78 Years of Sunbeam Talbot Alpine 1936 – 2014

HELP. I am looking for member’s photographs that I can include in the following article. There are many published photographs but with the problems of copyright, I am unable to copy them from the various publications that are available.
I am appealing to members and of course anyone interested in providing me with a suitable photograph.
Each paragraph has a dedicated number (1, 2, 3, etc) and if your car will suit the descriptive paragraph, please contact me.



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78 Years of Sunbeam Talbot 1936 – 2013


For many years Talbot and Sunbeam were synonymous with quality, luxury, sporting motoring, gaining many awards and achieving a reputation for solid reliability and speed.

Photo to show large TALBOT) (1.)


In 1935 Clement Talbot came under the control of Rootes Securities, the two brothers William and Reginald already controlling Hillman, Humber, Thrupp and Maberly coachworks and Karrier. The heavy, expensive, thirsty Talbots were becoming rapidly outdated and the market was crying out for a lighter, cheaper vehicle, Rootes had the answer.


Photo to show Hillman Aero Minx and Talbot 10 (2.)


George Roesch the Swiss engineer and chief designer at Talbot was persuaded to design the new Talbot, using as many available Rootes parts as possible. He didn’t particularly like it but came up with the Talbot 10 (10 HP), basically an updated Hillman Aero Minx. Using parts common to various models was a new idea and was to become standard practice throughout the motor industry.


Photos to show 2, 3 and 4 litre (3.)


This car continued in various guises, 10, 2, 3, and 4 litre until 1938 when Rootes officially took over Sunbeam (they had controlling interest since 1935) this was made possible due to a £500,000 guarantee note, taken out 10 years earlier by Louis Coatalen to finance his grand prix racing, becoming due. Sunbeam, unable to pay went “bust”. After some small changes the Talbot was re-introduced as the Sunbeam Talbot, this model continued until the outbrake of war when George Roesch “Mr Talbot” left Rootes never to return.


In 1945 with material in short supply, the Sunbeam Talbot  re-appeared in the same form as the pre-war car, only the price was different. Double the 1939 price, £927. 2s. 9d including purchase tax (the 3 and 4 litre disappeared mainly due to petrol rationing)


Not sure what this photo should be.

Perhaps the post war 10’s (4.)


1946 was the year that Norman Garrad, a pre-war rally driver of Roesch Talbots and now sales manager of Sunbeam Talbot, wanted to create a competition department. Unable to persuade Rootes who wanted every available car to sell, he “borrowed” a 2 litre to report on the “46 Alpine Rally for the Rootes magazine,(though he did in fact compete). This was the start of the rally team and Garrad was to become the “father” and driving force of the competition department.


Is there a photo of this Garrad Alpine car (5)


From this experience and Norman’s insistence on changes on changes the cars were improved and in 1948 two new models known as the 80 and 90 were introduced. They were basically the same chassis as the T10 with different bodies and overhead valve engines, the 80 with 1184cc and 90 with 1944cc engines. Both cars sold well although the 90 with it’s extra power sold better than the 80 which weighed almost the same (approximately 2700lb), but struggled to drag itself along with a top speed of 73 mph.


Photos of 80, 90, (6. & 7.)


Both models were entered into numerous rallies but the 90 with a top speed of 80mph fared better. In October 1950, the 80 was discontinued and the 90was uprated to 90 MkII, gaining IFS, a larger 2267 cc 70 bhp engine and a modified front end to comply with international lighting regulations.



Until 1952 the Mk II continued to perform well in the rally world. Norman Gerrad liked to take every new model on the Alpine Rally to prove it’s worth and to test it. Through this punishing treatment, lessons were learned and for the 1953 season, a new improved Mk IIa with uprated brakes, gear ratios and engine (77 hp) was introduced. The wheel spats were abandoned.


Photo of the Mk. IIa (8.)


While Sunbeam Talbot were winning rallies in “tweeked” production cars (the Garrad family called them “cooked” engines ), a Bournemouth motor dealer, George Hartwell (who had entered many rallies in his private car) was modifying the Sunbeam Talbot 4 seater coupes into 2 seater specials . By adding louvers and an air scoop to the bonnet to assist engine cooling and “cooking” the engines, he had made himself a very hot motor in which he made quite a nuisance of himself in rallies, much to the annoyance of the works drivers.


Are their photos of the Hartwell “special” (9.)


This was noticed by Garrad and in 1953 Sunbeam Talbot introduced their own 2 seater, designed by them but very much like the Hartwell “special”. This was named after the Sunbeam Talbot had so many successes in and became the very first Sunbeam Alpine. The Talbot name was dropped much to the disgust of the enthusiasts who considered Talbot synonymous with the sporting image. The prototype MWK 969 (which is still in existence and owned by a STAR member) was taken to Jabbeke highway in Belgium where Miss Sheila Van Damm drove to 120/125 mph.


Photo of MWK 969 (10.)


Once again the cars were entered in rallies making quite a name for themselves and through the comments of drivers, along with the engineers reports, the final car, bearing any resemblance to its predecessors, appeared in 1954. The Sunbeam Mk. III was basically a Mk.IIa  with an Alpine engine and transmission, new large chrome air intake grills, small portholes on the wings and with added comfort inside. These changes were to try to appeal to the American market (without much success).


Photo of the Sunbeam Mk.III (11.)


The Mk. III Alpine followed in 1955. This was only for one year as the end was nigh for the heavy Sunbeams (although a Mk. III saloon driven by two Norwegian policeman won the Monty Carlo Rally outright as a private entry). Sales were flagging as customers went for the lighter, faster, more economical Rapiers, Triumphs, etc and in 1956 production of the Mk. III ceased. Some cars were registered in 1957 but they were old stock.


The very last and rarest Sunbeam to appear in 1957 when a firm Castles of Leicester (who had made floor change conversions for all Sunbeams) bought around 40 Mk. III saloons which Rootes were unable to sell and had stored them in a quarry. They replaced all the brakes, reversed the boot lid action, fitted air scoops on the bonnet and inside they fitted their floor change, a Halda Speed Calculator, “cooked” the engines and sold them as a Mk. III S Special.


Photo of the Sunbeam Alpine Mk. III Special (12.)


Whilst the cars were in production, the Rootes Group ran a club called the Sunbeam Talbot Owners Club (S.T.O.C.), issued numbered badges and ran a Club Magazine. Later, after production ceased, this club was discontinued and to fill the void a group of ex-STOC members gathered in 1969 to create the new Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register (STAR). From these early beginnings we now have a world wide membership of over 800 and have a flourishing spares section, repairing old obsolete parts, storing new ones and occassionally re-manufacturing parts where possible. There are regional organizers, holding meetings, organizing shows & acting as local agents for STAR offering help and advice.     


A Magazine (Stardust) is issued bi-monthly containing technical articles, with each of the eight regions in the UK and region nine (Europe, N. America, Australia and New Zealand) contributing on their events and meetings held, together with forthcoming events.



The STAR website www.sunbeamtalbotalpineregister.com

Is kept up-to-date by the regions, where full details of membership are shown.