Your most interesting article on the 1924 Sunbeams makes me think I should now recount my experience with the Rolls-Royce engined car which you and Denis Jenkinson inspected in the mid 1950s. At that time Bernard Kain (of Bugatti fame) and I were solicitors’ articled clerks in Bath.
Driving to work one morning (the winter of 1955/56 I think) past the Theatre Royal Garage I noticed an interesting Special; most Specials betray their origin in the inevitable features of the chassis on which they’re based. But this one had hubs, running gear and so on, which were then at any rate, quite unfamiliar to me. So, curious, I stopped and went over to the car; as I did so the salesman came out of the garage rubbing his hands and said:
“I’ll bet you don’t know what this car is, Sir”.
“Well, the tax disc says it’s a Sunbeam”, I replied.
“Yes sir”, he said, “It’s the actual car which won the French Grand Prix in 1923”. (Sic).
This seemed unlikely as I had never heard of any surviving car from that mix. The body of this Special was a lash-up and it had a Rolls-Royce engine but if true it was an exciting discovery, so I dashed home early at lunch time and studied the clearest photograph of the 1923 GP Sunbeam I could think of. All the details I had memorised seemed correct so, rather excited, I ‘phoned up Barnard Kain and advised him to go and look at it. He did. The salesman was out of his lair again quick as a flash and his first words to Bernard were, “I’ll give you this car Sir if you can tell me what it is”. Needless to say the immediate reply was, “Why, of course, this is the actual 1923 French Grand Prix-winning Sunbeam”. The salesman just about collapsed but Bernard didn’t pit the car!
I gather from your article that the car can’t have been 1923, but 1924, but in that case do any 1923 cars survive?
A. W. Rippon.
[I think not.—ED.]