1956 Sunbeam MkIII Supreme

Fabulous example with just 19,000 miles from new; desirable floor change; overdrive; on the Post-War VSCC eligibility list; desirable sports saloon

Launched in 1948, the Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a sporting car built by the Rootes Group in Ryton, Coventry and was the last car to bear the Sunbeam-Talbot name.

The body was completely new and available as a four-door saloon or two-door drophead coupé. The saloon featured a ‘pillarless’ join between the glass on the rear door and the rear quarter window and went through three versions before production stopped in 1956.

From 1954, they dropped the double-barrel name and simply became the Sunbeam Mk III, although the badge on the front refered to them as Sunbeam Supreme. Power was up to 80bhp and the cars were good for 94mph - well into sports car territory. They were were very successful in International Rallies, driven by Shelia Van Damm amongst others.

RXK 97 must be one of the best preserved, lowest mileage examples of these desirable, under-rated and under-valued sports saloons. Dating from 1956 ,the last year of production, this matching numbers car belonged from new to 3 generations of the same well-to-do family on the Island of Jersey. The island is only 9 miles long and the car was there for 61 years, hence the astoundingly low mileage. The mileage showing of 19,195 is warranted genuine, and has been confirmed to the vendor by a friend of the family who lives on Jersey and knows them and the car. It is also supported by various items of Jersey paperwork included with the car.

Purchased direct from Rootes Piccadilly showroom in April 1956 by a lady named Tottie Cooper, it was sold under the Home Delivery Export Scheme whereby if exported within a given period a car could be bought free of all purchase tax.

Accordingly, the car was registered in London with the number RXK 97,which was soon replaced by the Jersey number J 15815, which it carried until reimported to the UK in 2017......luckily it proved possible to get the DVLA to reinstate the original London RXK 97 number.

By the early 1970s the mileage had increased to around 17,000, at which point the car was retired from daily use , dry stored on the family's estate for most of the time and just brought out occasionally. From around 1993 it was fully stored until repatriation.

The car was thoroughly recommissioned during 2018/19, when the following work was carried out: a top-end engine rebuild to deal with low compression due to sticking valves, replacement of all hoses, water pump and radiator, overhaul of fuel, ignition and charging systems including a new fuel tank, battery and exhaust. All filters and fluids were replaced and the braking system was renewed . Four new radial-ply tyres were fitted, but the original 1956 spare remains in the under boot tray. Bumpers etc were rechromed and the carpets renewed, but otherwise the interior remains fully original and shows a delightful patina, with a fully working and non-leaking sun-roof fitted.

The recommissioning also included replacing the original (and rather vague) column change gearbox with a later Rootes all synchro overdrive box with the desirable floor change conversion, a very common and desirable modification on these cars. However, the original gearbox and change mechanism are with the car and could be reinstated if desired.

As the car has the 3.9:1 ratio rear axle, overdrive provides a delightfully long-legged and economical cruising gait at full motorway speeds. In everyday motoring the car is brisk enough to keep up well with modern traffic. Also with the car is the original EKCO radio and powerpack, the ashtray displaced by the floor-change and the blanking plate from where the (originally optional) rev-counter is now installed. The outer Rimbellisher wheeltrims had been mislaid, so the vendor has managed to secure a set, again with the car. A Rootes Archive Heritage Certificate detailing the car's manufacture is also included.

All locks, controls and gauges work properly, although the fuel gauge is erratic, and the clock, like almost all classic car clocks, is recalcitrant. An excellent heater is present and unusually for a 1950s saloon, the car does not overheat.  Also present is the original "Tudor" vacuum operated screenwasher system. The correct tools and starting handle are still fitted in the tray on the inside of the boot-lid. Both chassis and bodywork are in top condition with excellent shut-lines and paint, the car being finished in its original colours, with some of the paintwork believed to be original. Even the 1956 "overseas visitor" sticker remains in the windscreen!

The vendor tells us that out on the open road, this Sunbeam motors really well, covering the ground effortlessly and giving mpg in the high 20s. It feels taut and is completely rattle-free as befits a car with such low mileage and which has never been restored or taken apart. It is also always an instant starter both hot and from cold.

These charming and compact 1950s saloons are on the recent list of post-war sporting cars that are now eligible for VSCC membership and competition, an added bonus. RXK97 was driven more than 170 miles to the sale with no problems (possibly its longest journey since delivery new?) and is only now reluctantly for sale due to the vendor's loss of garaging space. This gives a lucky purchaser a rare opportunity to buy at a moderate figure a true "timewarp" car in top condition, possibly the best example of this Monte Carlo rally-winning model currently available and probably the lowest mileage example in existance.

For more information - contact matthew.parkin@brightwells.com

Reg No: RXK97
Chassis Number: A35042389RS0
Engine Number: A350423899RS0
Engine Size: 2267
Docs: V5C, Import Documents, Factory Register Information, some Jersey History.

Sale Section & Buyers Premium (ex VAT): Car 12%, Minimum £150

Estimate: £9,500-10,500

Lot 327

Lot ended

Thursday 23/06/2022

Hammer Price (inc. buyers premium)

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