Why a book on British cars in an American car mag? Well, this new book by respected writer and Classic American contributor Geoff Carverhill takes an in-depth look at one of Britain’s most important manufacturing groups, one that was influenced greatly by the U.S. automotive industry. Rootes copied many of the marketing and manufacturing methods used by GM, Ford and Chrysler.
They were one of the first companies to distribute GM cars in Britain, even before Lendrum & Hartman, but it was British manufacturers they had their eyes on and so built a product range similar to that of Alfred Sloan’s concept of a car for every budget. By the mid-1950s, with Hillman, Singer, Humber and Sunbeam, as well as their truck range, they had a complete vehicle range for most markets. Even their stylists created Trans-Atlantic designs; the big Humber Hawk and Super Snipes of the 50s and 60s, echoed the styling of 50s Chevrolets and Buicks.
The 1955 Sunbeam Rapier was styled in co-operation with the Raymond Loewy studio; its pillarless roofline and wraparound rear window being a direct copy of Loewy’s ’53 Studebaker Starliner. Containing over 400 archive quality black and white and colour photographs, it’s published by The Crowood Press at £40, but is available from The Rootes Archive Centre Trust at £32. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Amazon and independent book retailers.