View Full Version : Greetings! and help identifying this engine?.

12-22-2006, 11:44 AM
Greetings. I'm a new member, but a long time car buff. As noted in my bio, I enjoy taking on projects that others have given up on...it all started with the 67 MGB GT I had towed home when I was 17. EVERYTHING was stripped off the engine and tossed inside the passenger compartment. Turns out everything WAS really there and it all eventually worked. I drove that car for a number of years, off and on, and finally sold it to a family friend who swapped the engine out and into a GT he had restored the body on.

My most recent British car project was a 94 Jag XJ6 that was dead/stranded on the owner's inlaws' driveway. Between building a new house, a sick family member, and a blown motor in a Lotus that all needed attention, he was willing to let it go to a good home for a reasonable cost...turned out to be anther fun project.

In my holiday travels I've run across an interesting item that I'm trying to assess and determine whether or not it's worth saving from the metal recycler it has a date with in less than a week. A gentleman I'm acquainted with is cleaning out some shops and has a Sunbeam engine and transmission that he knows virtually nothing about. I've spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of days researching it and here's what I think I've found out. I'd appreciate any corrections or additional details anyone here can supply.

Given the terms in the FAQ I hesitate to post the links to the websites I've gleaned my info from, but I'd be happy to PM them or post them if I get the go-ahead from the site moderators. (I took a stab at asking for help on this motor yesterday but evidently went about it the wrong was as the post and my account were deleted....or maybe it was just one of those quirky server hiccups.)

Anyway, here are a few photos of the engine:


Feel free to view more photos of the Sunbeam motor (and photos of many of my other past and present projects) at https://s47.photobucket.com/albums/f174/DavesData2/Sunbeam/

From the research I did, this probably isn't a Sunbeam Alpine block because this one isn't aluminum...a magnet most definitely sticks to it. Much of the transmission housing IS aluminum. It was twin Zenith carbs.

The engine serial number looks to be A198575_. From the research I did, the A1 series motors were all built prior to 1960, after which the designation changed to B1.

One source I found indicates that the Minx, Series III started with chassis number A1 900 001 in Sept 1958. If it follows the trend of the Alpine, the engine number should match the chassis number to some degree.

Another source indicates that the Hillman Minx Series 111 De-Luxe Special cars ran from chassis # A1900001 to A1965001, which ends a bit before the motor I'm looking at. I haven't found any other leads to follow.

The motor has clearly been well preserved. It takes about the expected effort to turn the motor over, and the output shaft on the transmission turns respectively.

I read that sometimes a cast iron block was used to replace the aluminum Alpine block by some mechanics. I doubt that is the case here, but I'd appreciate hearing opinions from those more familiar with the specifics.

As it stands, my preliminary working assumption is that this equipment is out of a 1987 Hillman Minx Series III, but it looks so similar to some of those early Alpines that I have to wonder if it's in any way related.

Do the Minx really have "Sunbeam" stamped on their engines? Is this thing worth hauling home and reviving? Are they rare or common? Would the starter, alternator, distributor, etc be worth passing on to someone with a project car? I just hate to see it all go to the scrap heap if there's any value in it.



Mickey Richaud
12-22-2006, 12:08 PM
Welcome to the Forum!

You might want to add your post to the "Other British Cars" Forum, as it will get more exposure. Several of our folks might be able to ID your engine, but may not check in with the Sunbeam Forum.

Glad to have you aboard!


12-22-2006, 02:18 PM

Although I am far from a Sunbeam expert, that engine looks like an ordinary 1600 or 1725 Alpine twin-carb engine. The tubular exhaust header appears to be an aftermarket item.

Sunbeam engine blocks are cast iron, so a magnet should stick to it. Newer Sunbeams use an aluminum head while older cars use cast iron heads.
With the "Sunbeam" casting on the valve cover, this could also be a Rapier engine. (I think) They were available with twin carbs also.
There was also an older, smaller Sunbeam engine (around 1400cc) that I think is also quite similar.
Many nice-running Alpines had their engines removed, to be converted into "Algers" (an Alpine with a Ford V6 or V8 dropped in....sort of a home-brew Tiger). Maybe that is where this engine came from.

12-22-2006, 02:36 PM
Thanks gentlemen. I went back and re-read the webpage I was looking at last night and you're right. It says the *head* on an Alpine is aluminum..not the block. A cast head requires a different cam than an aluminum one.

The "A" in the engine code still stumps me. All the Alpine engine code data I've seen online start with "B".

12-22-2006, 02:56 PM
I believe that it is not for an Alpine. The Sunbeam Talbot 90 in 1949 used an 'A' prefix for engine numbers, and otherwise it was used on that series from 1950 to 1959. I would guess that you have a unit for the Sunbeam Talbot! The numbers are not easily readable, which doesn't help.

12-22-2006, 03:10 PM
Ah, another theory.........Sunbeam Alpine is a possibility, but the early one, of the kind driven by Grace Kelly in the movie "To Catch A Thief" with Cary Grant. Introduced in 1953.

