Car Crush: Sunbeam Harrington Alpine NART Coupé

Cars

for auction Wednesday at RM Sothebys - this ultra rare classic racer is jaw dropping...

Wednesday 7 September sees the RM Sotheby’s Auction at Battersea. And amongst an incredible roster of Lots, this beautifully compact and purposeful 1961 Sunbeam Coupé manages to stand out from the crowd.

Not only does it just look fantastic – it has the sort of well-documented racing heritage that makes enthusiasts of historic racing take notice.

The car comes with a 1,592 cc OHV inline high-compression four-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with Laycock overdrive. Running gear consists of independent front suspension with swinging links and coil springs and a rigid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs. But this is a fairly highly modified Sunbeam in every aspect.

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The roof was made with glass fibre and shaped with low-drag aerodynamics in mind. Other modifications included a new rear bulkhead and shorter boot lid to accommodate the roof. Aimed at competitive-minded customers, the Harrington Alpines were also offered with three different stages of Hartwell tuning.

The car is apparently believed to be the only left-hand-drive example produced of the 110 first series Harrington Alpine Coupés. It was, according to RM, first delivered to Marchese Filippo Theodoli, an Italian noble by birth. Theodoli, they say, after a distinguished WW2 career with the US military, had become an account executive for Gardner Advertising Agency, looking after such clients as Alitalia and Ferrari. Through this connection, he apparently became personal friends with Luigi Chinetti of NART fame, a friendship which would bear fruit at Sebring in 1963. By the early part of 1963, Theodoli’s relationship with Luigi Chinetti had grown so close that Chinetti was willing to enter the Harrington Alpine in that year’s Sebring 12 Hours alongside Ferrari prototypes.

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In a piece of never-to-be-repeated expansiveness on behalf of NART
, Theodoli’s Sunbeam sat on the grid emblazoned with NART emblems featuring the famous cavallino rampante of Ferrari. Theodoli shared driving duties with William Kneeland, and despite fuel filler problems, they finished a very credible 4th in the GT9 class and 36th Overall, beating the OSCAs also entered by NART.

The car up for auction has had only three owners since the Sebring experience – and comes fully prepped as it would have competed in 1963.

Anyone interested in a kidney?

Photos: Jason Dodd ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

To view all lots go to RM Sotheby’s

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