A few days ago I posted a story about Corey Sherman’s Triumph Dove GTR4. The Triumph Dove was built by the Thomas Harrington Limited of Sussex. Slightly earlier, in 1961, Harrington was involved in a similar project with the Rootes Group in building a coupe version of the Sunbeam Alpine.
Sunbeam Harrington Coupe (1)
The image above is Harrington’s first publicity shot in 1961. The steel wheels and dog-dish wheel disks did not look as nice as some upscale versions that had wire wheels.
The Harrington would accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 13 seconds, do the quarter mile in the early 19 seconds, and had a top speed of 100 to 107 miles per hour. These numbers are very comparable to the base Sunbeam Alpine models.
I have never seen a Sunbeam Harrington in person. They were not officially imported into the USA, but perhaps there are a few Harrington’s that have made their way into the USA.
Sunbeam Harrington Coupe Readying For LeMans (1)
The car shown above is 1961 LeMans Series II Sunbeam Alpine with a Harrington style hardtop. This car was driven by the team of Peter Harper/Peter Procter and they won the Index of Thermal Efficiency prize in the 1961 LeMans race. This car did have the wire wheels.
A Sunbeam Harrington Coupe Takes The Checkered Flag At LeMans In 1961 (2)
A the LeMans race, the Sunbeam drove 2181.9 miles in 24 hours for an average speed of about 91 miles per hour. During that race, they did not even change a tire on the Sunbeam and only spent a total of 9 minutes in the pits!
As a result of that finish, Harrington came up with the “Sunbeam Harrington LeMans”. This design was on display at the Earl’s Court auto show in October 1961. In the image below the dark car in the foreground is the “LeMans” model.
Harrington Display At The Earl’s Court Auto Show (2)
I’m not sure how many Harringtons were built. From what I’ve seen, I think that about 300 cars were built, but I’m not sure. The Harringtons were sold with three stages off tune – Stages 1 (88 horsepower), 2 (93 horsepower), and 3 (100 horsepower) and were priced accordingly at 1225, 1300, and 1440 British pounds, respectively. The Stage 3 Harrington dropped the 0 to 60 miles per hour time from about 13 seconds to about 10.6 seconds and dropped the quarter mile time from the mid 19s to just under 18 seconds. This improved performance from the Stage 3 Harringtons, especially the 0 to 60 time, seems somewhat surprising for a reported 12 horsepower incremental difference.
These Harringtons were very influential and most British sports cars subsequently developed coupe versions that were similar to the Sunbeam Harrington.
For background information on the Sunbeam Harrington coupes I have a couple of informative books on the competitive aspects of all of the Rootes products. Both of these are good books on the topic
Michael Frostick’s Book On The Rootes Competition Department
The following book by Richard Langworth is a little more extensive, but it is harder to find and more expensive.
Richards Langworth’s Book On The Rootes Sports Cars
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Rootes Group was very active in racing and especially in rallying. Both of these books provide good information on all of the Rootes cars of that era.
- “Tiger, Alpine, Rapier” by Richard Langworth, 1982.
- “Works Team” by Michael Frostick, 1964