Lot 268 - 1928 Sunbeam 20HP Rally Saloon 'Magnificent Monte'
|Estimate||£125,000 - £135,000|
Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was a British motor car manufacturer with its works at Moorfields in Blakenhall, a suburb of Wolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire, now West Midlands. Its Sunbeam name had been registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901. John Marston Limited's first Sunbeam production car, a De Dion engined voiturette, was sold in 1901, but it was not until 1907, two years after the Sunbeam Motor Car Company had been formed, that the firm produced its first all-British model, the 16/20. The arrival of designer Louis Coatalen and the pursuit of an effective competition programme enabled the marque to establish a formidable reputation prior to World War I, its superbly made products enjoying a reputation rivalling that of the best from Alvis and Bentley thereafter.
Introduced for 1927 and priced from £750 upwards, the first 20HP Sunbeam was powered by a 2,916cc six-cylinder engine and enjoyed a production life of just three years, being superseded by a new ‘Twenty’ in 1931, although this 3.3 litre newcomer was actually rated at 23.8hp.
During the latter part of 1928, the Sunbeam Motor Car Company prepared a car for the Monte Carlo Rally to be held in January 1929. It was essentially a 20.9 but used the long wheelbase chassis of 10' 11.5" which had a four door fabric body built by Sunbeam under Weymann patents. There were 93 starters in the Rally but severe weather conditions of snow, ice and fog so depleted the field, that only 24 cars were declared finishers.
First registered on 31st December 1928 this fabulous and important Sunbeam was built by the same team that put together Sir Donald Campbell’s Sunbeam Bluebird. This wonderful car was known by Royalty in France and England as ‘Monte’ and it completed the Monte Carlo Rally in January 1929 by the car’s then owner, Sunbeam’s own Director Mr Leo Cozens and was entered as UK 6219. It came a creditable fifteenth. As the result of the experience of this car, the 20HP Rally Saloon was offered to the public as a catalogue model at £975. Although Sunbeam entered subsequent cars in the rally in the early thirties, which were more comprehensively equipped, they did not achieve as good results as in their first attempt in 1929.
The crew of UK 6219 was three persons, for in those days the more persons and equipment that could be carried, the more points were earned. The driver was Leo Cozens, sales manager of Sunbeam and he was crewed by Charles Joyce of Pass and Joyce Ltd, Sunbeam distributers in London, and Humfrey Symons, sports editor of 'The Motor'. They enjoyed the luxury of frequent stops for admiring the view and taking photographs. In the pictures Cozens is seen in plus fours and cap, whilst Joyce’s rally attire was trilby and spats. A full account of their amazing and eventful rally can be read as part of an extract from A.C. Hull’s book ‘To Monte Carlo by Sunbeam’.
Included with the car is an extensive collection of memorabilia including, many original photographs depicting the rally and the various areas they travelled through, the participants photographed with dignitaries and other important individuals. Also included are various plaques and clocks which were presented to Leo Cozens by Prince Phillip of Monaco on 17th January 1929 at Monte Carlo. Sadly, a pair of cufflinks presented to Leo Cozens by the Duke of Westminster at Buckingham Palace have disappeared sometime between 1929 and today (the box they came in is with the car however). There is even Leo’s small suitcase containing amongst other items, his portable razor in its box, hair brushes, clothes brush and various silver topped glass containers for after shave and other such liquids. Simply charming!
This famous car, its achievements, originality, condition, presence and memorabilia, made Automobile Car Magazine Editor Pat Walker say/print on 12th July 1983 'Monte is indeed the complete vintage motor car'. The car was also referred to on 6th June 1931 by Prince Henry Duke of Gloucestershire as 'Magnificent Monte'.
The car today is in pristine condition and presents exactly as it did back in 1929. With its fabric bodywork in grey with lovely grey leather interior and door cards to match. The dashboard and instrumentation are in superb condition, as are all door cappings and brightwork including frame mounted sport lights as were indeed used back in 1929 for the Monte Carlo Rally. This fabulous and historically important vintage classic, must be one of the most highly documented and well known of the marque ever produced. A real chance to own a piece of history.
Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.