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Homepage. This page: Circa 1914/1915 Sunbeam motor-car in service with the Army in The Great War.

1915 Sunbeam.

Unlike many photos from the era which can be out-of-focus, under- or over-exposed, grainy, and/or poorly framed, this superb old photo - kindly sent over by Peter James in Australia - is crystal clear, and about as good as they get. The car I believe is a 16hp Sunbeam, probably dating to about 1914, and shown in service with the Army. The driver is Peter's grandfather - Major Albert James, of Melbourne, Australia. Bert served in the Motorised Transport Service and Maintenance unit, and the location is believed to be France, close to the Western Front, in WW1.
Clearly the Sunbeam was well-used, possibly as a staff car, its grimy appearance is testimony to this. Any items of brightwork have been painted over, and the vulnerable acetylene headlamps and sidelamps - easily damaged by flying stones and such like while traversing un-made lanes and fields - are shown fitted with protective covers.
Driving in poor weather can't have been fun - while there is a folding roof, there's no screen.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
Sunbeam 16hp car in WW1
Mid-way through WW1, the Sunbeam motor company switched to producing munitions and aero engines for the war effort. However there was still demand for their cars and ambulances, so to meet these requirements, production continued but at the Rover factory, built under licence and with the latter's nameplates attached.
An example of a slightly later Sunbeam, also serving with the WD (War Department), may be found on this page here at OCC.
Many thanks for the photo Peter.
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