Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Sports*


(last modified 5 -20-00)

There are lots of pages and information on the so-called "series" Sunbeam Alpines (of the type introduced in 1959 and driven by "Maxwell Smart" for instance) but this isn't one of them. Nothing against them of course, or any of the other wonderful Sunbeam cars, but this page is devoted to just one particular model, the original Alpine Sports roadster built from 1953-1955 ( driven by Grace Kelly in "To Catch a Thief"....beginning to see the difference?)

The Rootes boys further complicated the already tangled Sunbeam/Talbot/Darraq etc. marque name problem by dropping the "Talbot" in 1954, smack in the middle of the production run of this car."Talbot" was dropped in England and the Continent because it conflicted with the unhyphenated Talbots then being produced and raced in France and which were just coming to the end of their competitiveness at Le Mans (thanks to the C Type Jaguar).

"Talbot" was apparently never applied to this model in the first place; it was introduced as the "Sunbeam Alpine Sports". ( Certainly the later 'Series' cars should not be called Sunbeam-TALBOT, as the Talbot was clearly dropped before their introduction.) At any rate when 'Sunbeam Alpine' is mentioned these days, it's the Series cars which usually come to mind.

So, we really need a distinctive name for the car to distinguish it from the Series cars. Bob Hamilton just calls them "proper Alpines" without regard to the factory. Some others have taken the word "Supreme" off the grille badge and use it to distinguish the cars. I think "Supreme Sunbeam" (Or Sunbeam Supreme Sunbeam as it actually appears) is a little contrived. The grille badge on these earlier cars does say "Supreme", but it seems more an adjective than a noun to me. There was no Sunbeam "Supreme" in the sense that there was a Buick "Century" say. The noun/model name for the car was "Alpine" I think we can all agree on that much. To further confuse things and correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the crest on that same badge, the hubcaps and the steering wheel a Talbot crest? (An English not French family BTW). The semi-rampant animal with the high flying tail is a DOG if you can believe it, not a lion! (Undoubtedly this confusion is a deliberate ruse on the part of the Talbot graphic artists as it successfully escaped notice from the TR-2 and Austin Healy 100-4 drivers who zoomed by our dignified princess and would surely have made some crack about it that would have stuck through the years. Someone points out that the shop manual says "Sunbeam-Talbot" right on the cover...but then someone else points out that it covers several models... But then someone says his '54 has "ST" molded into the pedal rubber...on and on.

We could call them the "Mark" Alpines (again the diabolical Rootes' had a Mark I and a Mark III, but no Mark II. Sigh.) But I think we must assume that the factory wanted this car to be known as the "Alpine Sports"...Here for instance is a quote from the opening paragraph of a contemporary road test (sorry, can't ID the magazine: might be R&T)

"Appropriately enough. the name "Alpine Sports" has been chosen for the new model, based on the many successes of the marque in that famous 2000 mile rally."

You'd think that would be dispositive, but the article identifies the manufacturing company/marque as the "Sunbeam-Talbot" Company, so, one might logically say it is a Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Sports...but then the

Finally, I guess if we can actually establish that the car came out and was marketed as the Sunbeam Alpine "Sports" that would give us a distinguishing name...but certainly not as distinguished as Sunbeam-Talbot, a "classy" hyphenated name which the PR types at Lowey would have known instinctively would appeal to the American sense of insecurity :~) ( and maybe slightly defuse the obvious confusion with the millions of the then current mix masters, electric razors, coffee pots, pancake grilles and toasters?).

Well, let's get on with it...Until someone comes up with a better analysis, I'll call this model the Sunbeam Alpine Sports. Send me any pictures or materials, or if you would like to be linked to get email from visitors to the page etc.



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