Sid Armstrong's BLOG - March 2013

Sid Armstrong, a proud member of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club of Australia

This year as part of my journey to “The Early Gold Rush Rally” at Bendigo I cadged a lift with Tina de Vries to Forbes. Here we met up with President Tony and First Lady Tina Carter for breakfast.

Finally, I get to travel to an Armstrong Siddeley event with the President in a ‘Sapphire’ again!

It rained all the way to Finley and I spent time thinking of the cars I expected to see at the Federal Rally. The 346 Sapphire tended to dominate numerically.

Fortunately, Dear Penn's book "THE ORIGINAL 346 SAPPHIRE - Explored in Great Depth" is a favourite of mine, so I will quote from it.

"The 346 Sapphire is perhaps the epitome of classical British design and bridges the grand cars of the 1930's with modern functionality. Some people believe it is the most beautiful production car of the 1950's."

I will return to such joyful thoughts and words after I recount a little more of my Bendigo visit. After Finley, we managed to arrive in Bendigo the afternoon before the Rally. The joys of the Hotel Shamrock overtook me, such a delightful venue for dining and tippling. I was able to taste many choice reds during the happy social engagements there and at other venues.

Despite the healthy demands of having to taste excellent wine supplemented by fine food, I sought to form an opinion of the Armstrong Siddeley cars at the Rally. The standard of these cars is very high. I confess to letting others roll around on the ground performing under body checks during judging. Four Sapphires in their class caught my eye and forgive me Dear Reader if I write of them before my thoughts escape me! It is purely my opinion when I refer to them as the Best Sapphires in Bendigo.

The first is the magnificent 1952 Sapphire Mark 1- 6 light presented after eleven years of total restoration from northern Victoria. As an example, it is possibly in presentation far far superior than the day this 6 Light Saloon left the dealer. The attention to detail in this restoration defies my vocabulary. This picture highlights the flowing lines of the Sapphire.

1952 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 1, 6-light

The second is a rare 1953 Sapphire Mark 1- 4 light.  A Victorian car, it has the distinction of being a Bradly restoration. I believe there were only twelve 4 Light Sapphires to be sent to Australia and this example represents one of the remaining half dozen. This picture exemplifies the classic carriage in late afternoon sunlight cruising along a country road.

1953 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 1 4-light
1955 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 2 6-light continental body

Next is a 1955 Sapphire Mark 2 - 6 light. Again a Victorian car, that reaches the limits of pristine elegance and is presented in body as a Sapphire Continental. Armstrong Siddeley didn’t market the Continental body concept as did Rolls Royce and Bentley; however this fine car is presented with components from Armstrong Siddeley.

1955 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 2 6-light continental body

I won't discuss the continental concept from an engineering perspective. Probably because the closest I have come to a Bentley Continental was when such a car and chauffeur were offered by a relative to a late sister to tour the Continent. Ah, those were the days!

The final car is a 1957 Sapphire Mark 2 Limousine. This elegant car has received a faithful restoration in the hands of the owner, who has worked with great sympathy towards bringing this excellent car to its eventual grandeur. This rare Limousine is just one of the many examples of the marque that reside in South Australia. This car is shown content in a beautiful Australian scene on the after-Rally tour of Tasmania

1957 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire Mark 2 limousine

To these absolutley magnificent cars and to their proud owners, I raise my glass.

Until my next report.....