The Early Sunbeam Alpine Sports Car

                                        1955 Sunbeam Alpine Mark 3

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     The new Sunbeam-Talbot sports car was launched in 1948 by the Rootes Group in two versions:

  • The "80" was powered by a 1.2 litre engine developing 47 bhp
  • The "90" used a 2 litre engine which produced 64 bhp

     Both were offered as either a drop head coupe or a four door saloon, and their engines were based on pre-WW2 4-cylinder, side valve units, but which were now fitted with uprated cylinder heads using an overhead valve arrangement.

     Designated the Mark 1, they had a four speed gearbox, used a column gear change, and remained in production until 1950.

     Following some styling changes both inside and out, the improved Mark 2A drop head coupe was launched in 1952, and was used as the basis of a stylish convertible, the Sunbeam Alpine sports, which was introduced in 1953.

     The new sports car featured:

  • A modified box section frame
  • The solid front axle was replaced with independent coil spring suspension
  • A close ratio gearbox was added together with an overdrive unit
  • Surprisingly, the column gear change was retained
  • Oversized Lockheed drum brakes were used all round, combined with competition brake linings
  • The wheels were drilled to assist in cooling the brakes

     The Sunbeam Alpine was produced between 1953 and 1955.

     Although based on the Sunbeam-Talbot 90, it was simply called either the Sunbeam Alpine or Talbot Alpine, but not the Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine.

     It was a two seater convertible originally modified by George Hartwell, a Sunbeam-Talbot dealer, as a limited edition rally car.

     It used the same 2267 cc, 4-cylinder, overhead valve engine as the Sunbeam-Talbot 90, combined with a single Stromberg carburettor.

     However, the compression ratio was increased from 6.45 to 7.5:1, which produced 80 bhp, and a top speed of 96 mph.

     One of the features of the Alpine was its emphasis on the comfort of its occupants, which included deep cushioned seats, a very efficient heater, and plenty of luggage space.

     For use in competitions, the front windscreen could easily be removed and replaced with low, plastic, racing screens

     A review of the specification of both the Mark 1 and Mark 3 Alpines indicated that the only difference between the two models was:

                                                         Mark 1                              Mark 2
Compression Ratio                            7.42:1                                7.5:1
Max BHP                                      80 @ 4200 rpm               80 @ 4400 rpm
Max Torque                         124 ft/lbs @ 1800 rpm    1224 ft/lbs @ 2400 rpm
Stromberg Carburettor                  Type DAA 36                      Type DI 36

                                       Alpine          Alpine              Talbot           Talbot
Technical Data  
              Mark 1          Mark 3         Mark 2(90)     Mark 3 (90)
Production:                  1953-1954   1954-1955    1950-1952     1954-1957
Engine cc                          2267            2267               2267              2267
Cylinders, bhp                  4, 80            4, 80                4,70               4,80
Top Speed mph                  95                91                   85                   94
0-60 mph, secs                 18               18.4                20.2                17.4
fuel consumption               24                24                   23                   22
(overall)                                                                                                               Standing 1/4 mile             21.1             21.4                22.2                22.2

                                           1954 Sunbeam Alpine Mk1

                                                1954 Sunbeam Alpine                                                                             Stirling Moss won the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally in this car

                                               1954 Sunbeam Alpine

                                                         Full Screen                                                                                                                               Full Screen

     Compared with other British sports cars, it was more powerful than the MG TD, but was no match for the Jaguar XK120, even though the two cars weighed the same.

     This aside, the Alpine fared well in international rallies.

     A special edition Alpine, fitted with a highly tuned engine developing 106 bhp, reached 120 mph in the hands of the famous rally driver Sheila van Damm.

     The name Alpine was attributed to the previous Sunbeam-Talbot's rally success in the six day Coupe des Alpes, driven by such notaries as Stirling Moss and Sheila van Damm.

     In the 1953 Alpine Rally, the prize of the Coupe des Alpes went to a team of four Sunbeam Alpines, one of which, driven by Stirling Moss, finished in sixth position.

     Another entrant, Sheila van Damm, won the Coupe des Dames.

     In the Alpine rally a year later, Stirling Moss again won a Coupe des Alpes driving a Sunbeam Alpine.

     In fact, he was one of only two rally drivers to win a Gold Alpine Cup in the Alpine Rally.

     The Sunbeam Alpine was discontinued in 1955, but the name was revived in 1959 with the advent of the newer, smaller, Sunbeam Alpine Series 1.

     The original Alpine sports car was hand built by the coachbuilders Thrupp and Maberly in both the Mark 1 and 3 versions (for an unknown reason, a Mark 2 was never produced).

     Out of a total production of 1,582 of the Mark 1-3 Alpine, 961 were exported to the US and Canada as left hand drive models, 445 stayed in the UK, and the remaining 175 were exported elsewhere.


     A 1953 Sunbeam Alpine Mark 1 in superb condition was placed at auction with a guide price of between £12,000/$19,000 and £17,000/$27,000. On the other hand, an example of the same model that required a complete restoration was offered at £2,000/$3,000.



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