header image
Parts
Homepage. This page: An introduction to Glenn's rare Sunbeam Alpine-based Harrington, registration 536 CNW.

Glenn's 1961 Sunbeam Harrington.

Glenn contacted me in October 2009 after seeing this photo of his Harrington Le Mans on the site, taking part in the Rally of The Tests, 2005. He'd recently purchased the car, and sends over this write-up on his rare fastback Sunbeam.
The Sunbeam Alpine Harrington taken a few years ago
"The www.harrington.org website contains all the known history concerning Sunbeam Harringtons, but to summarize, the coachbuilders Harrington converted standard factory Sunbeam Alpines to take their fibre-glass coupe/fastback roof and the cars were then sold through a limited number of Sunbeam dealers. After the 1961 Le Mans success where a Harrington-prepared Alpine won the Thermal Efficiency prize, Sunbeam asked Harrington to come up with a new “commemorative” design – the Le Mans. In total about 200 of the standard Harrington Alpines and 200 of the Le Mans were built, many of them as left-hand drive (LRX) and sent overseas. It is estimated about 140 Sunbeam Harrington cars of all types survive today around the world in various conditions ranging from concours to rust-projects. There is a small but dedicated following for these Harringtons and Harrington car ownership means automatic club membership.
A point of interest is that the Le Mans does not carry the chrome “Alpine” scripting and is therefore not called an Alpine, it has a “Le Mans” script on the wings. This has totally defeated the DVLA and it has been inexplicably listed as a Talbot Alpine for all it’s V5 life, all other details being correct.
“H”, as the car was referred to when I was buying it, had a relatively easy life for its first 12 years, manufactured in late 1961 and first registered in 1962, apparently stored in a car dealer sales show room most of that time. By 1982 however, it had been driven sufficiently for it to require an extensive body restoration with new inner and outer sills and repairs to lower panel rust.
By early 1985 the restoration was complete and photos show “H” in pristine, if not concours condition. We then move into the early 1990’s with ownership by Tony Barron who, the car’s history notes suggest, found details of a rally prepared Harrington Le Mans in the USA and set about using this information to help him change “H” into a full-blown historic rally car. The documentation shows that no expense was spared during this preparation which included full roll cage, fire extinguisher systems and a stage III engine rebuild as per the original Harrington/Hartwell specifications. “H” completed the historic Monte Carlo Challenge 3 times during the 1990’s and subsequent ownership by a group of friends continued the rallying theme with frequent entries into the arduous “Rally of the Tests”.
It’s fair to day that “H” is no longer pristine and certainly not concours, but therein lies a great deal of its attraction. We have a car that has had frequent and lavish attention paid to its mechanical condition, but where competitive rallying has resulted in inevitable visits to rock-strewn roads, trees and walls. Some of the repairs are in evidence when close-up, but the car still looks attractive from a distance. The original wire wheels have been casualties of all the rallying, firstly replaced by Minilites, then finally some standard Rootes steel rims, and the chassis members boast some glorious impact dents, quite impressive considering the Alpine has a very strong crossframe. The last Monte Carlo outing resulted in some heavy front-end damage and later photos show the front bumper present in 2003 seriously askew in 2005 and missing by 2006. The dashboard is an item of pure rallying functionality with additional fuses, relays, dymo labelling and Velcro! The interior lighting has been enhanced to make map-reading easy in the middle of the night, in the snow, on the top of a mountain.
This raises the question, how much work do you do to a car like this? I have decided to keep “H” in its present state, but to overhaul the switchgear, relays and sticky dials, re-fit a front bumper and find some original Alpine hubcaps for the currently bare steel wheels. The FIVA (Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens) passport will be renewed and for the first year “H” will be entered into some non-competitive trials so that we can assess its durability but keep it active at the same time. The stage III engine has been recently rebuilt and a level of trust in its operation has to be gained – what are the acceptable running pressures and temperatures, what additives do we use and how often? A day out to the ARCC spares day in Wescott proved that the engine runs smoothly and the gearbox and Overdrive are in good condition. The gearing feels to be set for maximum low end performance, understandable for rallying, but maybe we’ll build-up an alternative drive-train to give the car an option of higher top speed for normal use. Hopefully a spare set of Rostyle wheels with alternative snow tyres will be considered as an acceptable period modification in order to keep it’s original feel. Rostyles were a popular modification during the late 60’s and early 70’s due to their matching wheel nut spacing and easy availability.
When “H” was delivered and I was able to appreciate its full history it put the V5 term “keeper” into perspective. Owner or otherwise, I am merely the temporary keeper of said vehicle, and my primary role is to maintain the car for posterity and any future keepers. As they say, the car’s the star."
Glenn Brackenridge October 2009
(Former founder member #8 of the Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club and editor of the club magazine)
Two more photos of the Harrington Le Mans car
Thanks for sending the story and photos over Glenn, I appreciate all these owners' stories and contributions. More stories similar to this can be found in the Your Classic Cars section at oldclassiccar

Custom Search
www.oldclassiccar.co.uk (C) R. Jones. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers