Sunbeam 20/30HP Torpedo

Car producer : 



20/30HP Torpedo





John Marston was apprenticed to the Jeddo Works of Wolverhampton as a japanner (metal lacquerer). In 1859, at the age of 23, he bought two tinplate manufacturers and set up on his own as John Marston Co. Ltd. Marston was an avid cyclist; and, in 1877, he set up the Sunbeamland Cycle Factory, producing bikes known as Sunbeams. Between 1899 and 1901, the company also produced a number of experimental cars, but none was offered to the market.

The first production car named as a Sunbeam was introduced in 1901, after a partnership with Maxwell Maberley-Smith. The Sunbeam-Mabley design was an odd one, with seats on either side of a belt-drive powered by a single-cylinder engine of less than 3hp (2.2 kW). The design was a limited success, with 420 sold at £130 when production ended in 1904. The company's first conventional car was largely conceived by T.C. Pullinger, who persuaded Marston to purchase a complete chassis from the French Berliet concern. Exhibited at the Crystal Palace in November 1902, it was marketed as the Sunbeam 10/12, but it was not until 1907, two years after the Sunbeam Motor Car Company had been formed, that the firm produced its first all-British model, the 16/20.

At that point the company started production of a Thomas Pullinger–designed car based on the Berliet mechanicals. They introduced a new model, based on a Peugeot motor they bought for study, in 1906 and sold about 10 a week.

In 1905, the Sunbeam Motorcar Company Ltd was formed separate from the rest of the John Marston business, which retained the Sunbeam motorcycles and bicycles.

The Breton car designer, Louis Coatalen, joined the company from Hillman-Coatalen in 1909, and became chief designer. He soon reorganised production such that almost all parts were built by the company, as opposed to relying on outside suppliers. He quickly introduced his first design, the Sunbeam 14/20, their first to use a shaft-driven rear axle, upgrading it in 1911 with a slightly larger engine as the 16/20.

Sunbeam made a small number of Veterans, and by 1912 were making conventional, high-quality cars. Direct competitors to Rolls Royce, Sunbeams were considered to be a car for those who thought an RR a little ostentatious.

Coatalen also designed a number of passenger cars, notably the Sunbeam 12/16. By 1911 Sunbeam were building about 650 cars a year, at that time making them a major manufacturer.

By the outbreak of WWI, the Sunbeam range consisted of 4-cylinder 12/16 H.P. and 16/20 H.P. models plus the rare 25/30 H.P. Powered by a 6.1-litre six, the Sunbeam 25/30 was one of the fastest and most durable production cars of its day, as evidenced by its setting a new 12-hour record at Brooklands in 1911 at an average speed of 75.7 mph.

Sold for: 177000 USD
Go to restoration
See other models

You may also like these cars

to top