Scenic America In 1955 As Seen From A Sunbeam Alpine

Over the past few months I have been looking into the history of the first generation of Sunbeam Alpines in general, and one in particular that is currently owned by Frank Jenkins of Massachusetts.  Frank has a black Sunbeam Alpine that is fitted with the special high performance engine that The Rootes Group installed in only a very few cars.  Not only does Frank’s have a rare engine, it is the only one to be painted the black color.

I first saw Frank’s car on display at the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in 2007.  I posted a story about the first generation of Sunbeam Alpine cars on October 1, 2011 in which I featured Frank’s car.  At that time I did not know Frank, but he subsequently contacted me and we have been discussing this car for several months.   This summer I joined Frank as he toured Floyd Bent’s Cadillac collection in Franklin, MA.  Frank is now considering selling the car and I was assisting Frank with the rally history of the Sunbeam Alpines in general, and his car in particular.

Frank has been able to determine that in 1955, the car was owned by Patrick Vanson from France who was on an extended trip to the USA. During that period of time Patrick used the Sunbeam to take an extended driving vacation across the country.  Patrick then sold the car and returned to France.

Patrick Vanson has been involved in motorsports all his life and still attends Sunbeam Alpine functions in Europe.  He has a very distinguished rally history.  For example, he was Timo Makinen’s co-driver when they finished fourth in a Mini Cooper in the 1964 Monte Carlo rally while driving for the famous BMC works rally team.

Makinen Vanson 1964

Timo Makinen/Patrick Vanson Finishing 4th In A 1,071cc Mini Cooper In The 1964 Monte Carlo Rally (1)

In 1970, Patrick Vanson was the driver of the Citroen that finished 7th Overall and won the top privateer award in the gruelling World Cup Rally.

Vanson World Cup

Patrick Vanson Was 7th Overall And Top Privateer In The 1970 World Cup Rally In His Citroen (2)

I have been in contact with Patrick over the last few months about the days when he owned this Sunbeam Alpine.  He has been kind enough to dig up some of his slide pictures that he took of the Sunbeam Alpine during his trip across America.  He sent those slides to me and my son-in-law converted them into electronic files.

Besides being good around cars, Patrick is good with a camera as well.  I have included Patrick’s photographs in this post as they show the Sunbeam Alpine as it was in 1955 with interesting and wonderful background scenery.  The captions underneath the slides are what Patrick wrote on the slide frame.

Pikes Peak Col

Pikes Peak Col

Sangre De Cristos Mountains NM

Sangre De Cristos, New Mexico

Sunbeam At Bryce Canyon

Sunbeam At Bryce Canyon

Sunbeam In Chicago

Sunbeam At Chicago

Top Of Oak Creek Pass AZ

Top Of Oak Creek Canyon Pass, Arizona

Williamsport PA

Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon

I will have more about Frank Jenkins’ unique Sunbeam Alpine, as he puts together the history of the car.  Frank loves the car, but he wants to sell it to someone who will use it more than he currently uses it.


1. “Monte Carlo Rally, The Golden Age, 1911-1980” by Graham Robson, 2007

2. “World Cup Rally 40” by Graham Robson, 2010

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