Barn Tourer: 1969 Sunbeam Alpine GT

sunbeam-alpine-gt

Of the Sunbeam products to make it to our shores, none is as recognized as the Tiger, mainly because of the V8 engine that was shoehorned into the engine bay. The Alpine that it was based on is often overlooked, except by those looking to build a Tiger clone. After Sunbeam ended production of the convertible in 1968, they quickly tried to create a new image for the Alpine, so they introduced a new coupe with the Alpine name and a GT logo tagged onto the end. Not many made it to our shores and very few are left. This 1969 Alpine GT was driven regularly until just a few years ago, when it was parked in the previous owner’s barn. Take a closer look at this rare Brit here on eBay. Special thanks to Jim S for this tip!

69-sunbeam-alpine-gt

Other than sharing a name and an engine, the Alpine GT wasn’t anything like its predecessor. The body styling is boxy and the shape of the rear end has led to it often being called the “Baby Barracuda”. The 1.7 liter straight four is a far cry from being a power house, but the addition of 5 main bearings, made it a much more durable motor then previous versions. The seller claims the motor was running 3 or 4 years ago, but is going to need some work before it will run again. Also, this should have a dual carb setup, but someone has switched it out for a single carb configuration. Hopefully it shouldn’t take much to get it running again and while parts could be hard to find here in the States, these were based off of the Sunbeam Rapier, so there should be plenty of parts available in the U.K.

sunbeam-alpine-gt-rear

While it would be sad to see such a rare little car modified rather than restored, we can’t help but want to drop a Ford V8 into it and have our own Tiger GT. Given the rust in the floors and on the frame, this one might not be able to handle the torque though. Would you leave this Baby Barracuda as is or would you try to shove a V8 into it?

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Comments

  1. paul

    Ouch, wait till I tell agent 99 what you think of the Alpine.

    • dave

      Just like the first ‘cudas were a fastback Valiant, this Sunbeam variant always came across as being fastback Sunbeam Arrow. Despite the name and marketing hype, they were regarded as being an econo car with a big back window, and the market did NOT embrace them

    • Don Andreina

      There’s definitely a first-series Barracuda resemblance in the rear view. These things look a bit like the Renault 15/17, but are not nearly as well styled. Still, it is rare and there are a lot of uglier cars out on the road.

    • Gary

      I thought Max drove the Tiger version.

  2. turretman1st

    when stationed in longbeach ca on uss new jersey bb-62, in early 80’s I was really into sunbeams had a series2 alpine and a sunbeam arrow 4dr I obtained a 69 alpine same paint scheme as this one it was in really great shape but electrical was bad. fixed it then a new neighbor moved in and fell in love with so I sold it to him. he just babyed that car. I payed a 100 for it sold it for 200.
    ps that car only had 1 Stromberg only not duals appearted factory also was 4speed

  3. DT

    Lucas : Prince of darkness

  4. DT

    Is the bald tire or the flat tire the “new tires”

  5. Horse Radish

    Seller is ‘threatening’ to keep it(“if it doesn’t sell….”) if it doesn’t meet reserve.
    .
    ..
    ………I’d say: call his bluff.

  6. Charles

    Obviously rare.

    I still don’t see much collectability in that car.

    I could not justify spending the amount of money it will take to make it nice again.

    Maybe someone who has a passion for that model will step forward and save it.

    Restoring that car will be a true labor of love.

    Many years ago, I worked in automotive sales. There is a saying in that business. “There is a butt for every seat.”

  7. Dolphin Member

    This isn’t even a shadow of a Barracuda.
    Get the real thing.

    • paul

      I’ll pass on them both, thanks!

  8. Tom Cotrel

    I like the looks of this thing and would make it into a daily driver without any thought to collect-ability or originality. In short, restomod it.

    Fix the rust, drop in a late-model four cylinder and transmission from a truck in a wrecking yard, get everything working again. Minilite or Panasport wheels would complete the package.

