Frank Jenkins’ 1954 Sunbeam Alpine

Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time with Frank Jenkins of Sherborn, Massachusetts, his wife Beth and their 1954 Sunbeam Alpine.  Joining us was Rod Allen and his wife Heather.  Rod, who was visiting from England, is the Secretary of the Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register (STAR) which is an active group of owners of these cars.

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Frank Jenkins And His Sunbeam Alpine

Frank Jenkins’ Sunbeam Alpine is a very special car.  Frank’s Sunbeam Alpine is one of 86 Sunbeam Alpine cars that were built with a special engine that develops 100 horsepower at 4,500 rpm.  The normal Sunbeam Alpine had an 80-horsepower 2,267cc engine.  The 100-horsepower Sunbeam Alpine Mk 1 Special engine was based on the same 2,267cc Mk 1 Sunbeam Talbot motor, with an alloy rocker cover and Siamese exhaust ports plus the compression ratio was raised to 8.0:1 and a special induction manifold was fitted with twin Solex carburetors.

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Rod Allen And Frank Check Out The Alpine As Heather Looks On

It is not known who was the original owner of this special Sunbeam Alpine, but we know that the car was bought in the early part of 1955 by Patrick Vanson.  At that time Patrick Vanson was a young man from Europe on an extended trip to the United States.  In later years Patrick Vanson got involved in major international rallying events, finishing fourth in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally as Timo Makinen’s co-driver on the works Mini team and Patrick was the highest finishing privateer in the famous 1970 World Cup Rally in a Citroen.

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Frank Jenkins’ Sunbeam Alpine 60 Years Ago On The Pike’s Peak Road

In 1956 Patrick Vanson drove this car on a round trip from the New York area to the California coast.  We have contacted Patrick about this car and he was kind enough to share some pictures that he took of the car during that trip, including the above picture taken at Pike’s Peak.  After the trip Patrick Vanson sold the car and its history becomes lost for a few years.

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Timo Makinen & Patrick Vanson On Their Way To A 4th Place Finish In The 1964 Monte Carlo Rally

Patrick Vanson has never forgotten this Sunbeam Alpine and Patrick currently has another Sunbeam Alpine that he had carefully restored.

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Frank Jenkins’ Alpine Is The Only Alpine Special In The Black Color

The Sunbeam Alpine was available from 1953 to 1955, but only 1582 Alpines were built with 961 were exported to the North America, 445 remained in the UK, while 175 went to other world markets.

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This Car Has Less Than 50,000 Miles On It

In the mid-1960s the car was sold to William Landseld of Unionville, Pennsylvania.  His daughter used the car to drive to law school in nearby Wilmington, Delaware.  The car remained in the family and was latterly driven by a younger daughter to drive to her school, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

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The Sunbeam Alpine Has A Rather Large Trunk

In 1972, this Sunbeam Alpine was put up on blocks in a barn owned by the Landselds.  There were 43,000 miles showing on the odometer at that time. Through all of this, Frank, who is a long-time friend of the Landseld family, had kept an eye on the Sunbeam Alpine. In 2000, Frank suggested to Landseld that the car should be restored. Landseld agreed and surprised Jenkins by giving him the car.

The car was taken to Barnard, Vermont where Steve Cota at the Lymepond Restoration Shop was assigned to restore the 1954 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Special. Not surprisingly, the car required major work. Rust and corrosion necessitated extensive bodywork and the corroded floor pan was replaced with healthy steel.  Cota had to fabricate some difficult to locate replacement parts.  A new beige-colored top was fitted on the car which matches the beige leather upholstery.

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The 100 Horsepower Special Engine Has Two Carburetors

These cars had a significant rally history.  Sir Stirling Moss won three Alpine Cups in the Alpine Rally while driving one of these cars.  John Fitch also drove one of these cars in the Alpine Rally.

Alpines At The Alpine Rally

Two Sunbeam Alpines In The Alpine Rally

The interior of the Sunbeam Alpine is quite attractive.  Note the switches on the hub of the steering wheel.  At the top of the hub, the slide switch controls the turn signals.  Apparently the Sunbeam Alpines sent to North America did not have the semaphore signals that were used for the home market in England.  The slide switch at the bottom of the steering wheel hub controls the overdrive transmission.

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The Interior Has Been Completely Restored

Except for the improved engine under the hood, this is a fairly simple basic car.  There is not a lot of chrome on the car.  The major chrome pieces, both bumpers, were replated.  The original glass in the windshield and two wing vents were reused. The windows in the doors are plastic and slide open rather than roll down inside the doors.

Frank and the folks at the Lymepond Restoration Shop did a complete and thorough ($$) restoration which was completed in 2007.  Since that time the car has only seen occasional use including taking his daughter to her wedding.

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The Sunbeam Alpine Has A 4-Speed Column Mounted Transmission

The Sunbeam Alpine has a column-mounted four-speed transmission with overdrive.  The rear axle ratio for the Alpine models was changed to 4.22 from the standard 3.90 to increase the acceleration characteristics.  The Sunbeam has a factory installed tachometer in the lower center of the dashboard.

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Sunbeam Was An Old English Marque

After taking a good look at the Sunbeam Alpine, we had a tasty lunch at Legal Sea Foods.  We discussed activities related to Sunbeam cars.  For information on the STAR group check out their website at www.sunbeamtalbotalpineregister.com

As you can see from the photos, Frank Jenkins is a tall fellow and in recent years one of his legs has stiffened up somewhat.  This has made it very difficult for him to get in and out of his Sunbeam Alpine.  As a result, Frank is interested in selling this car.  He wants someone to have the car who will be able to drive it.  If you are interested in this car, then contact me via email at the following address, shanna12@comcast.net and I will put you in touch with Frank.

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2 Responses to Frank Jenkins’ 1954 Sunbeam Alpine

  1. L.F. Schepman says:

    nice!!!!!!

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