1954 Sunbeam Alpine MkI
Fully restored and in super condition throughout; displayed at the NEC; starred in Father Brown; one of only 1,192 made and perhaps 200 surviving; find a better one!
Launched in March 1953, the Sunbeam Alpine two-seater sports roadster was inspired by a one-off open rally car built by Bournemouth Sunbeam-Talbot dealer, George Hartwell. The production version was based on the existing Sunbeam-Talbot 90 saloon but with styling input from Raymond Loewy to add the sparkle needed to attract the all-important American market.
The 90’s chassis and running gear were retained, the former suitably stiffened to compensate for the reduced rigidity of the open-topped body, while the bodies were hand-made by Mulliners of Birmingham. To enhance the Alpine’s sporting credentials, the 2,267cc four-cylinder ohv engine received a power boost to 80bhp courtesy of a revised cylinder head which gave it a top speed of 95mph.
Initially for export only, the Alpine did not reach the UK market until the autumn of 1953 by which time its reputation had been enhanced by a blaze of publicity following victories in the Coupe des Alpes (winning the Coupe des Dames for Sheila van Damm) and record-breaking 120mph runs by Stirling Moss at Montlhery and Jabbeke.
Only 1,192 were made (801 LHD and 391 RHD) before the MkI was replaced by the MkIII in September 1954 (there was no MkII version) and it is thought that only about 200 survive today.
As the original buff logbook shows, this Sunbeam Alpine MkI was first registered in June 1954 and was originally owned by a Mr Alfred Cordin of Dunbar who kept it until 1968. It then had two further Scottish owners before moving to Bedfordshire in the 1970s where it remained until our vendor acquired it in 2006.
By this time the Alpine had been completely dismantled and although the chassis had been restored and the engine rebuilt, the rest of the car was in boxes. Over the next six years our vendor treated it to a thorough restoration as documented by many invoices on file. This included new inner and outer sills and wheel arch sections, new floor panels and a new rear apron.
All the brightwork was rechromed and the interior was professionally retrimmed in beige leather (including door cards and dash top) along with a refurbished steering wheel and dash instruments, new navy blue canvas hood and refurbished side-screens. The brakes, suspension and steering were fully overhauled with many new parts and the wiring harness was also renewed.
The engine was in good condition following the earlier rebuild and needed nothing more than a thorough service and tune-up. The original column-change gearbox was swapped for a floor-change four-speed with overdrive although the original gearbox is still available if desired. The attention to detail is most impressive, with every nut, bolt and screw replaced with new zinc plated items of the correct type – even the springs for the boot lid mechanism are new.
Although the car was green when acquired and had been green since it was first registered (as recorded on the buff logbook), during the restoration it was discovered that it had originally been painted Sapphire Blue, as confirmed by records kept by the Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register and by traces of the original blue paint found in the engine bay.
Quite why it was repainted before it was even registered is a mystery but, as you can see, the vendor opted to repaint it in the original Sapphire Blue. This not only suits the car beautifully, it also makes it the same colour as the Alpine so memorably driven by Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 classic, To Catch a Thief.
Since the restoration was completed in October 2012, the car has been in light regular use, including attending national STAR Club meetings in Wales and the North of England. In 2014 it was exhibited on the Club stand at the NEC as the focal point of their To Catch a Thief display and in 2015 it also starred in an episode of the BBC’s Father Brown series. Retaining its original (transferable) Edinburgh-issue number plate, LSG 588, it also comes with an original owner’s handbook, a lubrication chart and two sets of keys.
As you can see in the photos, the car remains in lovely condition throughout and must be among the best of the c.200 Alpine MkI models that still survive today.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email email@example.com
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