View Full Version : New to forum / Modified Sunbeams

08-25-2002, 05:56 PM
Greetings all,

New member here. Thought I would introduce myself and possibly inspire some commentary.

I've had a Sunbeam of one sort or another in my garage since 1975. Mostly Alpines, but also 2 Imps and now a Rapier. In between, I had a friend's Tiger (for about 4 years!) on which I performed a mediocre restoration. He was quite tolerant of my inability to produce a show quality car and yes, he is still my friend. At least I learned enough while working on his car to get me to the point where I am now doing what I hope turns out to be a car show winner. Except that it will not be an "original" Sunbeam.

Seems that I don't have the ability to leave well enough alone. Following my first series I Alpine, I've modified every car since. By the time that I sold my series V in 1998, it sported a Ford V6, Nissan indepent rear suspension, and numerous detail changes. My first Imp was nearly stock, but still had Mazda seats and a unique paint job. My second Imp was extremely modified, but to period specifications (998cc, lowered, front radiator, etc).

And now I'm working on the mother of all modified Sunbeams. When complete, my series II Rapier convertible will be powered by a fuel injected Ford 5.0 (aluminum heads, radiator, flywheel),with a T5 5 speed, and will ride on a complete (although narrowed) Nissan 280ZX suspension, right down to the struts/disc brakes/rack & pinion. Tieing all of the above into the Sunbeam unibody has been challenging but fun. And oh yeah, the interior will have air conditioning, power windows/locks, comfortable seats (in leather of course), and a nice stereo.

So I am curious. How many folks think that the above is sacrilegious? For the record, I plan to drive the car a lot. My wife and I plan to take it on cross country trips and if it handles at any point above being dangerous, I will auto-cross it regularly. I know that Sunbeams seem to end up being modified more than some other marques, but that an original Sunbeam is still a pleasure to behold. I can appreciate an original car, but they are not as easy to drive as a newer vehicle. And as I get dangerously close to 50 years of age, I no longer wish to struggle just to drive in "modern" traffic.

What do you all think? Anyone else out there who likes to "make a few changes" to an already adequate car?

Tony Fontaine

08-26-2002, 09:12 AM
There are many of us who have modified our sunbeams. Most however are the V6 conversions. My 62 has been on the road since 1978 and we just passed the 130000 mile mark since we modified it. It has thw 2.6 V6 warmed over with mustang 2 front suspension with 8" ford rear end. Fenders are flared with seats from a capri. Very comfortable and we have driven 900 miles in one day as well as up to a couple of long trips such as 5000 to 6000 miles. To see my real 64 alpine modified car go to sunbeamalpine.org and look at feature back issue for February 2001. I do have a stock 65 tiger as well as a stock 63 alpine which one of my sons uses all the time. enjoy evry day.

08-26-2002, 02:02 PM
Well, there will be those to whom "factory original" is the only acceptable way. Personally anything you do to your property is your business when deciding what you want. To me a car that doesn't have a history, ie racer prototype etc, is not something I'll worry over if it's not "correct". I can find appreciation for good workmanship or unique ideas even if I wouldn't do that myself. The only opinion you need to woory about is your own. And better modified than scrapped..

08-28-2002, 10:48 AM
The only time I wince at a car being modified is if it is rare or historically significant. If a person is building a project car for personal enjoyment starting with something very rough, it makes sense to use more modern parts (electric fuel pump, dual reservior brakes, seat belts). The finished product will be safer and more drivable than an original or faithful restoration, although there may be a more limited market at resale.

08-28-2002, 08:31 PM
I still have a stock 63 alpine . My 65 Tiger is stock. The 62 started as a shell with 4 wheels and it was a engine swap that took on a life of its own.As to the Spirit of Lister; I saved a rusted out alpine. As there were only 2 Lister Tigers that raced in the 64 Lemans plus the prototype being rebodied to match, I wanted one.However the price was just too much. I don't know what Sid Silverman's lister went for this past year but it must of been one big price.Therefore I could only build my own and that took a long time. Right now I'm installing mustang 2 suspension on the sunbeam crossmember and I hope that the ackerman problems will be a thing of the past.
So if you want to do a modification; do it. You have only yourself to justify it.Well maybe a whole lot of others as well.

