- Chassis # --
- Engine # --
- Rare Center-Shift Option
- Mechanically Sound
- A Nicely Restored Example And Finished In Fantastic Colors
- An Excellent Candidate For Rallying Or Touring
Originally derived from the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 sedan, the first open two-seater Sunbeam roadsters were conceived by a British dealer as rally special. Officially unveiled in 1953, the Sunbeam-Talbot Mk.1 Alpine Roadster was named as an homage to the company’s success in winter Alpine Rallies of the early 1950s. The rear-wheel-drive, hand-built Alpine Roadsters saw immediate success on the rally circuit and were piloted to multiple wins and noteworthy finishes by drivers as famed as Stirling Moss and John Fitch. The Alpine Roadsters featured a proprietary 2.2-liter OHV in-line four-cylinder engine with increased compression mated to a four-speed manual gearbox allowing the roadsters to reach speeds in excess of 100 mph. These special cars were hand-built by Thrupp and Maberly, coachbuilders by appointment to Queen Victoria and only 1582 were produced with around 1000 of these examples being sent to North America. Only a small portion of the total production is known to exist with estimates putting the total number of remaining Sunbeam-Talbot Mk.1 Alpine Roadsters at around 200 examples.
The example on offer here, chassis number — and engine number –, is a 1954 Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Roadster finished in Gunmetal with a Red interior. This MKIII roadster features a rare center shift transmission which was an option that was fitted to some cars at the time of production, however, we cannot confirm that this car was originally delivered in this specification. The odometer currently reads 9,235 although the true mileage of the vehicle is not currently known and this is more likely to be 109,235. While early history is not known. We do know this car was purchased by the current owner in 2004 in Maryland where it had been sitting for approximately 45 years covered in dust in the back of the previous owner’s (mechanic) workshop. At the time of purchase, the car was still in solid condition so the car was treated to a light sympathetic restoration which included new paint, chrome, a new interior, as well as a new top, all completed by the previous owner over the past 10 years. The mechanicals on the car were gone through in order to get the car running and driving but nothing was rebuilt unless needed. Since completion of the restoration, the car has seen minimal miles and has been stored properly. As it sits now, the car is in good driver-quality condition both cosmetically and mechanically. This Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine would make the perfect vehicle to compete in vintage rallying or touring as well as general sunny day driving and the occasional show.
body and paint
The Gunmetal Grey paint is smooth and consistent all around the car. There are a few very minor stone chips from normal use in and around the front of the car as well as on the edges of the doors, some of which have been touched up. There is also some minor cracking in the paint around the corners of the rear trunk lid, but nothing that takes away from the overall appearance of the car. The body is smooth and straight with no signs of problematic metal or other issues underneath. Panel fitment and body gaps are all relatively consistent and within tolerance. The removable soft top was replaced back in 2004 and retains good fitment and hardware cosmetics. The top stows neatly behind the seats on its tracks. There is a slight run in the paint on the soft top crossbar that sits above the windscreen when the top is in the deployed position.
glass and trim
The front windshield is clean and clear with no issues to note. The removable plastic side curtains are also in good condition, mount with ease, and slide open and shut as they should. Headlights and tail lights are in good order, clean, clear, and free of fogging or cracks. The chrome throughout the car is in great condition with excellent shine and smooth clean metal underneath. There are a few pieces of chrome work that exhibit minor pitting such as the horn grills in the front as well as some trim pieces that show a bit of waviness to the metal underneath, specifically the piece that runs the beltline of the driver's side. Most of the rubber trim appears newer and is in good supple condition, although there are a few pieces such as around the headlights that exhibit minor aging and cracking.
The wheels are finished very nicely in the same Gunmetal color as the rest of the body and topped with bright chrome center caps. The painted surfaces are consistent and smooth and the center caps have excellent shine and colorfully painted centers.
For the most part, the exterior restoration of this car remains in excellent shape however there are a few rock dings from normal use, some of which have been touched up as well as some minor cracking of the paint in the corners of the rear trunk lid.
seats and surfaces
The interior of the car is trimmed in a very nice contrasting red leather. The seats remain in great condition with minimal wear to speak of and a tight and smooth finish. The door cards fit nicely on both sides with no pulling or separation. The leather-trimmed door handle sections are a bit “lumpy” but remain clean and issue-free. The carpets retain good fitment and color with some very minor staining in high traffic areas. The exquisite art deco style dash retains good paint and smooth surface as well as nice tight, well-trimmed leather on top. The only real issue to note is that portions of the kick panels where it appears paint was laid down over the top of some rough metal, leaving the area rough and corroded looking.
functionality and accessories
The doors of the car open and close with ease and good solid shut. The steering wheel appears that it may be original still and retains good color and solid structure with the exception of a few small cracks behind the central horn button. The gauges also appear to be original and retain good clarity but do show some very minor fading and discoloration. All gauges appear to read their respective functions as they should. The unique twist dial seat adjusters located underneath each seat operate as intended. The centrally mounted shifter retains a nice clean shifter boot and moves easily through its range of motion although a bit of corrosion has shown up on the stalk. Brightwork throughout the cabin retains excellent color and finish. All buttons, knobs, pull handles, etc. appear in good cosmetic as well as mechanical condition. The tool to open the rear-mounted spare tire well is tucked away in the nicely trimmed glove box. The heater box mounted below the dash shows a bit of patina on it but remains in great condition although we have not tested the functionality of it.
The only real issue to note is that portions of the kick panels where it appears paint was laid down over the top of some rough metal, leaving the area rough and corroded looking.
engine bay and trunk
The engine bay appears properly looked after and shows no signs of any real issues. Proper tags and stampings are in their correct locations. Finishes and surfaces appear to be correct and although they are a bit rough in certain areas, show no signs of any issues cosmetic or mechanical. Hoses, wires, and tubes all appear for the most part to be solid and well looked after.
The trunk area is finished in black painted bare metal which shows some scratching and signs of usage but remains solid and free of issues. The trunk lid struts hold it firmly in the air with no issues. The jack and tools for changing out the spare are located in the trunk and appear to be of original condition.
The underside of the car appears in dry and original condition with signs of usage. The frame and floor pans all appear solid with no signs of any issues past or present. There is a slight bit of surface corrosion on suspension components etc. from normal age but everything appears in good cosmetic and mechanical condition.
This Sunbeam-Talbot Roadster remains in good running and driving condition. Although thorough testing was not carried out, the engine fires to life with a little help from the choke and settles into a smooth idle once up to temperature and off of the choke.
The transmission shifts smoothly between gears and holds power well. The clutch has solid pickup and feedback and holds good power.
brakes and suspension
Thorough testing of the car was not carried out but from our brief time behind the wheel the brakes bring the car to a smooth and controlled stop and the suspension appears to be solid and compliant.
The car wears period looking Firestone “Deluxe Champion” tires on all 4 corners. Looking at the date codes it appears that the tires were produced in 2008 and remain in great condition with plenty of tread.
The Sunbeam-Talbot roadster was designed from the beginning to be thoroughly driven, a fact that is backed up by its fantastic reputation on the 1950’s rally circuit. The little roadster handles very well given the technology of the time and makes ample power to still be a blast to drive today. This particular car has been gone through to bring both the cosmetics and the mechanicals up to a very respectable level. As they are not often seen, these little roadsters are true head turners and conversation starters and the fantastic colors of this example are sure to add to the effect. This 1954 Sunbeam-Talbot roadster is one of only a handful left in the world and would make for an excellent vehicle to do vintage rallying and tours.