British Fins – 1964 Sunbeam Alpine

About 20 years ago when it was still not unusual to see British cars (made by a British conglomerate, not an American, Indian, or German one) on the road, Sunbeam Alpines were already a fairly unusual sight. Very distinctive for their fins, and somewhat more luxurious than a contemporary MG or Triumph, they were not in the mainstream and suffered from a reputation for not being a true sports car. However, by contemporary standards, the small luxuries make them usable by today’s standards. Alpines were built in several series, with the first 3 maintaining the rear fins that are part of what makes them similar to a Ford Thunderbird. Last to bear the fins, this 1964 Sunbeam Alpine Series III is for sale in sun Valley, CA for $3200.

1964 Sunbeam Alpine right front

Red is not the most preferred color for this car, but it still works reasonably well for most any sports car. Is it possible to compensate for the color by toughening something else up? How about widened steel wheels, perhaps with no caps? Anyhow, while the car doesn’t run, the engine does turn over, and the seller says it needs new plugs, radiator, and an oil change to be a runner. According to the seller, it also needs a new paint job, but how far could a good wet sand take the current paint job?

1964 Sunbeam Alpine left front

Looks straight down the other side too. How did this car end up out here? It’s clearly been restored and loved at some point in its life – was it in inherited, or purchased on a whim, and then neglected? Is it silly to hope that a solid detailing would make the car work cosmetically, so you could spend most of your time sorting the mechanicals?

1964 Sunbeam Alpine interior

Even the interior looks good. The black upholstery looks like leather, and might even respond to an attack with some Leatherique. A well-known local Lancia mechanic has had success smearing on a conditioner intended for saddles, then covering the seats in plastic wrap and letting them sit for a week. The rest of the interior looks decent and mostly complete, barring a gauge and a couple of switches. Is that the convertible top frame in the passenger seat?

1964 Sunbeam Alpine rear

The trunk is said to have rust, although it is not clear how much. These fins and the integrated tail lights are what make the rear of the car instantly recognizable from a distance. If it hasn’t already happened, fitting a later known-good 1725cc engine would be good for an additional 15hp, bring it to 93hp, which would make this car as quick as any contemporary MG or Triumph. And you’d still get to have your creature comforts.


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