Having been signed off in 1961, the Carrozeria Touring-styled Sunbeam Venezia, aimed at the more fashion-conscious Continental buyers, was finally unveiled in September 1963. Most appropriately, the launch took place in St Mark's Square, Venice, the stylish two-door coupé transported there by gondola. 'The car of today - and tomorrow' proclaimed the Turin Show publicity material for the new 100mph, disc-braked fixed head.
Touring's other classics, such as the Lamborghini 350GT and Aston Martin DB4/5/6 series, their new GT for Rootes employed the traditional Superleggera construction method with a tubular steel frame clad in aluminum body panels. The Venezia was based on the well-proven Sunbeam Rapier floor pan, shared with other Rootes models, but bodied and completed by Touring in Milan. Hand-built and necessarily expensive, the Venezia struggled to find buyers. By 1965 a mere 203 had been produced, with only seven allocated to the UK. Just over 40 years later, only 26 Venezias are known to survive, fewer than half a dozen in this country.
Images: Touring Superleggera; www.sunbeamvenezia.com; www.viaretro.com; leroux.andre.free.fr