Sunbeam Alpine MK3

Herman Deroost

1955

The Sunbeam Alpine is a two-seater sports drophead coupé produced by Rootes Group from 1953 to 1955, and then 1959 to 1968. The name was then used on a two-door fastback from 1969 to 1975. The original Alpine was launched in 1953 as the first vehicle from Sunbeam-Talbot to bear the Sunbeam name alone since Rootes Group bought Clément-Talbot, and later the moribund Sunbeam from its receiver in 1935.

Alpine Mark I and III

The Alpine was derived from the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Saloon, and has become colloquially known as the “Talbot” Alpine. It was a two-seater sports roadster initially developed for a one-off rally car by Bournemouth Sunbeam-Talbot dealer George Hartnell. It had its beginnings as a 1952 Sunbeam-Talbot drophead coupé. Announced in March 1953 it received its name following Sunbeam-Talbot saloons successes in the Alpine Rally during the early 1950s. On its first competitive outing, the July 1953 Coupe des Alpes, the new car won the Coupe des Dames (Sheila van Damm) and, without loss of any marks, four Coupes des Alpes driven by Stirling Moss, John Fitch, G Murray-Frame and Sheila van Damm.

The car has a four-cylinder 2,267 cc (138.3 cu in) engine from the saloon, but with a raised compression ratio. However, since it was developed from the saloon platform, it suffered from rigidity compromises despite extra side members in the chassis. The gearbox ratios were changed, and from 1954 an overdrive unit became standard. The gearchange lever was column-mounted. A true open 2-seater, there were no external door handles or wind-up windows.

The Alpine Mark I and Mark III (no Mark II was made) were hand-built – as was the 90 drophead coupé – at Thrupp & Maberly coachbuilders from 1953 to 1955, and remained in production for only two years. Of the 1582 automobiles produced, 961 were exported to the USA and Canada, 445 stayed in the UK, and 175 went to other world markets. In 2000 it was estimated that perhaps as few as 200 had survived.

Very few of these cars are ever seen on the big screen. However, a sapphire blue Alpine featured prominently in the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock film To Catch a Thief starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. More recently, the American PBS show History Detectives tried to verify that an Alpine roadster owned by a private individual was the actual car used in that movie. Although the Technicolor process could “hide” the car’s true colour, and knowing that the car was shipped back from Monaco to the USA for use in front of a rear projection effect, the car shown on the programme was ultimately proven not to be the film car upon comparison of the vehicle identification numbers. A Mk.I model also appears in the 1957 British horror film Night Of The Demon.

Please come and see the car, she is located with us at our premises. Since we are collectors and not sellers please contact us before you come over. Just to make sure we are there and not cruising around.

If you want to see additional pictures, please ask what pictures you want. We will take them and send them to you.

About this car

This car has a magnificent line and is graceful in all its aspects. A two-seater convertible that is stylish top down or not. Driving this beauty makes you feel like … A real head turner. Beautifully preserved and the real thing for purists among us. Very strong and healthy engine with a terrific sound. Simply, … it makes you smile.

Since this car is in the collection for quite some time, we consider searching a new home for her.

On the outside

On the outside we cannot stress the bodyline enough. This car has had a respray some years ago with respect to originality. The chrome is in excellent condition and fitted correctly onto the body. The current keepers have fitted white wall tires giving that extra even more. The paint is good but shows some imperfections. The body panels all fit well with respect of the gaps. All components are there, lights, glass, etc and in good condition. All doors, bonnet skirts and boot are opening and closing very well. All rubbers are in very good condition.

On the inside

As this is a two-seater convertible the looks of the dash board catches your eye. The steering wheel shows that it is there for quite some time. The previous owners decided to leave it this way and we fully agree with that. IN Behind the wheel we can see a huge speedometer and dials all in working order. Left of the steering wheel there is the shifter. This is very rare since most of the steer shifters were replaced by floor shifters. The reason for that was the difficult to adjust steer shifter. This is not the only element worth mentioning. The original radio is still in place and in working order. We can, however, not guarantee the music is time period correct but at least the sound is. The rev counter in place and working accompanied with the heater down below. At the left you will find the passengers holding bar. This gives away the fact that this car has done a lot of rallies in its lifetime. Opening and closing the doors, perfectly. All removable side windows included. Starting procedure, insert the key, turn the key forty five degrees, ignition light turns on. Some dials wake up. Pull the choke to maximum, push the button and there she goes. A strong growl ready to go. Top, in very good condition, down neatly behind the seats.

Underneath

Opening the motor compartment unleashes massive four-cylinder engine known to be a very solid motor. The engine starts on the button. No surprises here. A well preserved and well-maintained engine. The exhaust is in good condition as are all other parts in this area. Brakes are good and they will do the job as they did at the time. Some play at the steering system. This is something you definitely need to sort out before taking her to the open road again. Very sound car underneath too. Very healthy chassis and all elements there are in good condition.

History

This car has been well kept over the years. The car spend some time in a museum. This explains the original condition she has today. Sadly, the museum had to close down and this lady came for sale. The previous keeper rallied the car quite a bit and kept her in a good driving condition. Because of the age of the former keepers the car came up for sale. Lucky us and probably lucky you too because we do not have the time to give her the attention she deserves.

What we think

This is an icon of motor industry, well preserved and deserving a purist to keep her in this condition for a long, long time. All in all, a head turner every time you will be on the road with her. We would like the next owner to use it and enjoy it as much as possible.

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