View Full Version : BSA Sunbeam Connection

08-28-2003, 12:08 PM
I ran across this ad that says "BSA Sunbeam Motorcycles, the Best Line for '49". What was the relationship between BSA and Sunbeam?bsa sunbeam (https://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2429150357&category=34240)

08-28-2003, 12:18 PM
I don't claim to be an expert on motorbikes but I do know this much...

Quite often just because the motorbike shared the same name as the car, does not mean they were made by the same parent company anymore, I believe a number of European car companies sold off their motorcycle branch to someone else at various points in history, just for an example...I think I've heard that most Triumph motorcycles were not built by the same parent company that made Triumph cars

Just one possible idea...

tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 12:35 PM
I don't believe there was a link from John Marston's Sunbeam Motorcycle company to the Sunbeam car built by the Rootes Group....&, BSA just added the 'Sunbeam' name to one model of its motorcycle...sorta like my Norton is a Commando or one Sunbeam car is a Tiger...that particular BSA happened to be a 'Sunbeam' model

08-28-2003, 01:08 PM
The Norton factory where your Commando was made was situated on the site of the old Sunbeam motorcycle factory on Marston Road, in Wolverhampton. Here is a link that will give a little more detail.


tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 01:15 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>"As part of the premises faced Villiers Street in Wolverhampton, England (named after local MP Charles Pelham Villiers), John Marston named the new company Villiers Cycle Components, and it soon became a successful company in its own right." <hr></blockquote>
Steve...interesting...so is it 'Villiers' or 'Villiars'? Or, are they different? One a street, the other somebody? My Norton says 'Villiars'...

08-28-2003, 01:44 PM
Villiers, definitely......After Villiers was purchased by Manganese Bronze, it became affiliated with Norton, and became Norton-Villiers Ltd. Quite where "Villiars" came from I don't know.

tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 01:47 PM
Guess I need to relook my identity tag - it may say 'Villiers'

08-28-2003, 01:54 PM
A small quote here

"With the closure of Norton in the mid 70s, Bernard and fellow engineer John Favill started a new company to carry on the development. John left to join Harley-Davidson, and Bernard carried on with offices, workshops and test beds at Halfpenny Green Airport. He was later joined by his graduate engineer son Peter who is now the mainstay of the business since his father's death in 1997."

From this website


Bernard Hooper was responsible for the design of the isolastic engine mounts on the Commando.....the Wulf motorcycle prototype spent some considerable time in our garage at home.

tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 02:16 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>From that site: In the early 70s Bernard Hooper was working for Norton Villiers as chief designer and was responsible for the Norton Commando. <hr></blockquote>
There ya go - guess I read o spelled it incorrectly...its Villiers! Norton Villiers! So, there's kinda a connection between Norton & BSA?

08-28-2003, 02:30 PM
There is, albeit a very tenuous one.

tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 02:36 PM
But, no connection between BSA motorcycles & Sunbeam cars?

08-28-2003, 04:51 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by tony barnhill:
But, no connection between BSA motorcycles & Sunbeam cars?<hr></blockquote>

No, there was no connection. John Marston set up his factory opposite Villiers Avenue (The main entrance was directly facing Villiers Ave.) and then the council named the street that the factory was on Marston Road. On one of my old beats actually. images/icons/grin.gif

tony barnhill
08-28-2003, 10:42 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>What was the relationship between BSA and Sunbeam?<hr></blockquote>

See how we went around the world but came back to answer the initial question? &, it was fun!

08-29-2003, 03:30 AM

Is John Favill a relative of yours? (as I suspect he is..)

My Dad worked at a Rootes factory briefly in the '50s....not sure which one.

[ 08-28-2003: Message edited by: aeronca65t ]</p>

08-29-2003, 03:33 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by aeronca65t:

Is John Favill a relative of yours? (as I suspect he is..)

My Dad worked at a Rootes factory briefly in the '50s....not sure which one.

[ 08-28-2003: Message edited by: aeronca65t ]<hr></blockquote>

You could say that.......he's my father. images/icons/grin.gif

Simon TR4a
08-29-2003, 12:00 PM
Sorry to crash the Sunbeam board guys, I confess to an interest in all British cars and bikes!

Just a small addition, B.S.A. stands for Birmingham Small Arms; the company originally made rifles in Birmingham. The companies roots are displayed on the logo of 3 rifles leaned together so they stand upright. Also BSA was at one time the manufacturer of a "light" car, a very basic piece of transportation. At least a couple of models were produced, one called a "scout".

I remember using a 2 strke Villiers engine from a dirt bike in a go kart nearly 40 years ago!


Simon TR4a
08-29-2003, 12:06 PM
Just remembered something else!
A company called Sunbeam also made motorcycles, perhaps in the 40's and 50's. I think one model was called S7, and was a heavy, slow bike well suited to pulling sidecars. IIRC it had an inline 4 cylinder with shaft drive and very bulbous fenders over the wheels.

tony barnhill
08-29-2003, 12:26 PM
Simon...the Sunbeam Motorcycle Company is the one owned by John Marston that we discussed ealier in the thread...interesting input though!