12-22-2006, 03:41 PM
What you have was probably fitted to a series 1 or 2 early 60s Alpine. My guess would be a series 1 that broke it's crank, they had a tendency to do that, and was repaired with a used sedan short block. Manifolds and transmission are early series Alpine and the block could be anything from a 1.4 to 1.6 liter. It's not a later 1725 since they used a different oil pump and pane with the dipstick going into the block. You can determine the size by looking on the starter side of the block, there should be a casting date and displacement there.

12-22-2006, 05:23 PM
Good info from Mike.

Since I was bored, I found some Sunbeam Alpine engine pictures (thanks to GOOGLE IMAGES (https://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=sunbeam+alpine+engine&btnG=Search+I mages) ).
Not sure about the first picture, but the next three are all from a 1725 Mk 5 Alpine.





12-22-2006, 09:30 PM
Greetings back at ya...Just found this website because I'm trying to find a good British parts supply. I'm responding to you because of your "what engine is it?" post. It just so happens that only yesterday I had a 1948 Sunbeam Talbot 90 follow me home....HONEST...it just followed behind me like it was chained to the trailer I was towing. According to the sellor, IT RAN WHEN HE PARKED IT...... 1984, he said. Anyway my 90 has an old Ford Pinto engine in it which has to go.
The 1948 Talbot 80 was powered by an 1185cc engine from the Hilman Minx, the 90 was powered by a 1944cc Humber Hawk engine. Around 1950 the engine was increased to 2267cc.

So if what you have is actually a Talbot engine of any year, I only have 3 questions for you:

1) Does it run?
2) Do you want to sell it?
3) How much?

Appreciate a response whether or not you still have it.
ANYBODY OUT THERE KNOW OF ANY SUNBEAM TALBOT 90 PARTS FOR SALE? Especially door handles/locks/turn indicator arms and motors. What the heck, if it fits a 48-53 I probably need it.
Thanks much

12-23-2006, 09:02 AM
Thanks Mike P, that's EXACTLY the kind of insight I was looking for to identify the engine. It makes a lot of sense to me.

RFJ, You're quick on the draw...I don't even have the darned thing home yet...hopefully soon. I'll email you if I decide to sell it after I'm done playing with it. Where in the land of Potatoes are you?

12-25-2006, 09:02 PM
You can cross reference the Block SN from this list:


It does appear to be a Minx motor.

12-26-2006, 12:00 PM
Well, I got the motor home and have confirmed that the head and intake manifold are aluminum (as well as parts of the transmission housing).

The motor ID number is A1985752, which doesn't seem to fit into any of the categories in the link Sunbeam74 provided above, and which I used before to try and trace this out. It is, of course, a bit of a stretch to assume every given motor number will follow the chassis number designations listed on the link.

The motor has a date of December 1959 cast into it, but I can not find the displacement spec on the block.

As it stands, the fuel filter area has some damage, the distributor cap is broken, and the carb linkages are too tight/corroded to move smoothly. The transmission will shift into each gear.

My next step is to get dig out my compression tester and start assessing the internals.


12-26-2006, 12:13 PM
Well R Johnson this wouldn't be the same type engine as was originally fitted to your 90. This is a 4 cylinder, probably with a 59 cast date the 1.4 liter. You're would have been a 6 I believe. I'd suggest you do a search for the Talbot Registry on the web, they'd be an excellent resource on it as well as helping to find trim and other stuff you may need.

01-02-2007, 06:43 AM
Actually the 90 runs a 4 cylinder engine, not a 6. But it is still a completely different unit to the one we're discussing here.

Post-war there were 5 different Rootes four cylidner engines.

- old side valve Minx engine - used up until about 1956 and available as an OHV on the Sunbeam-Talbot 80 only

- OHV Minx engine - the one we're discussing here and used from 1955 on Minx, Rapier, Alpine, Gazelle, etc up to the end of the 1970s. Lived on even longer in Iranian Paykans.

- Humber Hawk engine - used up to around 1956 on Hawks, S-T 90s and Alpines.

- Imp engine - 1963-81 - This one really was all alloy and used in the various Imp variants and 1970s Sunbeam hatchbacks.

- Avenger engine - 1970 - 1981. Used in Avengers and Sunbeam hatchbacks and continued up until last year in Iranian Paykans.

I haven't counted the OHC Singer engine which was used in early Gazelles as this wasn't a Rootes design.


01-02-2007, 08:17 AM
I would say it was a chrysler replacement block and it is a coincedence with the 1975 number in the casting.All Chrysler replacement blocks for the Alpine were painted blue and one can see the blue where you scraped the crud off.I did have one of these blocks sitting around for a long time.It certainly would appear to be a series 1 or 2. They did have the 6 blade fan.The expansion tank and the water cooled intake manifold also leads credence to this as well as the header type of exhaust.
I see you are using a wheel skate for an engine dolly.I do like them as I do use all 4 of them a lot in my limited space.