Tag Archive: sunbeam


SUNBEAM – Racer

John Marston (1836 – 1918) was a tin plate worker and was working in a factory making household articles. In 1859 , he created his own company John Marston Ltd to make household articles and black enamel lacquer.
John Marston was a keen bicycle enthusiast and expanded in to manufacture of bicycles in the year 1887. He sold his bicycles under the brand Sunbeam“. It is told that his bicycle was finished with high quality black enamel and golden strips that it was reflecting sunlight and hence the name sunbeam. Many new innovations followed during the next few years – chain slack adjusting mechanism, oil bath lubrication for chains, to name a few.
As a logical extension, John Marston started working on motorcycles. Death of an employee in motorcycle accident made Marston to move away from motorcycle ,  terming it as dangerous.
In 1899 , he started working on motor cars and along with the help of Maxwell Mabley- Smith created the first Motor car. A 1901 Sunbeam-Mabley
This car had unique design of seats facing in opposite directions on either side of a belt drive. More than 100 units of this cars were sold between 1901 and 1904.
A 1902 , Sunbeam –
By 1904, Marston started importing Automobile Darracq chassis and building bodies over it. In order to expand fully in to car business the car division was renamed as Sunbeam Motorcar Company, in 1905. The bicycle business remained with John Marston Ltd. Slow down in car business between 1907 and 1910 forced Marston to look in to Motorcycle business again and the motorcycle division was created in 1912.
In 1920, owning to financial troubles, Sunbeam Motorcar Company merged with Automobile Darracq to form STD Motors ( Sunbeam – Talbot – Darracq). The cars were branded as Sunbeam -Talbot.
STD Motors participated in racing and a Sunbeam with a 350 HP aircraft engine set the land speed record in 1920.
In 1924, Sunbeam introduced a 3-litre sports car with a six-cylinder engine , with twin overhead camshafts and dry sump lubrication , a major innovation of that time.
A 1924 , Sunbeam 3-litre –
A 19332 , Sunbeam 20 –
By 1935, STD Motors was in financial trouble and was taken over  by Rootes group. Rootes group was a major automobile group with many British marques – Hillman, Humber, Singer, Commar , Karrier etc, They integrated Sunbeam, Talbot in to the group and did badge engineering to bring out cars with various combinations.
Some of the famous Sunbeam cars under Rootes group were –
A 1948 , Sunbeam – Talbot –
A 1964 , Sunbeam Tiger –
Between 1964 and 1967, Rootes group was slowly taken over by Chrysler and formed Chrysler UK, which later became Chrysler Europe. Sunbeams and Talbots continued under Chrysler Europe.
By 1978 , the Sunbeam and Talbot marques were taken over by PSA Group (Peugeot) and the Sunbeam marque disappeared after 1981.

The Sunbeam Logos

The original Bicycle logo with Black enamel and Golden stripes –

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Alexandre Darracq (1855-1931) , a Frenchman , created Gladiator Cycle Company in 1891 and was very successful in the business. In 1896 , he sold the bicycle company and formed Automobiles Darracq et Cie. Initially Automobiles Darracq was involved in electric carriages, Millet motorcycles and Adam Opel automobiles.  In 1900, Darracq built its first car and was the first to use pressed steel chasis and was one of the first cars to be manufactured using factory machine as compared to skilled labour.
A 1901 , 6.5 HP Darracq –
Alexandre Darracq expanded his geographical footprint by licensing his car designs.
In 1902, he licensed his design to Adam Opel of Germany who made cars branded as Opel-Darracq in Germany.
In 1905 , he formed A. Darracq and Company in Britain.
1906 , he licensed his design to a group of Italians and formed the company Societa Automobili Italiana Darracq (SAID) in Milan. This company did not do well and in 1909, a new company was formedAnonima Lombarda Fabbrica Autombili (A.L.F.A). This company flourished and was later taken over by Nicola Romeo which became Alfa Romeo.  A 1910, 24 HP A.L.F.A-
In 1907 , he licensed his design to Spain and formed Sociedad Anonima Espanola de Automiviles Darracq.
Darracq was heavily involved in racing and Darracq cars won many race events. Darracq was holding the land speed record in 1904 and 1905.Louis Chevrolet was one of the famous test drivers for Darracq. A Darracq racer –
Alexandre Darracq retired from business in 1913 and sold out his holdings to Britisher Owen Clegg who took charge of Automobiles Darracq. In 1919, Darracq acquired Talbot and in the next year Talbot-Darracq was merged with Sunbeam to form Sunbeam-Talbot- Darracq (STD)combine.
The STD combine collapsed in 1935 and was taken over by Rootes group. Rootes group went in to financial trouble in 1964 and was acquired by Chrysler Eurpoe. In 1978, Peugeot and Renault acquired the brands from Chrysler Europe.
The Darracq logo –