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Author: Don Shapland with Bruce Dowell
Publisher: Don Shapland
Vintage Sunbeams, The New Generation 1921-1926 by Don Shapland with Bruce Dowell is a self-published book, that fills a gap in the published history of the Sunbeam Company in the years before they were absorbed in 1935 by the Rootes Group. Bruce Dowell has previously written and published a company history of this period which was supported by the MSMT and a further book chronicling the standout car produced by Sunbeam, the Three Litre Super Sports.
Like many British car manufacturers, Sunbeam reintroduced pre-WWI models once production resumed in the aftermath of the conflict. By 1920, these outdated side-valve models with the foot brake still acting on the transmission, were behind the times and the company needed a modern, up-to-date range of cars but most of Sunbeam's efforts went into racing. Fortunately in 1920 the company merged with the French and British Talbot companies to create the combine known as STD (Sunbeam Talbot, Darracq) which gave a short breathing space. Within a year Sunbeam designed developed and marketed a new range of overhead-valve, modern cars, despite lacking the wherewithal to carry this out. The secret was that they used the basic design of the French Talbot DB with overhead valves and a footbrake acting on the rear wheel drums, adding their own touches, but retaining the basics to the extent that the new Sunbeam 14HP had metric fittings. During the years 1921-1926, the 14HP and its familial models, the 14/40 20/60, 12/30 and 16/50 kept the Sunbeam wheels turning with combined sales of over 5,400 units. These were significant models but whereas the glamorous Super Sports of which production only topped 300 has merited a book, these cars, without which Sunbeam wouldn't have survived until 1926 when the Super Sports was introduced, have not previously had their day in print.
The book commences with the Sunbeam factory and works layout to give the background to the production of the cars. Subsequent chapters contain details of all known survivors of each model using them to chart and illustrate the developments that were made to suit the British market, not just in the initial adaptation of the French design but also subsequent design changes. There are reprints of contemporary road test reports, published technical data and catalogue information. The book contains many illustrations culled from the Author's extensive collection and that of Bruce Dowell, as well as many photographs of the surviving cars.
The Author is well qualified to write this book as he has an engineering background and has owned five cars from the 1920s including two 14/40 models which he has run since the 1960s. Bruce Dowell, as already mentioned has published two books on the pre-Rootes Sunbeams so his assistance adds to the quality and accuracy of this work.
The book is available from the Author.
Contact: Don Shapland, 20 Waterloo Street, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4BT, or at email@example.com or 077 0650 6657