Decline

Sadly Louis Coatalen left the company in 1931, at a time when his flair, drive and enthusiasm could have helped to carry the business through a difficult period of recession. Even without him the skilled workforce continued to produce high quality, technically advanced cars.

An advert from 1931.
Another advert from 1931.
A 20hp. Weymann saloon with the sliding roof open.

A sliding roof was fitted at an extra charge of £10.

The 16hp. 6-cylinder,
4-seater coupé with sliding roof, from 1931.

It sold for £695.

The 16hp. 6-cylinder, three quarter  coupé with sliding roof, from 1931.

It sold for £650.


A 20hp. saloon photographed on the Sunbeam playing fields in 1931. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
A new version of the 20hp. appeared in 1931 to replace the earlier model. The car was powered by an excellent 3.3litre engine that could develop 74b.hp. at 3,250r.p.m.

Three versions were available, a running chassis, a 4-seater sun-roof Coupe, and the coach built 6L Saloon. The car remained in production until 1932. A total of 622 were built.

The 20hp. enclosed limousine. From the 1932 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £895.

The 5-seater, 16hp.
6-cylinder coachbuilt saloon.

From the 1932 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £695.

The 5-seater, 20hp.
6-cylinder coachbuilt saloon.

From the 1932 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £795.

 

The interior of the 5-seater, 20hp. 6-cylinder coachbuilt saloon.

From the 1932 Sunbeam catalogue.

The 20.9hp. "Speed" model from the 1932 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £745.


An advert from 1933.

The “Twenty” appeared in 1933 as a replacement for the16hp. and was produced until 1935, during which time 220 were built. The modern-looking car sold for £775.

It began life using existing stocks of the 18.2hp. engine. When stocks were exhausted the 19.8hp. engine was fitted and later followed by the 20.9hp. engine.

At the same time the company produced a more expensive version using the same engine, called the “Twenty Five”. This sold for £1,045 and 309 were built.

In 1935 the “Twenty Five” was replaced by the “Sports Twenty Five”, but only 16 were built.

1933 saw the introduction of the “Speed Twenty”, an updated version of the 20hp. model.

 

The car was produced during 1933 and 1934, and 98 were built in two different forms. The running chassis sold for £500, and the close-coupled 2 door Saloon sold for £745.

 

In 1934 the prices were increased to £525 and £825 respectively.


The "Speed Twenty". Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The "Twenty-Five" saloon.

From the 1933 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £875.

The 4-door "Speed Model", "pillarless" saloon from the 1933 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £825.

The "Twenty" 4-door coupé from the 1933 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £775.

The "Twenty" saloon from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £725.

The "Twenty-Five" saloon from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £875.

The "Twenty-Five" seven- seater enclosed limousine from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £1,045.

The "Twenty-Five" four-door coupé from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £875.

The "Twenty-Five" chassis.

From the 1933 Sunbeam catalogue.

The “Twenty-One Sports” made its debut in 1934 and continued in production the following year. The car used the same chassis as the “Speed Twenty” and 40 were built. In 1935 the body was re-styled. The pillarless 4 door saloon sold for £825, and the 2 door, 4-seater sold for £895.
The "Twenty-One" sports coupé from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £825.

Another view of the "Twenty-One" sports coupé from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.
In 1934 the "Dawn” made its appearance. In order to try and increase sales, the decision was taken to produce a smaller and cheaper model, but still with the usual high quality build.

The car was designed by Herbert C. M. Stephens, an old Sunbeam man who rejoined the company from Singer to design the car, as a smaller version of the “Twenty”. The car featured a 1.66litre, 12.8hp. overhead valve engine with a cast aluminium block. The car initially sold for £485, a good price for a Sunbeam. It soon reduced to £425.

The "Dawn" six-light saloon from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It sold for £425.

The "Dawn" four-light saloon from the 1934 Sunbeam catalogue.

It also sold for £425.


The "Dawn" engine.

The chassis initially cost £345 and was later reduced to £315. In 1935 an updated version with a Meadows gearbox and a swept-back body was introduced.

 

The "Dawn" turned out to be the company’s last fling. The early models suffered from faults with the independent front suspension, and although the problem was quickly rectified, the car had earned a bad name and Sunbeam didn’t have sufficient resources to properly market the car and change the public’s perception.

The Black Country Living Museum's immaculate 1934 "Dawn" six-light saloon.


A "Dawn" four-light saloon..

It seems that quality products alone were not enough. Even though the company also diversified into public transport and sold large numbers of trolley buses, the business could not be sustained.

In 1934 this part of the company was registered separately as Sunbeam Commercial Vehicles Limited.

The aero engine side of the business had not been a great success. Large numbers were produced as part of the company’s war work, but even then many were never paid for, and after the war very few were sold. In July 1935 S.T.D. was purchased by Rootes Securities, who had no interest in high quality cars, only volume production.

They kept the Sunbeam name and quickly closed the car building part of the works. They also had little interest in trolley buses. Initially the bus-building part of Karrier was moved from Huddersfield to Moorfields, and it looked as if Sunbeam buses had a secure future. In 1946 it was sold to Brockhouse, who in turn sold it to Guy Motors. Production at Moorfields continued until the early 1950s when it all moved to Guy’s works at Park Lane. A sad end for the company, especially as so much had been achieved during Sunbeam’s glorious half a century at Moorfields.


   
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