1925 Sunbeam 500cc Model 10 Sprint
Registration no. FC 9062
Frame no. OS 273
Engine no. 229/350
John Marston, a successful Victorian domestic-ware maker in Paul St. Wolverhampton, ventured into bicycle-making in 1887. His machines, sold as 'The Sunbeam' soon becoming famous for their beautiful, black-japanned and gold-leaf finish and were always expensive, coinciding perfectly with the boom in 'society' cycling of the 1890s. Marston prospered and the company's first car was made in 1899, but motor cycles were not made until 1912, making this their Centenary year.
For such a traditional firm, the entry into competition with the new product was startlingly swift, the 2 3/4 h.p. and the 1914 3 1/2 h.p. models being successful in long-distance trials and road-racing from the start, the '3 1/2' obtaining a solid second place, ridden by H.R.Davies, in the 1914 Senior TT. At this time, a young and talented engineer and rider, George Dance, joined the company.
Following the Great War and the 1918 death of John Marston, the competition use of 'The Sunbeam' continued with enormous success, as any study of the records will show. One of Sunbeam's outstanding fields was in the 'twenties events of sprints and hill-climbs where George Dance, by now the acknowledged Sunbeam chief tuner, developed a series of astonishingly fast ohv 'Dance Specials'. Considered almost unbeatable in the 350 and 500 classes, the taciturn Dance often won every class in an event. Immensely successful at Style Kop, Pendine and Brooklands, Dance was fated to win only one TT Replica.
Though no authentic Dance machine is known to exist, his tuning genius resulted in the briefly catalogued 'Model 10 Sprint', a synthesis of everything Dance in a small-production sprint machine. Discontinued by 1926, when the public-road events for which it was designed were outlawed, the 'Sprint' was made in tiny numbers and authentic survivors are very rare.
FC 9062 was registered to The Layton Garages in Oxford as a 'Sunbeam 3 1/2 h.p. 250 lbs.' on July 17th. 1925, though no further details are given. (n.b. The usual confusion between new and old terminology has resulted in the 3 1/2 being listed as a 350, rather than 500, on the V5C) Without doubt a contemporary pairing, the numbers are correct for the year. Only minor modifications have taken place over the years and this 'Sprint' is in largely original shape and running well. In long-term ownership, it has the unlikely feat of a completed VMCC Banbury Run to its credit - though the tiny tank, designed for the standing 1/4 mile, proved a handicap - and has sprinted at Goodwood in the hands of a previous owner.
Complete with V5C, memorabilia, old MOT and photographs in a history file, missing only a pair of Dance knee-grips, this rare and lovely, Dance-designed Sunbeam will be the centrepiece of any Sunbeam enthusiast's collection.
- This machine is a Sunbeam 500cc Model 11, rather than a Model 10 as stated in the auction catalogue. Other particulars are correct.