08-29-2003, 12:46 PM
Don't worry, we are crashing the Sunbeam board too!

08-30-2003, 03:16 AM
A Sunbeam car caused quite a stir in 1927 when it broke the 200 MPH barrier. The car was the "1000 HP Racer". It had two 12 cylinder, 500 HP aero engines and weighted about 3 tons. It eventually got to 203 MPH. A popular child's toy at the time reflected the national pride this car caused. Malcom Campbell eventually bested this car with his Bluebird.
They tried a similar, but longer car (31 feet) later on at Daytona (the Bullet), but it didn't pan out.

Sunbeam 1000 HP racer

child's toy

Sunbeam Bullet

There a nice history of the Sunbeam bikes here:

BSA is still in business, making air rifles:

Simon TR4a
09-02-2003, 11:58 AM
Sorry, I hadn't followed the link earlier, very interesting. Also enjoyed the LSR car post.
This board is virtually an encyclopaedia of info on topics I find interesting.

A question if I may...back in the 1960's I owned a Matchless G80cs 500cc single. The vintage bike mags rarely if ever profile this bike, anyone have any info on Matchless thumpers?
Thanks, Simon.

09-02-2003, 12:53 PM
More on sunbeam cars.
There was also the record holder 4 litre sunbeam back then. I believe it held that record fir 12 years.It did 151 MPH.Sothebys sometime back restored the car and wouldn't put it up for sale unless it did 151 MPH.The youngster who had polished the original drove it and reached
162 MPH.It went for 1.25 million pounds if I remember correctly.
If I'm wrong jump in and or add to this thread

09-03-2003, 12:34 AM
I haven't been on the forum for a while as I've been a bit snowed under with work, but I just discovered this thread.

I've done a fair bit of research over the years on the history of the Sunbeam marque. There's a link to my website somewhere on this message if you want to read in more detail.

Anyway, John Marston owned a company that made a diverse range of products. Along the way he started making bicycles under the Sunbeam name. From bicycles, Sunbeam went on to make cars and motorcycles.

Over time the various branches were split off and became independent of each other. The car division became a separate company very early on -soon after the turn of the century - but John Marston remained at the helm until his death in, errm, without looking it up, about 1918. The car company then merged with the Anglo-French Darracq/Talbot combine.

Sunbeam Talbot Darracq spent huge sums on motorsport, not only setting land speed records, but winning grands prix, placing at Le Mans, etc. Sunbeam was probably Britains most successful racing car constructor until the depression brought it to it's knees.

Rootes stepped in to save it, planning on making Sunbeam their top of the line make - above Humber, aimed at Daimler, Rolls-Royce, etc. Somewhere along the line they decided they couldn't do this profitably, so instead Sunbeam was merged with Talbot, whose British arm they had also bought, and the cars became Sunbeam-Talbots. Eventually the Talbot bit was dropped and they reverted back to being Sunbeams again.

(Rootes did not buy the French arm of Talbot. This later became part of Simca. Chrysler bought Rootes and Simca and merged them together bringing the two halves of Talbot together again!! Then when Chrysler sold Rootes/Simca to Peugeot, the Talbot marque was revived briefly again.)

The bicycle and motorcycle divisions were taken over by ICI initially. ICI sold the motorcycle arm to BSA later on. BSA built bikes under the Sunbeam marque for many years, but killed them off in the '60s. The last model was the BSA Sunbeam motor scooter.

ICI eventually sold the bicycle arm to Raleigh. Raleigh used the brand up into the 70s, and I think it died sometime around then.


09-03-2003, 12:42 AM
I forgot to add, although the Sunbeam name has disappeared, Marston products can still be bought.

Serck Marston is a well known radiator producer, which is descended from John Marston's group.

A few years back I also bought some Marston gasket sealant which I proudly applied to my Sunbeams!

09-05-2003, 05:16 PM
Thank you for the information!

tony barnhill
09-10-2003, 09:06 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Whew!<hr></blockquote>

About sums it up - thanks for the quickie history lesson....does this go towards proving there are only 6 cars away from a direct connection to any car?

09-10-2003, 12:29 PM
Now THERE is a good subject for a new thread!!!!!

tony barnhill
09-10-2003, 12:36 PM
"...6 cars away from a direct connection to any car?"
...would be interesting to figure out which cars tie into which...

Gary Lloyd
09-10-2003, 11:29 PM
This looks scarey to me!! (I am going to try and post the picture, but have never done it here before) It looks like it would direct the air right under it!! (let see what happens don'tlaugh if it doesn't work!!) https://www.landspeed.com/histimage/seagrav1.jpg OH!!! Very interesting thread!!!

Gary Lloyd
09-10-2003, 11:30 PM
WOW!!!!! graemlins/cheers.gif graemlins/driving.gif