1901 Sunbeam Mabley
Lot 204
1901 Sunbeam-Mabley Cycle Car Engine no. 15372
Sold for £65,300 (US$ 109,757) inc. premium
Lot Details
1901 Sunbeam-Mabley Cycle Car
Registration no. AR 39
Engine no. 15372


  • Founded by John Marston, a God-fearing Victorian industrialist who foresaw the growth in demand for private transport, Sunbeam was first associated with beautifully made, though expensive, bicycles. Although comparative latecomers to motor car manufacture, the Wolverhampton-based Sunbeam factory quickly established a fine reputation alongside Lanchester, Wolseley, Austin and Daimler at the heart of the expanding Midlands motor industry.
    Introduced in 1901, the Sunbeam-Mabley was said by its maker to have 'been designed with the object of providing a simple and comfortable motor car in a compact and light form. No attempt has been made to follow the general lines of a "horseless carriage." The general appearance of the car is that of two lounges placed "vis-à-vis"...' All of which resulted in a vehicle that looked like someone had motorised a corner of the snug bar.
    The Mabley was powered by a water-cooled single-cylinder De Dion engine rated at 2¾hp, which was mounted to the left-hand side of the front wheel. Unconventionally, the Mabley disposed it wheels in an asymmetrical diamond formation, the two side wheels being driven by leather belt and chains while the offset fore and aft wheels were both steered, thus the car left four tracks on the road! It is estimated that approximately 130 Sunbeam-Mableys were made between 1901 and 1903, of which it is believed only four survive.
    This ultra-rare early Sunbeam was previously owned by Emmie White, from whom it was acquired by the current vendors in 1973, by which the original wheels had been changed. Since acquisition the Mabley has participated successfully in 20 Brighton runs and never failed to finish. Work carried out during the current ownership has included a repaint in the late 1970s and an engine bottom-end rebuild and fitting a newly cast cylinder head in the 1980s. Within the last couple of years the car has received new tyres, batteries, trembler coils, drive belt and fitted covers (one in black cotton and the other in black nylon) while the carburettor has been fully overhauled. Constructed in 2009 and included in the sale, the purpose-built trailer can be dismantled for stowage in an estate car. Other noteworthy features include deep-button vinyl upholstery and Lucas King's Own Model F lamps (three in number). When viewed by Bonhams a couple of weeks ago the Mabley started first throw and drove around the farmyard perfectly, though the drive band would benefit from re-tensioning to prevent slippage. Accompanying documentation consists of an old-style logbook, VCC Dating Certificate and Swansea V5, and the car is currently taxed and MoT'd. Entered in this year's London-Brighton Veteran Car Run, this delightfully idiosyncratic vehicle affords the prospect of an early start and two comfortable seats to Brighton.
  1. Tim Schofield
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 5804
    FaxFax: +44 20 7468 5802