1939 Sunbeam-Talbot 4-Litre Sports Saloon
One of only 44 made and two known to survive worldwide; few owners; known history from new; lusty 4.1-litre straight six; stunning car; find another!
The Sunbeam-Talbot name was created in 1938 following the acquisition by the Rootes Group of two of the finest pre-war British marques, Sunbeam of Wolverhampton and Talbot of London.
The first cars were made at the old Talbot works in North Kensington, but after the war production moved to the new Rootes factory at Ryton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire. The flagship model of the new marque was undoubtedly the imposing 4-Litre which was in fact a heavily reworked version of the Humber Super Snipe, restyled by Ted White and sharing that car’s X-braced ladder frame chassis, ‘Evenkeel’ independent front suspension with dashboard-adjustable shock absorbers, four-wheel hydraulic brakes and straight-six 4.1-litre engine.
Available in a variety of open and closed guises, the 4-Litre was a fast luxury tourer, the torquey powerplant producing 100bhp at 3,400rpm which, allied to a four-speed manual gearbox, could launch the big car to 50mph in just 11.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 85mph.
Only in production for two seasons before the Talbot factory switched to aero engine work for the war effort, just 229 4-Litres of all types were made, of which only 44 were Sports Saloons. Today only two are known to survive worldwide, the car on offer here being by far the best of the pair.
Purchased new by Dudley Turner of Kensington on 11th April 1939 from the main Rootes showroom in Devonshire House, Piccadilly, it was almost immediately exported to his main residence in Adelaide, South Australia, no doubt to escape the clouds of war that were gathering over London at the time.
A successful businessman and politician, Turner was also president of the Royal Automobile Association of Australia and was to keep the car for 20 years, even shipping it back to Britain in 1949 when he was representing Australia at an international tourism conference, being driven 4,500 miles around Europe in the car by his chauffeur before returning home. From 1946 – 1954 he also kept a detailed maintenance log in the back of the owner’s handbook which is still present to this day.
When Turner died in 1958, he bequeathed the car to the chauffeur who proved unable to afford the running costs and soon sold it to a judge in Adelaide, LK Newman, who also kept it for many years before selling it to a Dr Robert Klaebe of Port Augusta who in turn sold it to Alan Glover of Geelong in 1988.
A magazine article on file records that when Glover acquired the car it had covered 107,000 miles and was looking a little tired so he sent it to David Malkin Automotive of Geelong for a total body-off restoration which was completed in 1991, the engine being rebuilt by Andrew Hallam. Glover also fitted a pair of LED reversing lights beneath the rear bumper and flashing indicators front and rear as a concession to modern road conditions. He kept the car for 22 years, finally selling it in 2010 to an English gent who brought it back to the UK and got it registered here in January 2011.
A leading light in the Sunbeam-Talbot Club, the new owner continued to maintain the car meticulously with numerous invoices on file including a recored radiator and a new head gasket in 2011 and a full brake overhaul in 2013 (the latter having power assistance). Like Turner, he also kept a detailed log of every journey he made in the car, clocking up some 2,500 miles over seven years and winning several awards at car shows along the way. In 2013 the car appeared in an episode of the BBC TV series, ‘Father Brown’, a period drama set in the 1950s.
Our vendor acquired the car via Brightwells in 2017 to join a collection of vintage machinery and has used it only lightly, fitting a new distributor cap, rotor arm and contact set. It comes with sundry useful spares including two cylinder heads, door handles, dash instruments etc, plus an interesting file of literature.
Every bit as elegant and imposing as a Rolls-Royce or Bentley from the same era and propelled by a wonderfully smooth and lusty four-litre straight-six, this luxury Sports Saloon looks great value at the guide price suggested. Being one of only two known survivors, it is sure to be warmly welcomed at any classic event and is no doubt capable of winning many more trophies should the fortunate new owner feel so inclined.
For more information contact James on 07970 309907 or email email@example.com
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