Property of a deceaseds estate 1932 Sunbeam 20hp Speed Model Sports Saloon Prototype Registration no. JW 1762 Chassis no. 103M Engine no. 2002M
John Marston Limited's first Sunbeam production car, a De Dion-engined voiturette, was sold in 1901, but it was not until 1907, two years after the Sunbeam Motor Car Company had been formed, that the firm produced its first all-British model, the 16/20. The arrival of designer Louis Coatalen and the pursuit of an effective competition programme enabled the marque to establish a formidable reputation prior to WWI, its superbly made products enjoying a reputation rivalling that of the best from Alvis and Bentley thereafter. Introduced for 1927 and priced from £750 upwards, the first 20hp Sunbeam was powered by a 2,916cc six-cylinder engine and enjoyed a production life of just three years, being superseded by a new Twenty in 1931, although this 3.3-litre newcomer was actually rated at 23.8hp. There were still plentiful stocks of the old 2.9-litre engine, so to make use of these a new Speed Model was introduced at the 1932 Motor Show, thus filling a gap in the Wolverhampton firms range left by the demise of the twin-cam 3-Litre a few years previously. In resurrected form the 2.9-litre engine was boosted in output by means of improved, down-draught induction and an increased compression ratio, producing 72bhp at 3,600rpm. Sunbeam claimed that the Speed Model was designed to be capable of sustained high touring speeds of between 60 and 70mph, so that it shall be specially fitted for Continental travel. This claim was fully justified; The Motor recording a top speed of 84mph while testing a four-door pillar-less saloon in 1934 with 90mph approachable under favourable conditions. Sadly, the collapse of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine in 1935 and its subsequent acquisition by the Rootes brothers meant that the Speed Model - one of the last true Sunbeams - never got the chance it deserved. It is believed that as few as 98 production models were made. The car offered here is one of only three known survivors bodied by the factory with this particular form of close-coupled, sports saloon coachwork. Production Sunbeams typically had four-digit chassis numbers but this ones is not a mistake; rather, it is an example of the numbering used for prototype or pre-production cars: three numbers followed by a letter signifying the year. 103M has the 20.9hp (2,916cc) engine and an otherwise standard 18.2hp chassis with bolt-on wheels. The engine is to 1930 specification, with magneto ignition and up-draught carburettor. First registered to the Sunbeam Motor Co, JW 1762 is recorded in the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register, which keeps records of its subsequent owners. The car was purchased as a wreck by the immediately preceding owner (since deceased), who executed a chassis upwards rebuild during the 1990s, which is recorded in an accompanying album of photographs. It is understood that the Sunbeam was driven regularly up until December 2004, remaining in storage thereafter before being purchased by the current (recently deceased) vendor in mid-2005. Since acquisition the vehicle has benefited from further mechanical refurbishment, including engine reconditioning, and on a recent short test drive performed as one would expect of one in good mechanical condition. Undeniably handsome, this unique Sunbeam prototype is offered with old-style logbook, dating certificate, current MoT/road fund licence, Swansea V5 and a most substantial file of history, close inspection of which is highly recommended.