The Return of the 1914 TT Sunbeams

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For the 600-mile, two-day 1914 Isle of Man TT, Louis Coatalen entered three twin-cam 3,295cc Sunbeams, which bore a close resemblance to the previous year’s Coupe de L’Auto Peugeots, and nominated the Guinness brothers and Dario Resta as the drivers. A spare car was also taken. At the end of the first day’s racing Resta had retired with big-end failure but the other Sunbeams were first and second. During the second day Sir Algernon Guinness went out when the propshaft universal-joint seized, but K Lee Guinness went on to win at 56.44 mph, from two of the Minervas. His race time was a formidable 10 hr 37 min 49 sec.

After the war the Sunbeam Motor Co had plenty of racing cars to deploy, and in 1923 one of the TT cars was sold to C W F Hamilton. He used it for a honeymoon tour of Europe before shipping it home to New Zealand, where in 1925/26 he had some notable successes with it, in races at Muriwai Beach. One of the 1914 TT cars had been used by L V Cozens at the 1920 Liverpool speed-trials, where it won two classes, making second fastest time. In 1921 Segrave won his class in one of these Sunbeams at the 1921 Holme Moss speed hill-climb, also setting second fastest time.

In the TT, Sunbeam I (No 4) had been driven to victory by Lee Guinness; Resta had Sunbeam II (No 15) and “Algy”, car III (No 21). One of the cars which went into the trade and was given a four-seater body, formed the subject of an article in MOTOR SPORT in November 1930. Its radiator was inscribed IOM-1, but whether this now fully road-equipped Sunbeam was really the winning TT car could not be confirmed.

In later years one of these team-cars was beautifully rebuilt by C R Abbott, and owned later by Stanley Sears, whose son Jack won the 1954 VSCC Pomeroy Trophy with it and repeated the performance in 1963. This Sunbeam is now owned, and occasionally raced, by Neil Corner. Another was run in competitions just after the war and for many years thereafter by Sir Francis Samuelson, whose son has passed it on to Bill Lake.

Now Nick Ridley has acquired the ex-Hamilton car, which has arrived back in good order, and is being restored. How splendid that all three 1914 TT Sunbeams are in Britain once more! WB

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