Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was a British motor car manufacturer with its works at Moorfield inWolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire —now West Midlands.
|Public Listed Company|
|Fate||presumed liquidated 1967|
|Founded||1905; 111 years ago inWolverhampton, Staffordshire,England|
|John Marston, Louis Coatalen|
Its Sunbeam name had been registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901. The motor business was sold to a newly incorporated Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited in 1905 to separate it from Marston's bicycle business.
In-house designer Coatalen's enthusiasm for motor-racing accumulated expertise with engines. Engines drew Sunbeam into Grand Prix racing and participation in the achievement of world land speed records. Sunbeam manufactured their own aero engines during the First World War and 647 aircraft to the designs of other manufacturers.
It had been a successful business but by 1934 an old-fashioned product range and a long period of very slow sales had incurred continuing losses. There was a forced sale of Sunbeam to the Rootes brothers and car manufacture did not resume. Rootes had intended to sell luxury cars under the Sunbeam name but nearly four years later in 1938 the two brothers instead chose to add the name Sunbeam to their Talbot branded range of Rootes designs calling them Sunbeam-Talbots. In 1954 they dropped the word Talbot leaving just Sunbeam.
Sunbeam's name continued to appear on new cars in 1982 under the ownership of Peugeot or Groupe PSA.
John Marston engineer
John Marston was apprenticed to the Jeddo Works of Wolverhampton as a japanner (metal lacquerer). In 1859, at the age of 23, he bought two tinplate manufacturers and set up on his own as John Marston Limited. Marston was an avid cyclist; and, in 1877, he set up the Sunbeamland Cycle Factory, producing bikes known as Sunbeams. Between 1899 and 1901, the company also produced a number of experimental cars, but none was offered to the market.
The first production car named as a Sunbeam was introduced in 1901, after a partnership with Maxwell Maberley-Smith. The Sunbeam-Mabley design was an odd one, with seats on either side of a belt-drive powered by a single-cylinder engine of less than 3 hp (2.2 kW). The design was a limited success, with 420 sold at £130 when production ended in 1904 (source?? Other sources state 130 made). At that point the company started production of a Thomas Pullinger–designed car based on the Berliet mechanicals. They introduced a new model, based on a Peugeot motor they bought for study, in 1906 and sold about 10 a week.
Sunbeam Motor Car Company
In January 1905, the Sunbeam Motor Car Company Ltd was formed to purchase and thereby separate motor cars and their Villiers Street Works from the rest of the John Marston business which retained Sunbeam Cycles. Six years later after several further issues of shares to provide capital for greater expansion there was a (technically) public offer of ordinary and preference shares to Sunbeam agents and their customers representing a small part of the company's capital.
Twelve months later in January 1912 its shares were listed on the London Stock Exchange.
The Breton car designer, Louis Coatalen, joined the company from Hillman-Coatalen in 1909, and became chief designer. He soon reorganised production such that almost all parts were built by the company, as opposed to relying on outside suppliers. He quickly introduced his first design, the Sunbeam 14/20, their first to use a shaft-driven rear axle, upgrading it in 1911 with a slightly larger engine as the 16/20.
Sunbeam made a small number of Veterans, and by 1912 were making conventional, high-quality cars. Direct competitors to Rolls Royce, Sunbeams were considered to be a car for those who thought an RR a little ostentatious.
Coatalen was particularly fond of racing as a way to drive excellence within the company, noting that "Racing improves the breed". After designing the 14/20, he started the design of advanced high-power engines, combining overhead valves with a pressurised oil lubrication system. In 1910 he built his first dedicated land-speed-record car, the Sunbeam Nautilus, powered by a 4.2-litre version of this engine design. The Nautilus implemented a number of early streamlining features, known as "wind cutting" at the time, but the custom engine suffered various problems and the design was eventually abandoned. The next year he introduced the Sunbeam Toodles II, featuring an improved valve system that turned it into a success. Coatalen won 22 prizes in Toodles II at Brooklands in 1911, and also achieved a flying mile of 86.16 mph (138.66 km/h) to take the 16 hp Short Record. Sunbeam cars powered by more conventional (for the time) side-valve engines featured prominently in the 1911 Coupé de l'Auto race, and improved versions won first, second and third the next year. Sunbeams continued to race over the next few years, but the company had moved on to other interests.
Coatalen also designed a number of passenger cars, notably the Sunbeam 12/16. By 1911 Sunbeam were building about 650 cars a year, making them at that time a major manufacturer.
First World War
Starting in 1912 they had also branched out into aircraft engines, introducing a series of engines that were not particularly successful commercially. Coatalen seemed to be convinced that the proper solution to any engine requirement was a design for those exact specifications, instead of producing a single engine and letting the aircraft designers build their aircraft around it. Their most numerous designs were the troublesome V8 Sunbeam Arab, which was ordered in quantity in 1917 but suffered from continual vibration and reliability problems and only saw limited service, and the more successful V12 Sunbeam Cossack. Meanwhile, Coatalen continued to experiment with ever-more odd designs such as the star-layout Sunbeam Malay, which never got beyond a prototype, the air-cooled Sunbeam Spartanand the diesel-powered Sunbeam Pathan. The company was fairly successful with the introduction of newer manufacturing techniques, however, and was one of the first to build aluminium single-block engines, a design that would not become common until the 1930s.
During the First World War, the company built motorcycles, trucks, and ambulances. The company also participated in the Society of British Aircraft Constructorspool, who shared aircraft designs with any companies that could build them. Acting in this role, they produced 15 Short Bombers powered by their own Sunbeam Gurkha engines, 20 Short Type 827s, 50 Short 310s, and others including Avro 504 trainers; they even designed their own Sunbeam Bomber, which lost to a somewhat simpler Sopwith design. Sunbeam had produced 647 aircraft of various types by the time the lines shut down in early 1919.
S.T.D. Motors Limited was first incorporated in London in 1905 at that time bearing the name A Darracq and Company (1905) Limited. Following the first World War, in 1920, Darracq bought control of Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited. All businesses retained their separate identities. The Sunbeam car would continue to be made at Moorfield Works, Wolverhampton and the Darracq car at Suresnes with central buying, selling, administration and advertising departments with S T D in Britain In 1919 Darracq and Company London bought the London-based firm of Clément-Talbot. In June 1920 Darracq and Company London bought Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited. On August 13, 1920 Darracq and company London changed its name to S T D Motors Limited. The initials represented Sunbeam, Talbot and Darracq.
S T D Motors Limited group in 1924
Clement-Talbot Limited: Talbot cars
Darracq Motor Engineering Company Limited: motorcar bodies
Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited: Sunbeam cars
Jonas Woodhead & Sons Limited: automobile springs
Automobiles Talbot SA: Talbot cars (until 1921 named Automobiles Darracq SA: Darracq cars)
Darracq Proprietary Company Limited: held those French assets not held by Automobiles Talbot SA
W & G Du Cros Limited: Yellow Taxi-cabs, charabanc and bus bodies, motorcar bodies and assembly of French-sourced Talbot components for sale in the British market as Darracq-Talbot cars.
Heenan & Froude Limited, constructional engineers
Cars made by Talbot SA (Automobiles Talbot) imported from France to England were renamed Darracq to avoid confusion with the English Talbot products.
In addition to quality limousine, saloon and touring cars, Coatalen was pleased to build racing cars for Henry Segrave—who won the French and Spanish GPs in 1923/4. In 1921 Segrave participated in his first ever Grand Prix on Talbot no.10, in effect a re-badged 1921 Grand Prix Sunbeam; this important straight eight dohc, four valve per cylinder aluminium block car influenced by the great designer Ernest Henry proceeded to win the 1922 Tourist Trophy in the hands of Jean Chassagne. A different team of 2-litre dohc 1922 Grand Prix Sunbeams designed by Ernest Henry were entered in that year’s French Grand Prix.