09-28-2002, 11:50 PM
I have two 1961 Series I Alpines. The first one I bought had a non original engine and was very week. So I am now completing the restoration of that car with a V6. Been great fun and it drives like a charm. When I say restoration, I don't mean show quality or anything. But every part that will come off the car has been pulled and worked over.
The second car I bought to save from going to the dump. The body is okay, but the Series III engine was sitting in the cab and is pretty rusted. So guess what. Another V6 project for next year and the year after at the rate I seem to work on them.

09-29-2002, 09:30 AM
Hey 61 Alpine.
Who says that you have to finish right away?. This is done for pure enjoyment not as another job.My "spirit of Lister" took 9 years. Mind you I did the 65 tiger in those 9 years. Working on my cars was one of the best stress relief things ever. Could come home frustrated after trying your best to satisfy a customer. Go into the garage and maybe accomplish nothing but come back out after a couple of hours and the world was great again so enjoy. images/icons/cool.gif The sun is shining

10-28-2002, 01:18 AM
Go ahead.. do what you want. I rolled the drive train from a destroyed Tiger into my 63 Alpine.

Got some strange looks from some Tiger people cause of the big fins, but no-one tried to punch me out or anything!

10-28-2002, 03:07 PM
You were not the first to have a 63 V8 conversion but I'm glad you did things the way you wanted.No tiger owners will get mad at you unless you try to pass it of as a tiger. In 63 Ian Garrard[father of the tiger] and ken miles[latyer shelby's mechanic] put the 260 into a 63 after shelby wasn't interested.It could rip wire wheels apart.Shelby then came involved. With $10000 from the advertising budget the shelby version was born. Ian drove it to the east coast and then by banana boat to England. Then Lord Rootes drove it. Imagine how far past 100 he would have gone if he had released the parking brake.The 64 Lister has a 351 windsor and has been at the SUNI 3 meet. images/icons/cool.gif I'm smiling as the snow has come and I will soon be skiing as well as working in the garage.

Super 7
11-17-2002, 12:54 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by impster:
[QB]Greetings all,

New member here. Thought I would introduce myself and possibly inspire some commentary.

I've had a Sunbeam of one sort or another in my garage since 1975. Mostly Alpines, but also 2 Imps and now a Rapier.

I really like Imps. I rarely get to see one. I think that they are a cool alternative to a mini. What are they like to live with. I hear that the Climax engines are horribly expensive. Are they usable on the street? Are they too slow for general use?

As far as your modifications are concerned, knock yourself out. Your car your fun. Heck with the "Original Q u e e r s"

11-17-2002, 11:12 AM
In reply to Super7 re Imps:

The Imp is indeed a seldom seen car. Our first one had a warmed over original 875cc engine. As I recall, I had the cylinders rebored (which in itself was a challenge as the first few machine shops I contacted could not bore/hone such a small diameter), and a valve job. The cam was a Sport upgrade and I adapted an SU carb. Yes, the work was expensive but more so because all parts came from overseas.

Our second Imp had a full blown 998cc high compression motor with twin side draft Webers. I purchased the unit partially assembled from a specialty tuner (no longer in business) located in England. The motor was expensive but so isn't any high performance engine. Added to that was the expense of import duties at the airport as well as the hassle of going through customs.

So all in all, the Imp power plant can be costly if you want to make a lot of horse power (our 998cc was rated at 118 hp at about 8800 rpm if I recall correctly) but then, so isn't any engine short of a small block Chevy. If you don't mind chugging along and staying off the highway, the stock engined Imp can be very entertaining. It is no speed demon, but can keep up with in town traffic (if your'e not in a big hurry!). The full blown 998cc Imp can hustle! And at less than 2000 lbs total weight, can be tossed around corners at ridiculess speed.

The biggest challenge probably is in finding an Imp for sale. As they were economy cars, as well as being prone to blowing head gaskets, they were typically driven hard and then abandoned. In fact, my second car (which incidently was a MK II - the only one I've seen in the US to date) came from a field where it had been parked for about 17 years. You just have to be in the right spot at the right time.