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Manufacturers / U.K. / Sunbeam

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Sunbeam vehicles


Sunbeam Mabley   (1901)

John Marston, a sheet metalworker, started the Sunbeamland Cycle Factory in Wolverhampton in 1887. In 1889 another family member set up the Villiers Engineering Company. Using the Villiers premises the Marstons experimented with motorcars. 1901 saw a twin-cylinder car powered by a Forman engine but production cars had a De Dion engine and were known as Sunbeam Mabley. This car had its wheels in a diamond layout. (The front and rear had offset single wheels, with a wheel centrally at each side belt driven by the exposed engine). The seating was also unusual in its "chaise-longue" style with the rear-seated driver looking over the passengers shoulder. The company became Sunbeam in 1905.

From 1903 more conventional cars were produced, including two, four and six-cylinder models. Both before and after The Great War Sunbeam entered cars with great success in many races and trials.

During the First War Sunbeam made ambulances and both aero and naval engines, including those for airships.


Sunbeam 14   (1922)

K Lee Guinness took the Land Speed Record to 133.75 mph (215 kph) at Brooklands in 1922 using an aero-engined 18.3 litre V-12 car built in 1920 that had already been successful in hill climbs. Malcolm Campbell bought the car and set a speed op 136.31 mph (219 kph) on a beach in Denmark, although the record was later disallowed. In 1924 with revised bodywork in blue, "Bluebird" another attempt was to made in Denmark, and in 1925 Campbell achieved 146.16 mph (235 kph) at Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire, raising the record again in 1926 to 150.76 mph (243 kph). This car now resides in the National Motor Museum.

Shortly after war and John Marston's death Sunbeam became part of the group that included Talbot, Darracq and various commercial vehicle makers (STD Motors Ltd.).


Sunbeam Speed 20   (1933)

By the early 1930's Sunbeam were in trouble and in 1931 the whole board resigned, and a large debt in 1934 stalled any revival plans. The Rootes brothers took over the company the following year. Rootes revived the Sunbeam name in 1938 as a form of "badge engineering".


Sunbeam 80 - 90   (1950)

After Rootes took over the Sunbeam concern in 1935 the cars became essentially versions of the Hillman Minx and Humber Snipe and from 1938 were known as Sunbeam-Talbots's.

After the war the pre-war 10 and two-litre models were reintroduced and continued in production until 1948 when they were restyled and named the 80 and 90. In 1950 the 80 was discontinued and in 1952 the MkIIA was the last model to be sold as a Sunbeam-Talbot as in 1953 all cars became Sunbeams.

The Hillman Minx Californian body was used in 1955 to produce the Rapier series. The Rapier development was similar to that of the Minx.

Sunbeam Alpine  concept (1953)

The Alpine name was reintroduced in 1959 as a sports car. This was the Hillman Husky with Rapier mechanical components in a sports body shell.

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