1921 Sunbeam 24hp 4.5 Litre Saloon
Chassis Number 24/7052/21
Registration Number: L9897
A very rare survivor with a delightfully original & period feel to it excepting the brand new carpets & hide to the seats.
L9897 was purchased new from Howells of Cardiff by the Lord-Lieutenant of Glamorganshire, Robert George Windsor-Clive, 1st Earl of Plymouth, as his ceremonial car. He was born on 27th August 1857, the son of Hon. Robert Windsor Clive, Member of Parliament for Salop, and Lady Mary Selina Louisa, daughter of 2nd Earl of Bradford. He was the grandson of Baroness Windsor, whom he succeeded as 14th Baron Windsor in 1869 (see file for biography). He died on 6th March 1923, 2 years after acquiring the Sunbeam.
After his death, it is believed that the car was willed to his chauffeur for whom it was too big and too expensive to run, but he kept it until eventually in 1955 Bill Boddy heard that it was in a garage in Llansamlet in South Wales. Roger Carter was told of its existence by Bill at an Esso House Rally and he and Ernie Price drove down in June 1955 in Roger’s Sunbeam 23.8 to recover it.
Roger said that the engine was basically in good condition and was probably overhauled just before being laid up (STD Journal 36, 1956, p6). It was towed back to Roger’s home in Hertfordshire. Further information about the condition of the car is given in STD Journal 60, 1962, p12, and in this article Roger describes what needed to be done before he was able to drive it to the Wolverhampton rally in 1955.
Peter Moores acquired the car in June 1964 and then Jack Gillam bought it from him in December 1981. James Bidwell Topham, the son of Mrs Topham of horse racing fame, then owned the car from August 1986 until David Cantor acquired it in 2001. It then went to Keith Womersley in June 2004. The current owner acquired it in April 2005 from Keith Womersley via David Cantor.
Extensive works have been perfomed upon the car in recent years as follows:
2005/6: Cylinder blocks stitch welded by Stitchweld, Burton-on-Trent. New valves with oversize stems manufactured by G&S Valves. New valve springs, guides reamed to 13/16" to take the new valves. Brass water manifold acquired from Bruce Dowell and fitted in place of badly corroded aluminium manifold. Front transmission universal joint rubbers (Mike Collis) replaced. Brakes restored to correct pattern, having been changed by Keith Womersley/Andy Kyle so that the foot brake operated on the rear brake drums, and hand on the transmission brake. Spring gaiters fitted. Front wheel bearings (large only) replaced with spares. Water pump re-packed.
2007/8: Rear axle rebuilt with new 3.4 CWP (Guest Gears) replacing the 3.59 original, which was in good condition. New pinion bearings (Mike Collis). Rear axle oil seals (Phillip Daintree) replaced, brake shoes relined (Bonding and Reline Services Ltd, Leicester) with soft linings. Rear springs set up, rear spring shackles replaced with new ones (Ewart Baldwin), rear dumb iron cross bar, which acts as top shackle pin, and cross tube replaced. Rear lights sorted, with indicator and brake lights. Dynamo and cut-out restored (Pat Durnford).
2009: Coach-painted by me with Tekaloid (except wings). New battery (February).
2009/10: Interior re-trimmed (Richard Creswell, VBE Restorations, Flecknoe) with buttoned leather, new headlining, carpets. Window guides re-furbished. Glass partition with electric winding mechanism installed. Re-wired. Roof re-surfaced. Paintwork professionally re-finished with lining on front and rear dumb irons ( as original—revealed on stripping paint from dumb irons). Clutch re-lined.
2010: Spare engine (acquired from Bruce Dowell) (24/7290/20 stamped on front of crankcase) re-built. Damage (? crash damage) to cylinder blocks repaired by Stitchweld Ltd, Burton-on-Trent), number 1 cylinder valve seat re-built and seats re-cut. Engine work by Roger Harle and Terry Formhalls: cylinder blocks re-bored to +0.070", end plates on water jacket replaced and fitted with 64 SS screws, connecting rod 5 re-forged (was bent on extracting piston from rusted bore), new big end bolts, (DTH Engineering Ltd, Nottingham), new aluminium pistons (FW Thornton), crankshaft journals ground, main and big end bearings white metalled, new timing chains and sprockets (Rodney Fowler), new camshaft (Kent Cams), new valves, new water pump casting (Cooke Group), new top water manifold (Roger Gates)........ This engine is now installed in DA3651.
2011: Dreadnought’s engine re-built. Boring and white metalling by Terry Formhalls: cylinders re-bored, crankshaft and con rods crack tested, crank straightened, and re- ground, new bronze main bearing shells, new Arias pistons. New camshaft made (Kent Cams), new timing chains and sprockets (Rodney Fowler), new valves, clutch re-lined (Bonding and Reline Services Ltd.)
2013: New artillery wheels made using 985 x 135 steel rims manufactured in New Zealand and supplied by Peter Richards in Cardiff, and aluminium castings commissioned by Jim Catnach from his local foundry. The technique used is described in STD Newsletter number xxx. Also, new brass wheel nuts were made by Jim Catnach.
L9897 is a very large and imposing car full of delightful period features & original fixtures & fittings, mostly from Brass. It is a comfortable 7 seater with twin fold out occasional seats that locate into pins that swivel out from behind the rear doors. The black hide upholstry has been very recently fully renewed so presents as brand new, along with new royal blue carpets underfoot. A sonorous klaxon is mounted to the running board & a capacious motoring trunk to the rear.
Coachwork on the car is by Cunard Carriage Works who were based in Putney on the lower Richmond Road. It takes the form of a very upright 4 door saloon, tall in the extreme & with a beautiful curve to the roof line. A Vee windsreen is up front with twin opening windows allowing for a splendid cooling draft of air to enter on hot days. This is a large imposing car & has to be seen & driven to be appreciated. The engine is silent & butter smooth as a result of the comprehensive rebuild performed upon it
A large history file comes with the car detailing the extensive works & also contains snippets such as a 1960 motor rally flyer for Fleet & district carnival week. The dash has a full set or period instrumentation including a Charles A Vanderveld (C.A.V.) Brass switch box centrally mounted.
The car drives beautifully with plenty of power from the big 6 cylinder engine allowing it to lope along at a stately 50mph or so. Floor pedals are laid out in a conventional manner. The gear box is four speed, easy to master & laid out in the mirror image of what we expect today; first being where third might more usually be found. Much money has been spend leaving the car needing notihing doing to it.