He also built a Brooklands racer with a purpose-built V12 18.3 litre engine whose design was a hybrid of the Sunbeam Manitou and the Sunbeam Arab aero engines. This engine had four blocks of three cylinders arranged in two banks set at 60 degrees (unlike the Arab which were set at 90 degrees). Each cylinder had one inlet and two exhaust valves actuated by a single overhead camshaft. The two camshafts were driven by a complex set of 16 gears from the front of the crankshaft - a very similar arrangement to that used on the Maori engine which had two OHC per bank of cylinders. This famous car (Sunbeam 350HP) established three Land Speed Records - the first achieved by Kenelm Lee Guinness at Brooklands in 1922 with a speed of 133.75 mph. Malcolm Campbell then purchased the car, had it painted in his distinctive colour scheme, named it Blue Bird and in September 1924 achieved a new record speed of 146.16 mph at Pendine Sands in South Wales, raising it the following year to 150.76 mph. The same year Coatalen's new 3 litre Super Sports came 2nd at Le Mans—beating Bentley—this was the first production twin-cam car in the world. In 1926 Segrave captured the LSR in a new 4 litre V12 Sunbeam racer originally named Ladybird and later renamed Tiger. Coatalen decided to re-enter the LSR field himself, building the truly gigantic Sunbeam 1000HP powered by two 450 hp (340 kW) Matabele engines. On 29 March 1927 the car captured the speed record at 203.792 mph (327.971 km/h). The car is now at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, UK.
Sunbeam's great era was really the 1920s under Coatalen's leadership with very well engineered, high quality, reliable cars — and a great reputation on the track.
A later land speed record attempt, the 1930 Silver Bullet, failed to achieve either records, or the hoped-for advances in aero engines. It is now almost forgotten. Sunbeam did not really survive the depression and in 1935 went into receivership and was sold to Lord Rootes. The last true Sunbeam was made in 1935. The new entry model "Dawn" was a typical mid-1930s design with independent front suspension whereas other models, the 18.2HP and Speed 20 were based on Vintage designs and qualify as PVT under VSCC rules.
Coatalen's obsession with improvement meant that there were numerous small changes in models from year to year. Therefore, although his designs are basically similar, few parts are interchangeable.
In the Vintage period, typically two models dominated production volumes at each period:
- 1920–24 16 hp, 16/40, 24 hp, 24/60 & 24/70 all based on pre-war designs.
- 1922–23 14 hp The first highly successful post-war 4-cylinder.
- 1924 12/30 & 16/50 only produced in small numbers.
- 1924–26 14/40 and big brother 20/60 developed from 14 hp with 2 more cylinders added.
- 1926–30 3 litre Super Sports, highly successful and much coveted, the first production twin OHC car in the world.
- 1926–30 16 hp (16.9) & 20 hp (20.9). Two new designs with six-cylinder integral cast iron block and crankcase. Both were reliable capable cars produced over many years, (20.9) with a 3-litre engine producing 70 BHP is noted for its performance and is well respected as a practical and reliable touring car. It has many shared components with the 3-litre Super Sports (brakes, suspension, steering, axles, gearbox, transmission).
- 1926–32 20/60 developed into 25 hp with bore increased from 75 to 80 mm. A few 8-cylinder cars produced in this period, 30 hp & 35 hp.
- 1930–32 16 hp bore increased from 67 to 70 mm, (16.9 to 18.2 hp).
- 1931–33 New model 20 hp introduced with 80 mm bore and 7 main bearings rated at 23.8 hp. Very smooth and powerful engine.
- 1933 18.2 hp engine installed in Speed 20 chassis and renamed 'Twenty'.
- 1933–34 20.9 hp engine resurrected with improved exhaust manifold and downdraught carb installed in new cruciform braced chassis for the Speed 20. Highly desirable and fast touring model especially the 1934 body style.
- 1933–35 Twenty-Five introduced with modified 1931–33 23.8 hp engine.
- 1934 Twenty given the 20.9 engine in place of the 18.2.
- 1934–35 Dawn introduced. 12.8 hp (9.5 kW) engine and IFS. Nice little car but not a great success.
- 1935 Speed 20 renamed Sports 21 with redesigned body style.
- 1935 Sports 21 given a high compression version of Twenty-Five engine.
