Category Archives: History

The Sunbeam lion

From time to time I’m asked about the lion logo used used on Rootes-era Sunbeams.


This was originally the logo of Clement-Talbot Ltd, the manufacturer of Talbot cars. Talbot was founded in 1903 with the backing of Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury.


This crest is a heraldic emblem appearing on many coats of arms. In heraldic terms it is generally described as “on a chapeau gules, turned up ermine, a lion statant with the tail extended” which essentially means on a red cap trimmed in ermine, a lion stands with tail extended.

It was chosen because it features on the Earl of Shrewsbury’s coat of arms. You can see it below in the top left.


The coat of arms is supported by two talbot hounds. A talbot was a breed of hunting dog that is now extinct. Some texts state that the animal featured in the Sunbeam logo is actually a talbot, but as can be seen here the talbots are quite distinct from the lion.


Works Series II Rapier

Works Sunbeam Rapier Series II on the 1958 Alpine Rally. Drivers: Lola Grounds and Mary Handley-Page. Photo: Rgbub

Later at the Vivione Pass (sans headlight!)


1000hp Sunbeam

Cutaway of the 1000hp Sunbeam. I’m unsure of the original source of this drawing, although it looks as though it may have come from an issue of The Autocar or The Motor.

1000hp Sunbeam on Daytona Beach

Thanks to Real Bosse in Canada for this photo of the?1000hp Sunbeam?record car on Daytona Beach.

1000hp Sunbeam

Bob Hamilton sent me this photo of Sir Henry Segrave’s 1000 hp Sunbeam record car.

Rootes Group family tree

How the marques of the Rootes Group and Groupe PSA all fit together.


Rootes sales figures for Australia

Year Hillman Humber Singer Sunbeam Rootes All Makes % of market
1956 6,201 1,214 107 11 7,533 145,869 5.16%
1957 5,030 890 176 24 6,120 154,949 3.95%
1958 5,547 915 340 76 6,878 175,071 3.93%
1959 5,665 1,528 380 61 7,634 196,989 3.88%
1960 10,321 1,455 664 124 12,564 244,818 5.13%
1961 4,482 1,436 290 148 6,356 188,132 3.38%
1962 6,854 1,450 59 97 8,460 266,789 3.17%
1968 9,932 307 18 10,257 310,627 3.30%
1969 11,942 45 9 11,996 343,275 3.49%

With thanks to Vic Hughes for compiling this data.

Happy birthday Sunbeam

Happy birthday Sunbeam. This year is the 110th anniversary of the first car.