Armstrong Siddeley in Advertising
The Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire 346 saloon and Limousine had proved popular but the Sapphire 234 and 236 despite good performance, were doomed from the start by their styling, only 1400 cars were sold over a period of three years. By 1958 it was realised that to remain competitive new model was urgently needed.
It must also be remembered that the cars were only a very small part of what was by now heading to become one of the two largest companies in the UK. However, government uncertainty as to the future path for aircraft types, or scarcely believable, that planes were indeed the future, led to a period when contracts virtually dried up. This caused cash flow problems for Hawker Siddeley so that the setting up of a modern new car production line was not viable. A comprise was reached in that the Sapphire 346 should be upgraded and improved to become a stop gap till such time as finances allowed.
The Star Sapphire launched at the 1959 Earls Court Motor Show, though a direct development of the 346 was now an executive saloon in the more exclusive high-powered luxury class of motoring.
Also on the show stand was the 346 Sapphire car which had been used as the test bed for every change and development for the new car. So complete was the transformation that all except the factory team assumed it to be just another new Star Sapphire. In fact in the hands of Chief Engineer Alex Rice and his team it had covered in testing over 250,000 miles. In private ownership it continued to 400,000 plus miles and is still in existence today, although now in need of much deserved TLC.