In 1946 soon after the end of the Second World War J. Brockhouse and Co Limited of West Bromwich, the engineering group, bought Sunbeam Commercial Vehicles but in September 1948 sold the trolley-bus part of the business to Guy Motors Limited. who built Sunbeam trolleybuses at their factory until the last was completed in 1964.Financial difficulties arose in the early years of the Great Depression and just before the opening of the October 1934 Earls Court Motor Show an application was made to the Court for an appointment of a receiver and manager for the two major subsidiaries of S T D, Sunbeam and Automobiles Talbot France. Clément-Talbot remained profitable and was sold to the Rootes brothers. It proved impossible for the directors to avoid the appointment of a receiver to Sunbeam Motor Car Company and S T D was unable to complete its sale to Rootes. However six months later in July 1935 Rootes Securities announced they had bought Sunbeam Motor Car Company and its subsidiary Sunbeam Commercial Vehicles. Car production was terminated but trolleybus production continued. Karrier's trolley-bus business was moved from Huddersfield to Moorfield (not Luton with other Karrier operations) and combined with Sunbeam but the same Karrier designs were to be produced. During wartime the factory produced the only trolleybus available in the UK; a four-wheeled double decker known as either the Karrier or Sunbeam W4.
The former Talbot plant in France was bought by the manager of the Suresnes plant Antonio Lago who from 1935 produced luxury cars badged Talbot-Lago.
Sunbeam as a badge for other manufacturers
Rootes was an early proponent of badge engineering, building a single mass-produced chassis and equipping it with different body panels and interiors to fit different markets. They ended production of existing models at all the new companies, replacing them with designs from Hillman and Humber that were more amenable to mass production.
Although Rootes' intention had been to continue the Sunbeam name on a large and expensive luxury car, the eight-cylinder Sunbeam 30, after almost four years it was announced Sunbeam Motors and Clement-Talbot were now combined under the ownership of Clement Talbot Limited —since renamed Sunbeam-Talbot Limited— and would produce good quality cars at reasonable prices. During 1937 Humber Limited bought Clement Talbot Limited and Sunbeam Motors Limited from Rootes Securities Limited.
In 1938 Rootes created a new marque called Sunbeam-Talbot which combined the quality Talbot coachwork and the current Hillman and Humber chassis and was assembled at the Talbot factory in London. The initial two models were the Sunbeam-Talbot 10 and the 3-litre followed by the Sunbeam-Talbot 2 Litre and 4 litre models based on the earlier models only with different engines and longer wheelbases. Production of these models continued after the war until 1948.
In the summer of 1948, the Sunbeam-Talbot 80 and Sunbeam-Talbot 90 were introduced, with a totally new streamlined design with flowing front fenders (wings). The 80 used the Hillman Minx-based engine with ohv and the 90 utilised a modified version of the Humber Hawk with ohv. The car bodies were manufactured by another Rootes Group company, British Light Steel Pressings of Acton, however the convertible drophead coupé shells were completed by Thrupp & Maberlycoachbuilders in Cricklewood. The underpowered 80 was discontinued in 1950. The 90 was renamed the 90 Mark II and then the 90 Mark IIA and eventually in 1954 the Sunbeam Mark III, finally dropping the Talbot name. With the model name changes, the headlights were raised on the front fenders and an independent coil front suspension and the engine displacement went from 1944 cc to 2267 cc with a high compression head and developing 80 bhp (60 kW; 81 PS).
There was one more model of the Sunbeam-Talbot that appeared in 1953 in the form of an Alpine, a two-seater sports roadster which was initially developed by a Sunbeam-Talbot dealer George Hartwell in Bournemouth as a one-off rally car that had its beginnings as a 1952 drophead coupé. It was named supposedly by Norman Garrad, (works Competition Department) who was heavily involved in the Sunbeam-Talbot successes in the Alpine Rally in the early 1950s using the Saloon model. The Alpine Mark I and Mark III (a Mark II was never made) were hand built like the Drophead Coupé at Thrupp & Maberly coachbuilders from 1953 to 1955 when production ceased after close to 3000 were produced. It has been estimated that perhaps only 200 remain in existence today. The Talbot name was dropped in 1954 for the Sunbeam Alpine sports car, making Sunbeam the sports-performance marque. In 1955 a Sunbeam saloon won the Monte Carlo Rally. Production ceased in 1956 and was replaced by the sporty Sunbeam Rapier.
