Showing posts with label Sunbeam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunbeam. Show all posts

Sunbeam S8

Sunbeam S8 1950s British classic motorcycle

Even in England's 'Black Country', the sun still shines. Aptly, then, Sunbeam's factory was located there - in Wolverhampton, West Midlands. From the outset - in 1912 - the company gained a name for classy, reliable motorcycles. They became known as 'gentlemen's machines'. The Sunbeam S8 was one of them. It was made between '49 and '56. Innovation was thrown in, too, for good measure. The first Sunbeam, for example, featured a fully-enclosed chain - keeping both bike and rider clean. Assuming the owner had oiled his chain, that is!

It is fair to say that the S8's predecessor - the Sunbeam S7 - did not exactly smother itself in glory. It was comfortable, certainly - but that was about it. The S7 was overweight, lacked manoeuvrability - and its brakes were not the best. Those deficiencies were redressed - to some extent, at least - by the S7 De Luxe version. It fell to the S8, though, to get the good ship Sunbeam fully seaworthy again.

The S8 was a sports bike. That was only to be expected. After all, development engineer George Dance set speed records on Sunbeams. And, in the early Twenties, Sunbeam won the Senior TT - twice. As far back as 1913, a single-cylinder 3.5bhp Sunbeam raced to success. The twin-cylinder S8, then, was the latest in a string of performance-based Sunbeams. Plainly, S8 stylist Erling Poppe had been inspired by BMW's R75. Indeed, rights to the German-built bike had been passed to BSA - as part of war reparations. Then, in '43, BSA acquired Sunbeam - from AMC. Under Poppe's design aegis, the S8 shed the portliness of the S7. Plus, it now sported a solid set of front forks. Even the exhaust note had been modified for the S8 - to something more sonorous. Top speed was a heady 85mph. Handling had come on leaps and bounds ... not literally, of course. So, all things considered, the Sunbeam S8 shone a warm ray of light on its Black Country roots!

Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam Tiger 1960s British classic sports car

The Sunbeam Tiger was an Anglo-American hybrid. Built in West Bromwich, England, its roots were in Detroit, Michigan. Aptly, then, Rootes was Sunbeam's parent company! At least, until Chrysler took it over. In essence, the Sunbeam Tiger was a Sunbeam Alpine - but with a Ford V8 fitted. Carroll Shelby - he of AC Cobra fame - did early development work on the Tiger. Shelby then passed it to Rootes. The car's 4.2-litre engine was hooked up to a 'top loader' 4-speed gearbox. In turn, a more substantial final drive was installed. The body shell, too, was beefed up. But - with so much on its plate - Rootes was over-stretched. It still had the Sunbeam Alpine in production, too. Riding to Rootes' rescue came Jensen. Their premises were but a stone's throw away from Rootes' factory gates. It fell to Jensen to finish the Tiger project.

Power output for the Tiger was 164bhp. Top speed stood at 117mph. 0-60 came up in 9.5s. Torque - from the Ford V8 - was plentiful, to say the least. Care, though, was required in transferring it to the tarmac. Both steering and suspension were 'suspect'. But - all in all - the Tiger was good value for money. Americans bought it in their droves. British buyers did the same. However, they had to wait a year longer.

So, it was looking good for the Sunbeam Tiger. Until Chrysler's buy-out of Rootes! Chrysler's top brass took an immediate dislike to the car - mainly, on account of its V8 motor. It was, after all, made by Ford! Which would have been fine - had Chrysler had their own V8. Actually, they did. Unfortunately, it did not fit! Sadly, that was the writing on the Tiger's wall. But, all was not lost! Rootes had already built 571 MkII Tigers - complete with 4.7-litre Mustang motors. The Sunbeam Tiger was set to stroll into a few more sunsets yet!