There will be purists who might feel that only “proper” pre-war Sunbeams or Talbots should bear those names but I think they might be very pleasantly surprised if they came to see this really rather magnificent Sunbeam Talbot 4 litre fast touring car which was built on the Humber Super Snipe chassis under the aegis of Rootes Ltd. It has a very torquey 6 cylinder sidevalve engine with an aluminium cylinder head which is reported to develop about 100 bhp at around 3,500 rpm combined with a four speed and reverse manual gearbox all clothed in a very stylish coachbuilt body.
The car was bought in 2006 by Martin and Patsy Clayton who produced a very informative summary of its life which I have abridged below.
It was ordered in 1939 by Royal Navy Captain Goffrey Schreiber and although there are no coachbuilders plates it is believed that he had it bodied by Offords of London. He owned the car until his death in 1966 after which the car was sold and nothing was heard of it until 1997 when the UK based owners club was contacted about it by an engine restorer based in the USA.
Its earliest known American record is of it being registered in Illinois in 1977 where it belonged to a man in Chigago who owned it for 15 years before selling it to a Monsignor John Charbois. He decided to have it restored but he chose a rather suspect company who didn’t do a good job and the engine had been delivered to a Mr. Dave Mullins who contacted the club for assistance on rebuilding it.
The car ended up with classic car dealer Hyams of St. Louis who traded it with several other cars to a UK collector who was apparently appalled by its condition so he had it made roadworthy then put it up for sale at a UK auction where Martin and Patsy Clayton bought it.
This is where the car’s luck changed for the better as they spent a year getting it running properly then must have concluded that what it really needed was a major restoration. They enlisted Ken Sparkes of Frame Craft to do the work and fortunately the file contains very helpful notes recording the work he did which included making a new ash frame, repairing the aluminium panels, retrimming the whole interior with Connolly leather. It obviously has a new hood and they also replaced the running boards as well as rewiring the car with a new loom. It is also quite clear that whoever it was that applied the really lovely two shades of grey metallic paint knew exactly what they were doing as the paint finish is superb apart from one small area that would benefit from being refinished.
The car not only looks good but is obviously very sound mechanically apart from the steering box which will be receiving some of our attention. The engine, gearbox and transmission are all quiet and work as they should and the servo assisted brakes are well up to the job required of them. The body is dent and rattle free and has very good shut lines on the door and boot/dickey seat lid and all of the instruments work as they should.
This car is a Grand Tourer in the true sense of the word and would be perfect for that long planned driving holiday as soon as soon as we are free to go where we want to and in the meantime it will be quite happy operating as one of the most glamourous forms of shopping transport other drivers will see on their run to the local shops!
P.S. I have a copy of a very interesting article on this car written for Classic Cars magazine which I will be happy to forward to you.