In 1959 a totally new Alpine was introduced, and the 1955 Rapier (essentially a badge-engineered Hillman Minx) was upgraded. After several successful series of the Alpine were released, director of US West-Coast operations, Ian Garrad, became interested in the success of the AC Cobra, which mounted a small-block V-8 engine in the small AC Ace frame to create one of the most successful sports cars of all time. Garrad became convinced the Alpine frame could also be adapted the same way, and contracted Carroll Shelby to prototype such a fit with a Ford engine. The result was the Sunbeam Tiger, released in 1964, which went on to be a huge success.
But at this point, Rootes was in financial trouble. Talks with Leyland Motors went nowhere, so in 1964, 30 percent of the company (along with 50 percent of the non-voting shares) was purchased by Chrysler, who was attempting to enter the European market. Ironically, Chrysler had purchased Simca the year earlier, who had earlier purchased Automobiles Talbot, originally the British brand that had been merged into STD Motors many years earlier.
Chrysler's experience with the Rootes empire appears to have been an unhappy one. Models were abandoned over the next few years while they tried to build a single brand from the best models of each of the company's components, but for management, "best" typically meant "cheapest to produce," which was at odds with the former higher-quality Rootes philosophy. Brand loyalty started to erode, and was greatly damaged when they decided to drop former marques and start calling everything a Chrysler. The Tiger was dropped in 1967 after an abortive attempt to fit it with a Chrysler engine, and theHillman Imp–derived Stiletto disappeared in 1972.
The last Sunbeam produced was the "Rootes Arrow" series Alpine/Rapier fastback (1967–76), after which Chrysler, who had purchased Rootes, disbanded the marque. The Hillman (by now Chrysler) Hunter, on which they were based, soldiered on until 1978. A Hillman Avenger-derived hatchback, the Chrysler Sunbeam, maintained the name as a model, rather than a marque, from 1978 to the early 1980s, with the very last models sold as Talbot Sunbeams. The remains of Chrysler Europe were purchased by Peugeot and Renault in 1978, and the name has not been used since.
Sunbeam Moorfield Wolverhampton cars
- 1901–04 Sunbeam Mabley
- 1902-03 Sunbeam rear entrance Tonneau
- 1903–10 Sunbeam 12 hp
- 1904-05 Sunbeam side entrance Tonneau
- 1905–11 Sunbeam 16/20 and 25/30
- 1908 Sunbeam 20
- 1908–09 Sunbeam 35
- 1909 Sunbeam 16
- 1909–15 Sunbeam 14/20, 16/20, and 20
- 1910–11 Sunbeam 12/16
- 1911–15 Sunbeam 18/22, 25/30 and 30
- 1912–15 Sunbeam 12/16 and 16
- 1912–14 Sunbeam 16/20
- 1919–21 Sunbeam 16/40
- 1919–24 Sunbeam 24, 24/60 and 24/70
- 1922–23 Sunbeam 14 and 14/40
- 1923–26 Sunbeam 20/60
- 1924–33 Sunbeam 16 (16.9 and 18.2)
- 1925–30 Sunbeam 3 litre Super Sports (Twin Cam)
- 1926–32 Sunbeam Long 25
- 1927–30 Sunbeam 20 (20.9)
- 1930–33 Sunbeam 20 (23.8)
- 1933–35 Sunbeam Speed Twenty
- 1934–35 Sunbeam Twenty
- 1934–35 Sunbeam Twenty-Five
- 1934–35 Sunbeam Dawn
Sunbeam badged cars
Sunbeam Kensington London cars
- 1936–37 Sunbeam 30
- 1938–48 Sunbeam-Talbot Ten
- 1939–48 Sunbeam-Talbot Two Litre
- 1938–40 Sunbeam-Talbot Three Litre
