Founded by John Marston, a Victorian industrialist with a vision for private transport, Sunbeam initially made high-quality, albeit pricey, bicycles. Although newcomers to the car industry, their Wolverhampton-based factory swiftly gained a stellar reputation in the booming Midlands motor industry alongside Lanchester, Wolseley, Austin, and Daimler.
Their first car, the Sunbeam 10/12, emerged in 1902, originating from a French Berliet chassis, but it wasn’t until 1907, two years after forming the Sunbeam Motor Car Company, that they produced their first all-British model, the 16/20. Designer Louis Coatalen, joining in 1909, elevated Sunbeam’s status. The pursuit of competition and Coatalen’s talent allowed Sunbeam to compete with the likes of Alvis and Bentley.
Before WWI, Coatalen’s Sunbeams achieved numerous wins at Brooklands and set speed records. After the war, they remained active in high-level motorsport, supplying cars to Henry Segrave, who made history by winning the 1923 French Grand Prix in a Sunbeam, marking the first British driver to do so in a British car. Segrave’s car featured a state-of-the-art 3.0-liter twin-overhead camshaft racing engine designed by Vincent Bertarione.
Segrave’s Sunbeam secured two more Grands Prix victories in 1924. In 1925, Sunbeam entered two 3.0-liter twin-cam Super Sports road models in the Le Mans 24-Hour race, with one finishing a remarkable 2nd.
Leveraging their Grand Prix racing experience dating back to 1914, the production model 24/60 boasted a sturdy overhead-valve six-cylinder engine, powerful Claudel carburetor, and advanced features like a four-speed in-unit gearbox and torque tube back axle. It provided both luxury and thrilling performance with the right bodywork.