The starting point of this project is a 1929 Sunbeam 3-litre chassis and axles. This was salvaged from a wreck in a field in the 1970s by Sunbeam enthusiast Rex Sevier. The chassis was bent and badly corroded. It passed through the hands of various Sunbeam Talbot Darracq owners club members until i acquired it in 2012 as a 'box of bits'.

It is unique in the sense that it is lacking far  too many components to be reconstructed to it's original saloon specification, and yet it deserves to be preserved in some way and not thrown away.

The vision is to re-body the chassis in the style of the 1925 Sunbeam 4 litre racing car driven by Kaye Don. And to find an engine of vintage design with sufficient power to push the car up to 150mph.

(this pic shows the same car with Louis Wagner at the wheel in around 1927)


Here follows a rough log of progress!

The chassis has had extensive repairs to bring it back to a useable condition

Chassis in primer

Pivot and mounting points for the suspension  resized to remove corrosion and new brass bushes to suit with new grease nipples.

All the new components (spring pins/kingpins/bushes/etc...) have been turned on a Chipmaster 5 x 20 lathe

New front kingpins have been made (old pin on the right)

Leaf springs being cleaned (removing wear-ridges)

New spring locating pins (highly worn old pins on right)

New brass bushes for the leaf spring eyes, being reamed to size


New front wheel bearings


A mid-1920s Sunbeam radiator, which came all the way from New-Zealand. As the engine is air-cooled this should save some work repairing the matrix!


The De Havilland aero engine that will be used to power the car. This came from a collector at High Wycombe airfield.


Some modifications are entailed to allow the aero engine to run in a conventional upright position. In it's original inverted layout, each cylinder head cover holds an oil bath for the rockers. When the engine is mounted upright this requires a redesign to ensure that the rocker pins do not run dry and wear.

As each cylinder head  is individual (and all the pin mountings are separate) it requires an oil feed adding into each of the 8 pins which is a bit of a fiddle.

drilledextensions welded on

Marking out new timing case flange

starting point for new front timing cover, to allow for a new oil pump drive and a pair of distributors for the dual sparking plugs

the ubiquitous 28hp vintage lorry gearbox that is often used for this type of unusual high-torque application (~400lb/ft), this came from a chap near Derby.

andappears good internally

Drilling front brake backplates to accept brake slave cylinder mountings

New steel brake shoes to be modified to suit the hydraulic cylinders  (the brake backplates are highly corroded at the edges so these ones are being used as a mock-up to test the new-slave cylinder layout)

Brake slave cylinder fitment

New ball bearings going in the thrust races for the kingpins, and lathing a new seat groove to renew the corroded thrust ring surface (old corroded thrust seat at bottom left)

drilling the locating pin hole past the kingpin

fitting new kingpins, spindles and rejuvenated thrust bearings

trial-fitting brake frontbackplates

trial fitting front axle (to check alignment of chassis rails and spring pin positions after chassis repairs)

Front axle in position (& unrestored wheels & tyres fitted, just to give an idea of the chassis ride-height)

(which is needed to calculate clearance under engine/gearbox/flywheel)

Machining engine mounting plates

Engine Mounting brackets and subframe rails

Existing chassis crossmembers retained, and fabricating an additional crossmember over the back of the engine