Motoring Monday: Sunbeam Alpine At No Reserve

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The Sunbeam Alpine is generally under-appreciated by sports car enthusiasts. With a distinctly softer edge than contemporary MG’s, Triumphs and Austin-Healeys (the Alpine offered real wind-up windows upon it’s introduction in 1959, unlike the others which still used side curtains), what’s little known is that the little Sunbeams were quite good handling sports cars. This particular Alpine is a Series II, which were produced from 1961 to 1963, and featured the uprated 1592cc 4-cylinder and twin Solex carburetors. It’s located in Williamsburg, Michigan and is being offered for sale here on eBay. The opening bid is only $600, and there’s no reserve. However, upon closer examination, there may be a reason for that price being so low…

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As you can see from this shot, the British convertible has some body issues. Paint is flaking and peeling over the majority of the body and it’s been that way for a while based on the rust showing. To their credit, the seller doesn’t try to disguise this at all and has included pictures of some pretty bad spots. The seller also characterizes the car as 80% complete. I actually think they are being conservative in that figure as I would certainly call it at least 90% complete given the parts that go along with the car.

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Speaking of parts, here are some of them that come along with the car. I don’t even know what all of these are, but I recognize enough to know that this is a substantial parts haul (check out the other pictures in the auction). There’s even a driver’s side door. Do you think the door was picked up to replace some damage to the original?

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The seller posted this picture to show the door, I’m guessing. Unfortunately, it also highlights the rust in the rocker panel. This is a tough repair on Alpines as they are unibody cars, not body-on-frame like many British contemporaries. Supports and braces will have to be attached first in order to keep the body straight and intact. At this point, I’m wondering whether this is a car worth saving or a good parts car. It rolls, the engine is free, and its got that cool factory hardtop, although I don’t see a rear window.

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The interior shots show an essentially complete interior, but hardly any of it would be usable without serious renovation. And there’s that dreaded rust again, all over the floorboards. While there’s not much in the way of true holes, I’m thinking a good jump on the floorboards would go right through. I think in my case, I’d pass on restoring this car, but I think it would make a terrific parts car if combined with a solid body shell. Anyone got a solid Alpine floating around out there that needs everything else? I’m thinking of these two solid but incomplete Alpines that were available a month ago. I don’t think there’s enough solid metal in this Alpine to turn into an Alger, but that’s an option also, I suppose. What do you think? What would you do?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Stuart

    I liked the Sunbeam because Maxwell Smart drove one in “Get Smart”. But that may have been a Tiger.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Stuart, that was a Tiger in the original series–good eye! Trivia note: For the recent remake movie, they couldn’t find a Tiger, so they bought an Alpine and made it look like a Tiger.

  2. justin

    “Missed it by that much”. Maxwell Smart

  3. MikeW

    Unibody? My ’65 had a large X frame under it, but the fenders are welded on. The Smart series used both a Tiger and a Alpine for the stunts and for the machine gun mounts.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Valid point, Mike — due to the welded fenders and sills I think of it as a unibody, but your description is more accurate.

  4. Stuart

    Chief, shouldn’t the “Get Smart’ references be communicated under the cone of silence?

  5. MikeW

    Having owned a 65 and 66, I would be tempted at this price, but wrong coast.

  6. bcavileer

    Oh so crusty. So rusty, so … missing barbara feldman

  7. MSG Bob

    bcavileer, I think you mean Barbara Feldon (who played Agent 99). MikeW, you’re close – but “would you believe” that Don Adams owned a Tiger and used it on the show? They did buy an Alpine and put the prop cannon under the hood (no room in a Tiger – the V8 was too big).

  8. Stuart

    I have to admit that Steve Carell was okay as agent 86, but Anne Hathaway was a very nice agent 99.

  9. Sundaydriver

    Recently received my 1960 back from the restoration shop.

    I prefer the early finned examples. Although four cylinder bangers are not for everyone, an “Alger” is an easy substitute if you want more power.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Beautiful car!

    • MK_beam

      Doing a v8 conversion is far from Easy on an alpine, and not a good idea on a series I/ll as they have the lever arm rear.

      As for 1960… Aren’t they the series ll window guides on the car? If you haven’t added them that’s a series ll alpine… 1961-63

  10. jim s

    looks like a lot of good parts for the no reserve $600 to start. the black/red sure looks good on them.

  11. francisco

    Maybe the “Craw” could pick up those extra parts.

  12. Stuart

    I think this “Get Smart” movie car dialog is even better than the litany a few months ago about suspected Herbie the Love Bug” vehicles. Yes, I’m sending this from my shoe phone.

  13. francisco

    Sorry about that, Chief.

  14. julian

    Sunday Driver looks like the original colour.
    When I worked for Rootes a friend of mine had a new one in this pale blue colour with a matching hard top. Beautiful to look at (and the driver) and an all weather car for English winters. And the heater worked!

  15. doc

    we are fortunate enuf to own a ’65 Tiger cali car, bone stock Alpine white with black interior we will be cruising the concourse de elegance next weekend in Carmel CA
    honestly we literally fell into this car. 1999 12K needed minimal work now worth, would you believe,
    150k+ ,how about 90k alright 175k sorry no picks on this laptop,I’ll post a couple when we get home..

    • francisco

      The old “fall into the car” trick. eh?

  16. MikeW

    If a v8 conversion was easy, Chrysler would have done when they bought Roots in 1967, also I would have done mine too. I found out they moved the firewall back about 4 inches and that involves removing the steering box and components that run across the firewall and substitute with a rack and pinion up front. When Chrysler found out their small v8 engine wouldn’t fit, they decided to part-out the company and sold off the remaining Mustang powered Tigers as American powered sports cars.

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