his near stock car, while I went the modified route.

Unfortunately for me, I sold the car so do not get credit for its construction in the article. So I just had to boast about the car in a public forum, as well as point out the article to those of you who may want to read more about Rootes' fabulous little rear engined car.

So bear with me while I toot my own horn: The white with red/blue/yellow trim Imp on page 67 of the Feb. 2003 issue was rescued from a field in Albuquerque where it had been parked for about 17 years. What a find! I then spent 7 years stripping the car to bare metal, top to bottom, inside and out, then rebuilding/restoring/modifying every component. The finished product was a hoot to drive and a big attention getter. One of the more entertaining aspects of driving it was the response of little children! Everywhere I drove, they would always point and wave. Great fun!

In any case, it is great to see "my" car, even if it isn't mine any longer, as it brings back many fond memories.

Tony Fontaine
"impster" (the license plate that I had on the car)
 

Sherlock

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Tony,

Is that the Imp sold through the Micro Cars website down in the southern states? If it is then I've been in contact with the guy who purchased the Imp that was on that website.

And there are a few Imps floating around. One guy up here near Toronto has done a beautiful job on restoring a Sunbeam Imp (the export model) to basically stock.

Is that magazine available on most newsstands?
 
OP
I

impster

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Grassroots Motorsports is available at the larger magazine racks. They also have a web site at www.grassrootsmotorsports.com. If you are not familiar with the mag, check it out. I've been a huge fan of the publication for many years. It is full of stories that the "typical" enthusiast can relate to. You won't read about prancing red house powered cars, but you will learn all about Brits, Volvos, VWs, Miatas, etc, etc. They even produce an annual competition where cars compete in three events: auto-X, drag race, and car show. The budgets are capped at $2002! I've never taken part, but there is a huge amount of interest in the event nationally and it makes for great reading.

I never visited Micro Car's web site, but that probably was my car for sale. As I understand it from my friend Brent Kasl (the other Imp in the story), my old car was basically parted out with the engine going into one vintage race vehicle and the body going elsewhere. That may or may not be an accurate description of what happened, but it was enough to make me cringe. It made getting no credit for the car a little harder to swallow. Oh well, I guess I should not have sold the car if I felt that strongly about it (actually, the proceeds are being used to help finance my Rapier V8 project!).

Tony
'61 Rapier Convertible
'76 Jaguar XJ6C
'76 BMW 2002
 

Sherlock

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Maybe a different car then. The guy I know from the southern States somewhere purchased his Imp complete and running, in good condition. To the best of my knowledge he planned to keep it together as he has another orphan Sunbeam, an Arrow sedan plus some other Rootes Group stuff.

Anyway, to straighten myself out and check my facts I'll try to track down the magazine.
 

jmason

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Tony - being a Sunbeam owner, the Imp article was the first one I read. Seems like a fun car. Great job on the restro!
 

Sherlock

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Checked at my local Chapters (megabox) bookstore today for a copy of Grassroots Motorsport, no dice yet. The guy I talked to thought that they did bring in some copies, maybe they show up in Canada slower. I'll keep an eye out anyway.
 

Sherlock

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Anyway, I finally found the magazine.

Great article! I loved the comparison they kept making between the Mini and Imp. And how at the end of the article they call it "a good alternative to the Mini"

And, regarding my earlier note, the Imp I'm aware of is down in Georgia now. I have actually seen about five of them (in various condition) advertised for sale within the last three years. And also awhile back I got a note on a different forum I'm on, about several Imps in New England somewhere that were about to be sent to a wrecker, I don't know if those ones were ever saved.
 

Steve

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The Imp was indeed a good alternative to the Mini, although Rootes initially had problems with cooling a rear-mounted aluminium engine. In the UK there were several versions, the Hillman Imp, the Singer Chamois (the upmarket version) and the Sunbeam Stilletto. The Stilletto was a very pretty coupe, with more steeply raked rear pillars. Makes me wonder which version was marketed in Canada and North America.
 

Sherlock

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<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Steve said: The Imp was indeed a good alternative to the Mini, although Rootes initially had problems with cooling a rear-mounted aluminium engine. In the UK there were several versions, the Hillman Imp, the Singer Chamois (the upmarket version) and the Sunbeam Stilletto. The Stilletto was a very pretty coupe, with more steeply raked rear pillars. Makes me wonder which version was marketed in Canada and North America<hr></blockquote>

The article did a very good doing basic coverage of all the variations (only missing the Commer commercial versions). Covered the engine problems you mentioned above. It also mentioned something I wasn't fully aware of before - that the 875 engine they used had Coventry-Climax origins, so is very tuneable to almost any specs.

The Imp we received here in North America, in very small numbers, was the basic version of the Hillman Imp although badged as a Sunbeam over here.
 
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