Barn Finds Exclusive: 1960 Sunbeam Alpine

So you’d like a British sports car, but it’s 1960 and you’re American, so it has to have tail fins. Well, problem solved, my friend: take a look at this Barn Finds Exclusive! This 1960 Sunbeam Alpine is located in Oklahoma City and is listed here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $7,500.

The stories of sports cars in the postwar era are populated with larger-than-life characters and strange juxtapositions. The Alpine’s design was a product of Raymond Loewy’s studio, which in the early and mid-fifties had produced the bullet-nose, the famed Loewy coupes, and the Hawk series for Studebaker, and would return to work with Studebaker on the Avanti. In 1964, the Alpine itself provided the basis for the Sunbeam Tiger, a hybrid car developed by Carroll Shelby that was ultimately put into production by Rootes. Interestingly, Ken Miles did proof-of-concept work on the Tiger, independently of Shelby American. And now, having mentioned Ken Miles, Carroll Shelby, and Studebaker in the same paragraph, I’ll get back to the machine under consideration.

The chassis number and short window guides reveal the car to be a Series I Alpine, which were produced between October of 1959 and October of 1960. The original engine for the Series I was the smallest, a 1.5L inline four producing around 80 hp and 89 lb.ft. of torque. This was coupled with a four-speed manual with synchro on the top three gears, the whole package providing a top speed of just under 100 mph and a zero to sixty time between 13 and 14 seconds; all in all, performance comparable to other British sports cars of the day, like the MGA. Unfortunately, the engine currently in the car has a cracked head. This particular cloud comes with a silver lining, though: the owner has sourced another engine which comes with the car. Since this engine is from a later car, it should have greater displacement– either 1.6 or 1.7 liters. While the 1.6 seems to have been, at best, a modest improvement, the 1.7 produced a whopping 93 horses.

This car has been the beneficiary of a careful restoration performed by the previous owner, who entered it in local shows. As a show car, this Alpine comes with a huge amount of documentation, detailing both maintenance and the restoration process. These documents are a huge win for the next owner, since they establish not only provenance and maintenance history, but also by their existence demonstrate that the car has been well-loved and cared for. Engine replacement aside, it should be relatively simple to get this one back on the road and, if so desired, winning trophies. For the money, it’s hard to see how one could go too far wrong with this British classic.

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Comments

  1. HadTwo

    It looks a little ratty for being an award winning show car.
    Kinda scary under that hood.
    Sunbeams used to be sold in the USA at some Chrysler dealerships.
    “Would you like a Newport…or a Sunbeam, Sir?”

    Like 6
  2. junkman Member

    After looking at the photo line up, I notice no photo of the driver side quarter panel. Judging by the misshapen tail light opening shown in the gallery pretty sure I would want to see pics of all 4 corners. Wire wheels while fairly cool looking and for sure British, can also present their own challenges, such as worn splines, pretty common on these. Home done body work brings to mind, ” If it ain’t right, paint it white” . And speaking of white, what is the color code on the VIN plate? It’s the # right after the Body #. Good Luck with the sale.

    Like 5
  3. JudoJohn

    Nice project. I think these were much better cars than the MGB. They just didn’t have the dealer network, or the marketing to sell more. A buddy had one back in the late ’70’s. We removed and rebuilt the engine, and he later had it fully restored. Very capable cars, albeit, not terribly fast.
    BTW, the ad states “fix this engine or drop in a V-8…” For the record, a V-8 will not fit without extensive modification (which in most cases, means the chassis is ruined). What is the obsession with “dropping in a V-8”? That’ how many good cars get killed. Just stop it.

    Like 10
  4. Mikefromthehammer

    What’s up with the missing rear window?

    Like 6
    • Rick

      And the uneven gap on the side of the trunk lid?

      Like 3
  5. Gerard Frederick

    This was never a real sports car, it was more of a girlie car wanna-be., a cutie – no more. The other Brits were way more car. The mother of Steve Mc Queen, a really nasty piece of work had one back in the 1960´s San Francisco. How do Iknow? I sold Mc Queen a Pantera off the showroom floor of British Motors on Van Ness Ave. Steve was a prince.

    Like 2
  6. Steve

    I had a 67’ Alpine back in the early 70’s. I had a ball with that car. The only real issue I had was the throw out bearing. It really wasn’t a bearing at all, just a carbon faced piece that would push on and release the clutch. I was replacing that “bearing” every 6-8 months

    Like 2
  7. Vibhic Erly

    I’ve had several of these what many call mini t-birds. A Ford v6 fit nicely and was a much better performer IMHO than the v8. A friend had a Tiger and it definitely would fly. We were going to a British car show early one Saturday at a speed of 120 on a long open stretch just for fun and a kid on a crotch rocket blasted by us like we were sitting still.

    Like 2
  8. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    Tail fins were so passé by 1960. But, I see your point, Andy.

  9. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    PS: no rear glass for that hardtop? PASS!

  10. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    PS: no rear glass for that hard top? PASS

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