1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G

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Lot 146
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer
Registration no. YH 9691 Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G

Sold for £ 62,000 (US$ 74,775) inc. premium
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer
Coachwork by Sunbeam, Wolverhampton

Registration no. YH 9691
Chassis no. 4167GF
Engine no. 4163G
With a twin-cam six-cylinder engine inspired by the dohc power unit of the 1924 Sunbeam Grand Prix racer, the 3-litre Sunbeam Super Sports designed by Vincent Bertarione and refined by Georges Roesch was one of the outstanding sports cars of the 1920s. One proud owner declared at the time, “after covering 60,000 miles in my car, I am convinced that it has no rival for reliability, docility and fast acceleration”, while Sunbeam stated proudly that “there is no high-speed model of more interesting design or more satisfying in its performance than the three-litre Sunbeam”
.
This tourer-bodied 3-litre was first owned by a Mr J.Duffy of Chelmsford, Essex, who kept the car for ten years. It then passed briefly to a Mr W Croot and was acquired by T.C.Wiggins of St Albans in 1938. In January 1941 Dr F.J.G.Jeffries of Sevenoaks, Kent, bought the car from a scrapyard near Tring for £25 with 25,000 miles on the clock. Then a Flying Officer in the Royal Air Force, James Jeffries sold his Sunbeam to George Milligen in 1942 for £60. This record of 62 years’ ownership made Milligen the longest-term 3-litre owner. He completely restored his Sunbeam, one of his favourite cars, in 1953-54, repainting it ivory white.

Though the car has not been run for many years, it was formerly used to take George Milligen’s elderly mother to France and was in running order in the late 1980s, while the valve gear was recommissioned as recently as 2003. The handsome touring body is the work of Sunbeam’s own body shop and was, in its maker’s words, “designed to provide comfort at all speeds while retaining the full lines desirable in a super-sports type of car”. A distinctive feature is the use of close-fitting cycle-type front wings turning with the wheels, a concept pioneered by Sunbeam.
Originally announced in prototype form in 1924, the 3-litre Sunbeam went on the market in March 1925, when it was demonstrated to the press by the famous racing driver Major H.O.D.Segrave, who the previous year had won the Grand Prix de France, Britain’s first-ever Grand Prix victory. The prototype engine had used skew gear drive to the overhead camshafts, but this was replaced on the production version by the tried and tested system of trains of helical spur gears at the front of the engine.

The new model was soon given a chance to prove its mettle when two 3-litres were entered in the 1925 Le Mans race, driven by Henry Segrave/George Duller and Sammy Davis/Jean Chassagne. Segrave’s car fell by the wayside after an epic battle in the opening stages of the race with Bertie Kensington Moir’s 3-litre Bentley (which also retired), but the Davis/Chassagne car finished the race in second place despite a rear axle badly damaged when the car was forced off the road by a rival, having covered 1,343.2 miles against the winning Lorraine’s 1,388.1 miles, averaging 55.97 mph on a course that was more like a “potholed pebble beach” than a road. Had the Sunbeam won at Le Mans, it could have become a legend like its rival the 3-litre Bentley, with which in many respects it compares more than favourably.

Initial production consisted of “E Sanction” and “FE Sanction” cars, but for 1926, an “F Sanction” 3-litre was introduced with a strengthened and redesigned chassis frame and a modified cylinder block.
This car is from that desirable “F Sanction” production run, which marked the high point of 3-litre production. The famed racing manager John Wyer, who began his distinguished career at Sunbeam, wrote
that some 250 cars were built in 1926 (“though by no means all of them were sold in that year”). Total production of the 3-litre was around 315 cars.
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G
1927 Sunbeam 3-litre Tourer  Chassis no. 4167GF Engine no. 4163G
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