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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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