- 1939–40 Sunbeam-Talbot Four Litre
- 1938–48 Sunbeam-Talbot Ten
- 1939–48 Sunbeam-Talbot Two Litre
Sunbeam Ryton-on-Dunsmore cars
- 1948–50 Sunbeam-Talbot 80
- 1948–54 Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Marks I, II & IIA
- 1954–57 Sunbeam 90 Mark III
- 1953–55 Sunbeam Alpine Mark I
- 1955–67 Sunbeam Rapier Series I, II, III, IIIA, IV & V
- 1959–68 Sunbeam Alpine Series I, II, III, III, IV & V
- 1963–64 Sunbeam Venezia by Carrozzeria Touring
- 1964–67 Sunbeam Tiger
- 1966–76 Sunbeam Imp Sport
- 1967–72 Sunbeam Stiletto
- 1967–76 Sunbeam Rapier Fastback & Sunbeam Alpine Fastback
Ryton-on-Dunsmore export-only cars
- Sunbeam Minx
- Sunbeam Vogue/Sunbeam Arrow
- Sunbeam Funwagon/Sunbeam Highwayman
Chrysler Europe cars
- 1977–81 Talbot Sunbeam
- 1979–81 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
- 1982–82 Sunbeam Lotus-Horizon
Commercial vehicles Wolverhampton
Double decker buses
- Sikh 1930–33 (three built)
- Pathan 1930–1938 (at least four built for Woverhampton Corp)
- DF2 1936–1948 (one built for Wolverhampton Corp)
Double decker trolleybus
- MS2 1934–1948
- MS3 1934–1948
- MF1 1934–1949
- MF2 1935–1952
- W4 1943–1947
- F4/F4A 1948–1965
- S7/S7A 1948–58
Double or single deck trolleybus
- MF2B 1934–65
Brisbane City Council (Australia) imported Sunbeam single-deck trolleybus chassis 1951 - 1960. All withdrawn by 1969.
Sunbeam-Coatalen aero engines
Sunbeam, Wolverhampton, England, started to build aircraft engines in 1912. Louis Coatalen joined Sunbeam as chief engineer in 1909, having previously been Chief Engineer at the Humber works in Coventry. The company quickly became one of the UK's leading engine manufacturers and even designed an aircraft of its own. Sunbeam discontinued the production of aero engines after Coatalen left the company in the 1930s.
- Sunbeam Crusader V8, 150 hp (110 kW)
- Sunbeam Zulu V8, 160 hp (120 kW), developed from Crusader
- Sunbeam Mohawk V12, 225 hp (168 kW)
- Sunbeam Gurkha V12, 240 hp (180 kW), developed from Maori
- Sunbeam Cossack V12, 320 hp (240 kW), 18.4 litres
- Sunbeam Nubian V8, 155 hp (116 kW), 7.7 litres
- Sunbeam Afridi V12, 200 hp (150 kW), 11.476 litres
- Sunbeam Maori V12, 250 hp (190 kW), 14.7 litres, developed from Afridi
- Sunbeam Amazon Straight-6, 160 hp (120 kW), 9.2 litres, developed from Cossack
- Sunbeam Saracen Straight-6, 200 hp (150 kW), 11.2 litres, developed from Amazon
- Sunbeam Viking W18 "Broad Arrow" 450 hp (340 kW), 33.6 litres, developed from Cossack
- Sunbeam Arab V8, 200 hp (150 kW), 11.8 litres
- Sunbeam Bedouin inverted V8, 200 hp (150 kW), 12.3 litres, developed from Arab
- Sunbeam Manitou V12, 325 hp (242 kW), 14.7 litres, developed from Maori
- Sunbeam Tartar V12, 300 hp (220 kW), 15.4 litres
- Sunbeam Kaffir W12 "Broad Arrow" 300 hp (220 kW), developed from Arab, 18.3 litres
- Sunbeam Spartan V12, 200 hp (150 kW), 14 litres, air-cooled
- Sunbeam Matabele V12, 400 hp (300 kW), 22.4 litres, developed from Cossack
- Sunbeam Malay Five-pointed star arrangement of 20 cylinders, 500 hp (370 kW), 29.4 litres
- Sunbeam Pathan Straight-6, 100 hp (75 kW), 8.8 litres, diesel
- Sunbeam Dyak Straight-6, 100 hp (75 kW), 8.8 litres
- Sunbeam Sikh V12, 800 hp (600 kW), 64.1 litres
- Sunbeam Sikh II
- Sunbeam Sikh III
- Sunbeam 2,000hp