Monday, April 14, 2014

Castro Valley Street Sighting - 1960 Sunbeam Alpine Series I Roadster

Sunbeam Alpines and V8 Tigers are among my favorite vintage British roadsters, so it's a treat whenever I come across one. Though, as is common with older European cars, I'm terrible at narrowing down the model year or series number without visual clues. Best I can tell, we're looking at a Series I or Series II Alpine produced between 1959 and 1962. I'd like to think it's a '62 because the Series II cars had more power and were the most popular series. A 1963 car would have had vent windows on the doors and 1964 did away with the tail fins (making the rear somewhat resemble a Triumph TR4). The Alpine was a Rootes Group parts-bin special of Hillman and Sunbeam pieces, with a '50s-fashionable body and such novelties as roll-up windows and a heater that actually worked. It was good enough that one saw duty as James Bond's car in 1962's Dr. No. Granted, it only had to outrun a hearse. Nonetheless, modified Alpines were used successfully in racing.

This Alpine has some curious things done to it. The lack of side mirrors makes me wonder if they were an option or if it's an early model. The fuel cap appears to be a late-'60s Dodge item and is not stock (despite Chrysler's later influence on Rootes Group). The Dunlop wire wheels still look good all around complete with center spinners. The removable hard top was an option on all years and this one unfortunately seems to have delaminated its rear window. The green racing stripes and guitar-playing cat are of course custom touches of indeterminate age. There's a bit of body damage but probably nothing that couldn't be pounded back straight with some patience and skill. The Sunbeam letter emblems were missing (perhaps removed for paint?) as were the front signal lenses. Maybe it's a budget 'fun car' or a restoration/race car project.

Any readers who can exactly narrow down the model year or provide more information are appreciated.


  1. Jay, my friend (RIP) had one of these little Sun Beam's that I helped him do body work and repaint in my old garage/barn years ago. I always thought it was a really cool little sports car.

  2. The white Sunbeam Alpine with the green stripe is more likely to be a Series I, due to the stubby door glass channel. A Series II channel would be about one foot taller, and much more visible. Go to Google image to see what each window channel looks like for each model.

    1. Seems you're right. So it's more likely to be a 1960 model or older?

  3. I encountered this beauty in Oakland yesterday, with my two-year-old son, who's obsessed with classic cars. He clambered up onto the front bumper to get a better look at the guitar-playing cat (which is an awesome bit of custom art). A Google image search helped me to identify it, and subsequently led me to this post. I get the feeling my son and I will be looking at your blog a lot...