1952 Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II Drophead Coupe
The Sunbeam Motor Car Company dates back to 1905, even though the first Sunbeam car built dates back to 1902. The British company soon developed a reputation for building good quality sporting cars. Sunbeam dabbled in motor racing and built a number of successful racing cars and land speed record cars. Unfortunately the advent of the first World War was the beginning of the end for Sunbeam. The company was taken over by Darracq in 1920 and whilst they kept building Sunbeam motor cars the end was imminent. Sunbeam was placed into receivership in 1934 and sold to the Rootes Group.
Rootes started building cars under the Sunbeam-Talbot brand in 1938, producing a number of different models through until 1954. The first cars, the 3.0 Litre, 4.0 Litre and 10 were effectively restyled versions of the Hillman Minx and Humber Snipe. Post World War II Sunbeam-Talbot introduced two new models, designated the 80 and 90. A major improvement on these new models was the introduction of an overhead valve engine giving the cars significantly better performance. The Sunbeam-Talbot 80 series cars were powered by a 1.2 litre 4 cylinder engine developing 47 bhp. The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 series cars were initially powered by a 2.0 litre 4 cylinder engine developing 64 bhp and later a 2.3 litre 4 cylinder engine developing either 70 or 77 bhp depending on the tune. These cars were luxuriously appointed and the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 also had reasonable performance, so much so that they were often rallied in period with some success. A Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II, driven by Stirling Moss, Desmond Scannell and John Cooper, took second place in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally. A Sunbeam Mk III, driven by Per Malling and Gunnar Fadum was outright winner of the1955 Monte Carlo Rally.
In 1953 Rootes decided to drop the “Talbot” name from Sunbeam-Talbot with the launch of their new open sports car – the Alpine. The final iteration of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was introduced in 1954 and branded as the Sunbeam Mk III.
In 1959 Sunbeam introduced a ‘new’ smaller sports car that was also called an Alpine, which was a great success. With the help of Carroll Shelby the Alpine evolved into the Tiger which was effectively a V8 engined Alpine. Sunbeam also built the Rapier from the mid 1950’s through until the late 1960’s which was another success story. The last Sunbeam rapier was built in 1976 and the brand was then discontinued.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale one of the most sought after cars built by Sunbeam-Talbot – a 1952 Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II Drophead Coupe.
This car is understood to have been sold new into Brisbane to a Mr Fred See in August 1952. As part of the deal to purchase the car See agreed that it could be shown at the 1952 Brisbane Motor Show held at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds. See was a motor mechanic based in Greenslopes just on the south side of the Brisbane CBD. He owned the car through until circa 1970 and it was then sold to its second Brisbane based owner who is still in contact with the car today. At the time of sale the car had travelled around 100,000 miles. In the later years of See’s ownership the car was repainted in a copper/gold colour. This Sunbeam-Talbot’s second owner used the car sparingly and it sat in storage in a shed for the best part of 30 years before selling to the current owners in early 2004. Soon after acquiring this car the current owner embarked on a major recommissioning project and recalls taking it to a car show in Allora in early 2005. There is a photo on file of the car with two other Sunbeams dated 26th January 2005. Shortly thereafter the car was stripped and repainted back to its original colour of opalescent sand. The work was completed in March/April 2006.
Today this very unique car presents and drives well. The paintwork is in very good condition, though the car was repainted with the engine as well as the front and side glass in situ. Unfortunately, the original rubbers are starting to show their age. The car is finished in its original colour of ‘satin bronze metallica’, which looks identical to ‘opalescent sand’, a unique colour sometimes seen on Jaguar E-Types. The colour looks stunning on an E-Type and it also looks fabulous on a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II Drophead Coupe! The majority of the external trim is in good condition. The bumpers and grill look to have been rechromed and are in excellent condition. The chrome trim which houses the rear number plate light and Sunbeam-Talbot name is original and showing its age. There is some light pitting on the two small grills that sit on either side of the main front grill and on the boot handle.
The interior is in good condition and it looks as though everything is mostly original. The exception are the door cards which look to have been replaced at some stage. Interior shows just the right amount of patina for a 68 year old car! The seats show some discolouration but they are firm and there are no rips or tears to the upholstery. The instruments and controls are crisp and clean and in working order. This includes the trafficators which we just love on these period cars! The steering wheel shows some light cracking. The car has a new soft top, soft top cover and tonneau cover. The soft top can either be up, down or set in a ‘coupe de ville’ position, just like many period convertible Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars.
Mechanically the car looks to be in very good order. The engine starts at the first push of the button and it sounds great. That said there is a noise from the engine which the current owner thinks may be a cam follower. On a recent test drive the car drove exceptionally well. The engine pulls strongly through the rev range and once you get the knack of the four speed column shift you can drive the car with some authority, albeit perhaps a little more sedately than Stirling Moss did back in 1952! This car has more power than one would expect and it handles and stops pretty well.
This car has probably travelled less than 1,000 miles since it was acquired by its second owner in circa 1970. It is understood to have had only three owners from new and all in Queensland. As a result, the car carries its original Queensland registration plate of Q575814 which is pretty cool!
There is compartment inside the boot which contains the starting handle, wheel brace, grease gun, tyre pump and lifting jack.
There is an original owner’s handbook (Mk IIA), a copy of an owner’s hand book for a Mk II, a workshop manual, parts catalogue as well as other documentation for the car.
The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a successful car for the Rootes Group with just over 20,000 examples built from 1948 to 1954. Most of them were saloons, however, there were a small number of drophead coupes built and a handful were sold new in Australia. The spats were unique to the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II and give the car a sleek, sporting look.
As a result the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II Drophead Coupe is the most desirable and sought after model of the range. It is not known exactly how many of these cars were built, but very few survive today and they are seldom seen for sale.
- An Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example that has lived in Queensland all of its life.
- A known history with three owners from new.
- Matching numbers chassis and engine.
- Repainted in 2006 in its original colour of opalescent sand.
- A well presented, driving example of this rare and unique, yet very affordable, British classic.
- Sunbeam-Talbot 90 Mk II
- Drophead Coupe
- 55,695 miles