May 21, 2000
Sunbeam Alpine Sports
Despite the name,
which may strike one as a bit light weight in these modern times,
Sunbeam cars had a dramatic and significant part in automotive
history and competition. The company just had it's centenary this
year, and I believe it was a Sunbeam car that first exceeded 100
mph. The 1,000 hp Sunbeam "beach racer" shown above
and dubbed "The Ladybird" was the first automobile of
any kind to exceed 200mph in 1927. Eat your hearts out Lambo and
Ferrari drivers. But all that's outside the scope of this page
on the Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine.
The Sunbeam name and
assets eventually came into the Rootes Group , and at the bottom
of it, the Rootes brothers were not particularly keen on racing.
It was expensive, and with this car, perhaps of limited potential
for success. However, they did recognize that successful competition
was a solid plank in any advertising campaign and since they had
been successful in such events as the Rallye des Alpes
with other Sunbeam models it was a natural to use these venues
to promote the Alpines. These competitions were seen as (and were)
grueling events which tested the machines and drivers to the limit,
but were not so expensive to enter (nor as demanding of top speeds
and acceleration). The factory made an all out effort for these
international events, and assembled a remarkable team of drivers
and carefully prepared a stable of cars.
With the likes of a
young Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Mike Hawthorne, Shiela van
Damm and other drivers destined for greatness, the factory cars
accumulated an impressive record of wins. With that line up I
believe they could have won in kiddy cars!
Here is a little
promototional piece put out by the Rootes brothers upon introduction
of the Sports.
Stirling Moss and Sheila van Damm
tested a specially factory prepared Alpine at Jabbeke in Belgium,
each exceeding 120 mph (193 kph). As I remember Shiela actually
had a slightly higher two way average than Stirling to. Hey maybe
this is more of a womans car! :~)
Believe it or not,
a Sunbeam Alpine Sports is often seen in vintage racing! . Here are three views all taken by Bob Hamilton
at the 1997? Laguna Seca Historic Races. This is Jeff Tamkin in
his '55 He has also raced the car at the Wine Country in May 97
at Sears Point and also the CA
Mille in May 98.
etc.I'm not sure what
contemporary racing history (as opposed to the substantial rallying
history) these cars actually had but would be glad to post anything
any one cares to send in.