V-to-C: A Sunbeam's Birthday

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Birthday parties given by owners to their favourite cars are not unknown. In 1940 Anthony Heal gave such a celebration at “The Ely” near Camberley for his 1919 5-litre Ballot, on its ’21st’. and there have been other such occasions. We remember going to a very pleasant party at Silverstone to commemorate the 30th birthday of the 1908 GP ltala, and only last July Jack Williamson and Cecil Clutton gave another, at the same venue, to mark Clutton’s 50th year of participation in VSCC racing with this venerable 12-litre. Unfortunately we could not attend that party but we did go to the one given by Anthony Heal, at his home at Knotty Green near Beaconsfield for the 60th birthday of his 1926 3-litre Twin-Cam Sunbeam, a car which must be well-known to regular readers of Motor Sport.

Other surviving Twin-Cam 3-litres of this make were invited and it was astonishing that thirteen turned up, out 14 acceptances, the absentee being McWilliams fabric saloon, with some excuse as it is stationed in Scotland. But thirteen Twin-Cams in sound order, out of perhaps 36 that have endured, the world over, of the 315 Sunbeams of this type made during the limited production run from 1925 to 1929, was very satisfactory. Most of those attending Heal’s party were the standard four-seater open cars with cycle-type mudguards, of which Cameron Millar’s is thought to have been the last made, in July 1929, with bigger headlamps than usual and in its original varnish finish. In contrast. Mance brought his handsome 1926 boat-tail Gordon England coupé from Farnham, a one-family car, John Howell’s familiar racer with big supercharger came from Sussex on a trailer, and Mick Collis was there with his Carbodies 2-3 seater. Tom Tyler’s 3 litre was originally one of the blown cars, but now has twin Claudel-Hobsons, and Geer’s is another of the ex-blower 3 litres, once raced by Hammond the cricketer. Tom Heeson was giving the dog some fresh air in his 1926 tourer and Anthony Jones’ Sunbeam stood out by reason of its smart cream paintwork.

Apart from these Twin-Cam 3-litres paying homage to Heal’s YP7363, Dowell had come in his sporting Sunbeam 25, and present also were a Sunbeam Dawn and a Sunbeam 16 two-door, four-light saloon, and the family Sunbeam 20 saloon restored by Heal’s son. Among personalities who accepted invitations were the STD Register’s President, the PRO and the Editors of its Bulletin and data-sheets, four more owners/ex-owners of Twin-Cam 3-litres, representatives of the old Sunbeam Company, and those associated with Heal’s own car. And in the house, not only did Mr and Mrs Heal serve, to use a 1920s expression, a sumptuous tea, but many Sunbeam documents and photographs were on view. It was enough to make one forget that the British Grand Prix was in furious action over at Brands Hatch! —W B.

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