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Sunbeam Alpine (1963–1964)

image of sunbeam alpine

Sunbeam Alpine (1963–1964)

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The ‘low key’ roadster that’s keeping it cool

But were more popular rivals up to the task?

Overlooked but never forgotten the Sunbeam Alpine may never have sold like an MGB, but with its more luxurious interior and sharp styling, it was way cooler.

The iconic two-seater roadster was indeed the embodiment of sixties motoring with many fine examples for sale from home and abroad. The Sunbeam Alpine hit the scene in 1959 an although not the quickest roadster, it still performed well considering its humble beginnings based on the Hillman Husky with many parts from the Sunbeam Rapier. The Series II saw a 1592 cc engine developing 80bhp With the series III arriving just three years later being  the most refined of the tailfin Alpines, incorporating a surprising number of changes both visible and under the skin. The interior had walnut and quality instrumentation and twin fuel tanks replaced the single tank allowing a much more usable boot space. Brakes have larger front discs and servo assistance. With all these upgrades the series III still kept its distinctive identity as the classic tail fins remained and is now considered the most desirable of the Alpines.

The fourth series Alpine was toned down in the styling department with the famous tailfins being much less pronounced. It did however receive a full synchromesh transmission and an automatic option. Series V saw the final incarnation of the classic roadster with a stronger engine in the form of the 1725cc version.

Specification Sunbeam Alpine (1963 – 1964)

Years Produced1963 - 1964
Performance0 - 60mph 15.0sec / Top Speed - 95mph
Power & Torque 82bhp / 93Ib ft
Engine1592cc / four cylinder / 8 valves
Drive-train Front engine RWD
TransmissionFour speed manual with overdrive
Weight965kg

Valuations since launch for the Sunbeam Alpine (1963 – 1964)

With rarity and desirability the Sunbeam Alpine Series III is in limited numbers. Take a look at the market trends over the last five years as values increase on this retro classic.

 Launch201020112012201320142015
Concours£972£6,000£7,500£8,000£10,000£15,000£25,000
Excellent£3,500£5,000£6,750£7,500£10,000£15,000
Good£2,000£2,500£3,500£4,000£6,000£8,000
Fair£1,000£1,000£1,500£2,000£3,000£5,000

A Buyers Guide – Sunbeam Alpine (1963 – 1964)

Sunbeam Alpine 1962 image- Vital Statistics, Heritage Classic Car Insuance

Sunbeam Alpine 1962, Copyright of Martin Pettitt, Flickr

The Sunbeam Alpine series III was only produced between 1963 and 1964 and so less than 6,000 models were ever produced. Mechanically these roadster were rock solid, however due to the lack of factory supplied rust protection the bodies were not.

The Alpines worst culprit when it comes to rot, are the sills. There is no such thing as an Alpine with original sills, every one left will have had a rebuild here, its knowing whether the job has been correctly done or not, that’s the problem. A poor job will weaken the cars structure and so being able to jack the Alpine up will be a great advantage. Firstly, if it no longer has jacking points there’s a problem, secondly if you can no longer open the doors whilst on the jack, there is a issue with the vehicles overall integrity.

More rust can be found around headlamps and the windscreen as well as at the back of the engine bay, so examine thoroughly. Floorpans can corrode so check inside under the carpets for tell tale signs. Also check the footwells as these are notorious; same goes for the boot floor so inspect everywhere including the rear corners.

Engines are reputably strong and reliable, as are all Rootes mechanicals, the only issues you may come across are potential cylinder head corrosion due to neglect when it comes to replenishing the cooling system. Oil leaks are common as the engines use a scroll type oil seal, also check oil pressure when test driving the car. 15 psi should be showing at idle with around 50 psi at 2000 rpm.

Brake servo seals are a weak point especially with age, but apart from that brakes are reliable, just test them when taking it for a spin. Gearboxes are very useable; just bear in mind series I to III means no first gear synchro.

Despite its dwindling numbers the Sunbeam Alpine has a strong following and is a reliable, useable sports classic. If you want one, and let’s face it who wouldn’t, buy now while they are still affordable.

Insurance quotes for a Sunbeam Alpine (1963 – 1964)

A classic roadster is ideal for weekend driving. Which means you probably won’t be doing many miles a year. This is good news for your insurance premium. At Heritage Insurance with 50 years experience behind us, we offer a tailor made package for one or more cars. We include both our in-house agreed value service and salvage retention should the worst happen at no extra cost. With limited mileage and club members discounts our annual fully Comprehensive policy proves excellent value for money. Here are some typical examples of how little your insurance could be.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 60.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 45.

Annual premium – £85.23 with a £100 accidental damage excess.

  • Quotation based on fully comprehensive cover, insured only to drive age 30.

Annual premium – £87.23 with a £150 accidental damage excess.

*NB: All insurance quotes based on the same criteria:

  • The vehicle garaged overnight
  • The insurer has no record of accidents, claims or convictions
  • The insurer drives a main car daily and doesn’t exceed a mileage of 3000 per annum

All quotations based on an Agreed Value of £10,000. Prices may alter depending on individual criteria. Quote carried out March 2016.

Interesting fact

Forget DB5’s and Lotus Esprit’s, the first Bond car was the Sunbeam Alpine. Starring Sean Connery as 007. The first of the Bond films Dr. No sees JB behind the wheel of the Sunbeam without any Q gadgetry but just his driving skills to get him out of trouble.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Director of Heritage Classic Car Insurance)

“With the sixties roadster becoming less common, prices will inevitably continue to rise meaning mid range soft tops eventually becoming less affordable. Evidence of this is now becoming all too apparent with values having risen by 100% in some cases over the last five years.   Perhaps now is the time to invest?”

insuring a Sunbeam Alpine (1963–1964)