Sunbeam is another British brand that was registered by a former company known as John Marston Co Ltd in 1888. Like almost all its contemporaries and peers, John Marston was originally a designer and manufacturer of bicycles. From the production of bicycles, the company branched out to produce motorcycles. Before the onset of the 20th century, John Marston started designing and producing its own cars. Up until 1936, the company was able to apply the brand to the three forms of vehicles it was simultaneously producing.
The term Sunbeam was originally used as a brand for popular bicycles. John Marston Company Ltd established the Sunbeamland Cycle Factory to produce its Sunbeam bikes. From 1899 to 1901, Sunbeam was known to have produced several experimental cars, which were not distributed to the public car market.
Initial production of Sunbeam cars commenced in 1901 after the company developed a car in cooperation with Maxwell Maberly-Smith. The production alliance was then named Sunbeam-Mably, which was also a car model that was oddly designed by that time. The Sunbeam Motorcar Company Ltd was a spin off from John Marston in 1905 and from there, the company's involvement in car production took off.
The employment of British car design expert Louis Coatalen, of Humber in 1909 was instrumental in the long evolution of Sunbeam both as a corporate car making company and a car brand as well. The Sunbeam 14/20 was the first ever Sunbeam design. In the later years, the engine used was upgraded into a 16/20 for better and improved car performance.
From the production and design of bicycles, motorbikes and cars, Sunbeam during the war era aggressively attempted to evolve to produce aircraft engines. Demand for aircrafts in the war years might have influenced the company to find lucrative means to survive the challenges of the times. Unfortunately, Sunbeam did not emerge as a good aircraft firm. It went back to focus on cars after the war.
In 1920, Sunbeam merged with Talbot-Darracq, from Automobiles Darrracq SA Alexandre Darracq, to form an oddly named car manufacturing firm called STD Motors, short for Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq. Mr Coatalen was still with the company then. Because he is fond of racing, STD Motors ventured into the design, production and marketing of many racing cars.
1934 was a turnaround year and STD Motors finally gave in to bankruptcy amid a consolidating global car industry at the height of World War II turmoil. It was acquired the following year by Rootes group, another British automobile maker.
In the 1960s, the company was absorbed by Chrysler. When Chrysler Europe was split up and bought by France's Renault and Peugeot in 1978, the Sunbeam car brand finally vanished. Sunbeam was able to produce its last car model named Rootes Arrow from 1967 to 1976.
In its entire existence, superb performance was proven by Sunbeam when it landed in world records as the first ever British vehicle to ever win a coveted Grand Prix race. With that, Sunbeam would forever live in the consciousness of car fanatics.
Original Authors: Manny
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 25/06/2007