  9. Chris Bater UK

    Good morning. These Sunbeams were almost as rare here in the UK as “over there” The original Alpine was a distinctly European design, rather Italian if anything, this replacement was altogether a very “transatlantic” creation, put together I have no doubt to appeal to American export/import sales, thus its appeal here in the UK was limited, it almost tried to be too different, if there was a message in the design, too few people got it! This Alpine was a byproduct of the Hillman Hunter/Gazelle saloon (sedan) and shared many of its components, including its nasty backlash steering system (non-rack and pinion) with several drop links to get around the sump, all of which attracted wear which could make for “interesting” vehicle control. The engine was lively enough in 1750cc twin carb format, as per my late Dads Hunter GT but in single carb form, performance would be somewhat lack luster to say the least. There was a very rare performance version called the Holbay as developed for Rootes/Crysler by Holbay tuning. This Holbay version was listed as having a 120bhp output, enough for a decent lawn mower by American standards, but an amazing output by circa UK standards. How this rocket version managed the corners (and we have lots of them) with that steering, God only knows. The model was short live and left no real memories other than curiosity, rather like the Rootes group itself. CB

  10. Chris Bater UK

    Hello again. With reference to Dave above, I am guessing that the Sunbeam Arrow was the Stateside model name for the Hillman Hunter. If memory serves me well, the Rootes factory code name for the development of this series was project Arrow, presumable this title stuck for the export version. There was a useful estate (station wagon) version of the saloon (sedan) which was reasonably popular. In the mid seventies the design/production rights were sold to Iran where they were produced in there trillions until comparatively recently. CB

    • paul

      that is why Iran is so pissed!

  11. rancho bella

    There’s is a reason they are rare states side………
    Just give me a finned Alpine vert.

  12. Chris Bater UK

    For a view of an original dealer poster of the Sunbeam Rapier (UK model) H120 (Holbay) fastback try ebay number 360343410639. CB

  13. Paul B

    In this shape, it’s a parts car and not worth putting much if any money into. Bottom line: these cars are dull. I used to drive a friend’s Alpine GT coupe quite a bit in the early 1970s. It was an indifferent-handling, not especially powerful Americanized “sports” version of a very boring English sedan, and the Arrow/Hunter was boring because Chrysler was heavily involved in its creation. Parts should be extremely difficult to come by; they already were by the early 1970s as Rootes dealers closed up in the U.S. My advice is to put your money somewhere more fun and with more prospect of at least holding value, if not increasing it.

  14. Chris Bater UK

    Though it pains me to say it, Paul B is absolutely right and his summation inarguable. I,m not so sure about spare parts though. Research this pm revealed that Rootes exported CKD (complete knock down) kits to Iran from the product launch in 1967. Peugeot took over the failing Chrysler-Rootes European operations in 1978, a year later production tooling for the Arrow/hunter moved to Iran, where the model was built under Peugeot license as the Paykan until 2005….yes 2005! (see Wikipedia) Interestingly Paykan means arrow in Persian. So somewhere in Iran there must be truckloads of spares…..I bet the CIA know where they,re located…..either that or they,ve been melted down to make centifuges

  15. Bill (Melbourne, Australia)

    Neat little car for someone that has time, talent and not a lot of money to be able to buy ‘an investment car’ (they are the ones all the financial whizzes keep making noise about).

    What always makes me laugh is all the ‘big financial gurus’ talking about investments in cars – what a load of crap – just do and spend what you want/can and that which gives you enjoyment – its a hobby for most (AKA = money pit = so damn what).

    If it was all about making money from investing in cars – then 99.999% of the punters have failed the first test. If you want to invest (and 99.999% cant buy a 250 California to do so) – pick another area, certainly not cars – if you want to have fun and spend a lot of time and probably more money than its really worth – restore a car – bike = have FUN.

    • Don Andreina

      Too bloody right, mate.

  16. Paul B

    @ Chris Bater & others, it also pained me to say what I did about the Alpine GT, as I happen to be a big Rootes fan. Childhood friends had a beautiful ’61 Rapier convertible. I loved that car, which the owner later tried to give me. My dad blocked that gift, and today I certainly wish I had that car! My family bought a brand new ’67 Minx (named Sunbeam Minx in the U.S. at that time, not Hillman) partly on good word from our neighbors with the Rapier. And I was and still am a great lover of Alpine 2-seaters and Tigers. So, no undue anti-Rootes prejudice coming from this corner. I just wanted you all to know.

  17. Jamie Wallhauser

    Even the most ardent Rootes fan has to acknowledge that this car is hardly worth the effort. If I was passionate about the model, I’d buy this for parts and then spend more time looking for the right platform to work with. But I’d have to be pretty passionate. And why no interior shots? I’m only assuming it has a complete interior. Let’s hope this seller is willing to let it go cheap, for whatever reason.

  18. Jamie Wallhauser

    I agree, even the most ardent Rootes fan has to acknowledge that this car is hardly worth the effort. If I was passionate about the model, I’d buy this for parts and then spend more time looking for the right platform to work with. But I’d have to be pretty passionate. And why no interior shots? I’m only assuming it has a complete interior. Let’s hope this seller is willing to let it go cheap, for whatever reason.

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