Founded by John
Marston in 1901, a sheet metal worker who built up the company Sunbeamland to manufacture bicycles. Marston allowed his apprentice Thomas Cureton to tinker with prototype
cars, the resulting Sunbeam
Mabley of 1901 being a curious cross between car and motorcycle, the four wheels being set in a diamond formation. Soon taken over by businessman T.T. Pullinger, by 1907 the company was manufacturing the Angus Shaw designed 16/20, along with the 12/16 tourers.
They quickly found success in competition work, the company expanding to a 30 acre site by the end of World War 1. In 1920 it merged with Talbot to form STD motors, allowing Sunbeam
to use the far superior overhead cam Talbot engines, these being used to create record breaking racers - including Malcolm Campbell's
V12 car, which set a new Land Speed Record in 1924. The STD combine would fall upon hard times, and Sunbeam
turned to the manufacture of trolleybuses, however in the early post war years it again turned to the manufacture of automobiles, the highlights being the beautiful 1959 Alpine, and potent V8 equipped Tiger.
This unusual product of the Rootes Group arrived in Australia in open form in 1954
, based on the closed and open Sunbeam-Talbot, which had been on sale since the early 1950s. The Alpine Series I convertible ran from 1960
, the Series II to 1962
and the Series III to 1963
. The Series IV ran until 1967
, followed by the Rapier which stayed in production (in open form) until 1976
. The convertibles are the pick of the bunch, and have enjoyed increasing popularity over the last 20 years. And with popularity comes high prices.
Also see: Lost Marques:
| The History of Sunbeam (USA Edition)