Estimated at £25,000 - £35,000
Registration No: PV 3432
Chassis No: 2926
MOT: October 2022
‘Racing car practice accelerates development. Racing stimulates designers and engineers and raises the morale of the factory workpeople’ (Louis Coatelen)
Having served his apprenticeship at De Dion-Bouton, Clement and Panhard et Levassor, Louis Coatelen joined Humber in 1901 and was swiftly promoted to chief engineer. A keen amateur racing driver, he went into partnership with William Hillman later that same decade and piloted their Works Hillman-Coatelen entry during the 1908 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy race. Recruited by Sunbeam in February 1909, Coatelen was determined to establish the Wolverhampton firm among Britain’s premier sporting marques. His first Sunbeam design, the 14/20, boasted a 3828cc four-cylinder engine developing 54bhp @ 2,300rpm and broke precedent by featuring a shaft-driven live rear axle (though, a chain driven assembly was optional). A spirited performer, the newcomer distinguished itself on the 1909 RAC ‘Ten Pound Note’ Trial (averaging 21.3mpg over the 100-mile road section and 56.65mph around Brooklands) and the 1909 Scottish Six Days’ Trial (finishing 2nd-in-class).
An evolution of the 14/20, the more powerful 16/20 benefited from Coatelen’s initiative to reduce Sunbeam’s reliance on proprietary components. Featuring a sump-mounted oil pump (an industry first), the model was relaunched in October 1911 with a new 4073cc monobloc four-cylinder engine. Based on a 10ft 3½in wheelbase, the 16/20 was equipped with leaf-sprung suspension (semi-elliptic front / three-quarter elliptic rear), four-speed manual transmission and rear wheel brakes. Available with a variety of open and closed coachwork, the Sunbeam’s rugged construction and enviable turn of speed meant that it was a popular Staff Car choice during WW1 which helps explain the tiny number of known survivors.
With several Edwardian Sunbeam restorations under his belt, the vendor jumped at the chance to acquire part of the ‘Maud Hoard’ of disassembled cars following their discovery in New Zealand. Working with marque authority and author of ‘Sunbeam, The Brass Period’ Alan Richens, he identified major components from various different 16/20 cars and set about building them into a single entity. The chassis (number 2926) was refurbished and fitted with new leaf springs. The engine (crankcase number 2624) had its bearer arms repaired / reinforced by Jim Catnach before being entrusted to Cambridge Rebores Ltd (rebored, new liners, fresh pistons: £2,976), JEL Bearings Ltd (new white metal bearings: £1,740) and G&S Valves Ltd (£828.70). The gearbox (number 2447) was overhauled with new bearings and seals as was the back axle. Replacement kingpins and associated bushes were made as was a new drop arm for the steering. The steering wheel was refurbished by Myrtle Ltd, while Longstone Tyres shod the beaded-edge wire wheels. The rakish four- / five-seater Tourer body apes the style of those offered in period and has recently been trimmed with deep button leather upholstery. The radiator (number 2403) has been tested and the fuel tank holds pressure. The speedometer sports a ‘The Sunbeam – Watford’ face and the dashboard carries an authentic array of instruments and switchgear. Dynamically balanced, the engine started readily upon inspection and ran well during our recent photography session with the seller happily driving the Sunbeam to different locations in rural Lincolnshire. The electrical system is a total loss one with the CAV lamps housing energy efficient LEDS. Bespoke 18-inch drums give improved stopping power and contain modern linings as does the clutch. A starter motor has been fitted for ease and convenience. There is a hood frame but no hood. UK road registered as ‘PV 3234’ with the help of the Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register, this decidedly handsome Edwardian Sunbeam is worthy of close inspection. Yet to be fully run-in / debugged following its completion, it has much the same appeal as a Prince Henry Vauxhall.
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