Monday 25th March 2019,
Inopian

Sunbeam Alpine GT Series V 1965 – 1968

The Alpine was a much-maligned sports-car, not as masculine as the MGB, or that was the general opinion. The truth was that it was a lot more civilized than the `B`, quieter, more comfortable and better finished. The Alpine V was the last of the Alpine line if you don`t include the Chrysler Fast-back Alpine of 1969, which most folks do not!  Horrible! The Alpine V GT was the best of the series and that`s why it`s our subject car.

The 1725 cc motor had 5 main bearings and sat on 4 rubber engine-mountings, making it almost vibration free. It handled well, was light and quick and, above all, safe. Mechanically there was one problem. With quite a high compression ratio (9.2:1) it would have benefited from a nitrided (hardened) crankshaft. The lack of it would often cause the overload of the crank-pins at sustained high revolutions. I learned this to my cost and to illustrate I will tell you a story from my misspent youth!

Back in 1975 I owned a `68 Alpine GT and very proud of it I was. I was working as a mechanic in a 24hr garage near the motorway. Through the night police patrol car crews would call in for tea and buns and I made several friends amongst them. One of the crew, who shall remain nameless, owned a lovely Lotus Cortina MK1. I spent many happy hours servicing and tuning it, and we became firm friends.

On the night in question he turned up at about 2am in a Triumph 2.5 Pi cruiser. I always made fun of the Pi`s because they always struggled to start. He said, in defence of the Triumph, `you couldn`t catch it in THAT` pointing at my beloved Alpine. So… we suspended the Road Traffic Act and went out on the motorway for a burn-up! I should mention that the motorway dead-ended at Bristol in those days due to a missing bridge and it was deserted at night. We were neck-and-neck until, after about 5 minutes at 100-plus mph, my crankshaft melted!

It was humiliating being towed back to the garage by a police car! I had the Alpine’s engine re-built with a nitrided and balanced crank and balanced fly-wheel and enjoyed many more miles of suicidal motoring! The engineer/friend who re-built the engine took a big skim off the head, pushing the CR up to 9.9:1, total magic but it made the motor a little lumpy. The man said that he`d put it on a Dyno and got 115 bhp. It went like a greased rat.

Another problem with the Alpine GT was the roof. It didn`t have one! To explain, the car came with a very nice hard-top, weatherproof and quiet. It also had a rear seat which was nothing more than an upholstered parcel-shelf. Supposedly for two children, it was only big enough for two VERY small children. Nobody in his right mind would carry two tiny kids in the back of an Alpine with the roof off. Bear in mind that no seat-belts were available at this time.

Trouble was that these kids were occupying the space where the soft-top would have folded down into. That is, if you had one. So the choice was either kids or a roof, I know what I would have chosen! To be driving in an English `summer` with no roof and two kids fighting in the back is the stuff of nightmares! The standard roadster version had the usual soft-top with a hard-top optional (but no kids!)

The chassis and body;

Unitary steel box-section chassis frame, `X` braced. It was very strong (strong enough for the Tiger V8) and surprisingly light. The front suspension was coil and wish-bone with telescopic shock-absorbers mounted inside the coil-springs, an interesting innovation. A torsional anti-roll bar stiffened the front end. The rear suspension used semi-elliptic springs with telescopic dampers. Steering was by Burman recirculating ball and was precise, though rack&pinion would have been better. Regrettably the `sealed-for life` ethos had arrived, there were no grease-points anywhere. `Life` was about 5 years! Brakes were by Girling, discs at the front, drums at the rear, with a servo. Steel wheels (600×13) were standard with chromed hub-caps, wire wheels an optional extra, even on the Alpine GT. Twin 5 gallon tanks were fitted with one fuel-filler, a nice chrome `Monza` hinged one. The 12 volt battery was mounted under the rear `seat`, charged by a 35 amp/hr alternator.

The interior;

The Sunbeam’s interior was very attractive, usually in black vinyl. The seats were sporty, comfortable and reclined (a bit). The fascia was burr-walnut veneer with matching door-caps. Instruments were comprehensive with a central clock (GT only). A quality wood-rim steering wheel was fitted (GT only), with telescopic adjustment.

Power-train;

The 1725 cc four-inline OHV unit was cast-iron with an alloy head. The eight valves were inclined. Twin Stromberg CD150 carburettors fed the fuel in. The engine sat on four rubber mountings which nullified any vibration. The motor produced 93 bhp and 103 ft/lbs of torque. Compression ratio was 9.2:1. An oil-cooler was fitted as standard. The kerb-weight was 965 kg giving a power-to-weight ratio of 95 bhp per ton. The clutch was a Borg&Beck 7.5 inch diaphragm type. The transmission was a very smooth and positive all-synchromesh 4-speed with an optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive on top and 3rd gears.

Driving impression;

Having exposed myself as an unmitigated lover of the Alpine V what can I say? I often drove my dear Mother to London for shopping (100 miles, no motorway) and she loved it and usually went to sleep! Not bad when she was used to travelling in my Father`s MKX Jaguar! Smooth, quiet and comfortable it was a lovely drive even though I had a 60 mph limit to observe, (Mother`s rules!) Exceed 60 and I`d get a slap around the head. The whole package was typically Rootes Group, a fine blend of luxury, performance and high quality finish. With a top-speed of 105 mph and a 0-60 time of 13 seconds it was respectably quick.

Notwithstanding the popular myth that it was a `hair-dressers car` it was fun to drive. Extremely beautiful, I`d love to own one today.

 

Sunbeam Alpine GT Series V 1965-1968
 
 
Body Type2+2 seater Drophead coupe
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Brakes
FrontDiscs
RearDrum
Dimensionsmminches
Length3962156
Width153760.5
Height130851.5
Wheelbase218486
Cargo VolumeVery usefull
Engine1.7 OHV Twin CD150 carburettor
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1725 cc105.3 cui
Power69 Kw93 bhp5500 RPM
Torque140 Nm103 ft. lb3500 RPM
Power/weight96 bhp/t
FuelPetrol
Top Speed169 km/h105 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph13 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Urban11.824
Extra-urban7.836
Combined9.430
Gearbox4 speed manual+overdrive (optional)
Weight965 kg2127 lb
GD Star Rating
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Sunbeam Alpine GT Series V 1965 - 1968, 9.8 out of 10 based on 6 ratings
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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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