Category Archives: Sunbeam

Converting a John Day Sunbeam Rapier

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

John Day Vehicle Scenics SRV24 Sunbeam Rapier has appeared before in the fomer printed MAR magazine. It is a fair model of a Series II though the side chrome is slightly incorrect lacking the twin lines forward of the tail section. A photograph of one that I made several years ago is shown below.

Recently whilst browsing pictures on the web I came across pictures of the Sunbeam Rapier Convertible with its hood up. I thought that it was an interesting variant so I set about making one based on the standard John Day casting.

The key differences between the standard car and the convertible were the rear side windows which were similar to the ones used on the contemporary Hillman Minx convertible and the rear window which is a small panel in the hood and not the wrap round shape of the hard top.

The hood was created by layering on Humbrol modelling filler and shaping it do represent the shape of a hood and filling in the original wrap round rear window. Once all was dry the hood was filed to represent creases and folds and the rear window was drilled out and shaped. The window was then glazed using Micro Kristal Klear.

The hood was painted in matt red to represent one of the colours which seems to have been an option on the original cars.

The profile of the rear side windows was reshaped using a file to remove the lower part of the rear edge which curves back on the hard top.

The model was painted in a dark grey often seen on Rootes cars at the time to contrast with the hood and all the chrome painted on using a Molotow chrome pen . For those wondering who made the garage behind it is a Dapol kit based upon the old Airfix railway accessories series model which is to the same 1:76 scale as the car and is very ‘period’. This model is still readily available through model railway shops and online. The John Day Rapier Kit is also available from John Day Models which may be found at johndaymodels.webplus.net/ though this site is being replaced shortly by one under development at www.johndaymodels.co.uk .

I will one day produce a hood down Rapier, though I may choose to base that upon an Oxford Diecast model as the John Day model has no dashboard or steering wheel which would be rather obvious on an open car!

As usual my modelling skills are rather rough and ready but I think that the result is an interesting addition to my collection of Sunbeam Rapiers.


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Essence of the Car – New Releases May 2019

By David Roots

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

Editor’s Note: David’s ‘The ‘Essence of the Car’ range are sculptural studies of important vehicles from which a mould is created and resin models produced to 1:43 scale. They are intended to capture the shape, and spirit, of the vehicle rather being a detailed model.

Ginetta G4

The Ginetta G4 was made by Ginetta Cars, a specialist builder of racing and sports cars based in Garforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The G4 used the new Ford 105E engine and had a glass fibre GT-style body along with suspension updated to coil springing at the front with a Ford live axle at the rear. Whereas the G2 and G3 had been designed for racing, the G4 was usable as an everyday car but was still very competitive in motor sport with numerous successes. In 1963, a coupé variant was introduced alongside the open top variant and a BMC axle replaced the Ford unit at the rear. In road tests, the car attained a top speed of 120 mph with a 1,500 cc engine. The series III version of 1966 added pop-up headlights. Production stopped in 1968 but was revived in 1981 with the Series IV which was two inches wider and three inches longer than the III. Over 500 units were made up to 1969 with a variety of Ford engines.

As every model is made to order, most common colour choices can be accommodated.


Sunbeam Land Speed Record Car

The Sunbeam Motor Car Company found Grand Prix racing too expensive and stopped competing in 1926. Meanwhile Henry Segrave had stopped racing cars completely to focus solely on upon setting land speed records. Sunbeam had previously supplied Segrave’s Land Speed Record cars but these had been modified race cars. Louis Coatalen was the managing director of Sunbeam and understood how speed records would translate into car sales. He knew that a specially-designed LSR car would be able to achieve much higher speeds than the current record. He also knew that such a car could be built fairly inexpensively by utilising many unused parts at the Sunbeam factory. So, he agreed to build a special LSR car for Segrave, and their target was 200 mph (322 km/h).

The new LSR car was designed by John Samuel Irving in 1926 and built by the Sunbeam works in Wolverhampton. Its frame and cross members were made of channel-steel. Two Sunbeam V12 Matabele aircraft engines would be used to push the car to 200 mph. The two engines in the car had actually been salvaged from the four used in the Maple Leaf VII powerboat, which sank during the 1921 Harmsworth Trophy Race on the Detroit River in the United States. Because of its shape, the workers at the factory referred to it as ‘The Slug‘.

On 29 March 1927, Segrave set off to Daytona Beach, determined to get every bit of speed he could out of the ‘Slug’. The first run hit several problems. The car was prepared for its second run: tyres were changed, new brakes were installed, and fuel and water were replenished. A short time later, Segrave ran the Slug with the wind to the south and at the end of the course. Segrave and the Sunbeam 1,000 hp Mystery Slug had set a new LSR of 203.793 mph, an astounding 29.569 mph faster than the previous record (held by Campbell). This was the first time the 200 mph mark had been exceeded. Segrave was the first non-US citizen to make a record attempt at Daytona Beach. Likewise, the 1,000 HP Sunbeam was the first non-US car to make a record attempt at Daytona Beach. The Slug ushered in a new era of large, streamlined machines designed solely to break the LSR.

These models are available direct from the maker only. Prices, contact details, more about the models as well as the ability to order the models are available on the Essence of the Car website at www.theessenceofthecar.co.uk


Wossat? Plastic Models

By Maz Woolley

All text and photographs by, and copyright of, the Author unless otherwise stated.

I recently acquired some plastic models. All approximately three inches (7.5cm) in length. The upper portion is moulded in a soft plastic whilst the lower section is in a harder grey plastic. The upper part has four small lugs moulded in that fit through holes in the chassis and the lug is then moulded into a cap to retain it. The wheels are plastic mouldings and they attach to four lugs extending out of the chassis which are again moulded into a cap shape to retain them. The name of the vehicle is moulded into the base, in some cases it is part of the mould and in others the lettering has been pressed in by a hot tool. There is no manufacturer’s markings of any kind that I can see.

I have no idea who made these toys and having exhausted my reference works I am asking you, our readers, to identify the maker and tell me when they were made, and where if you can!

Sunbeam Alpine

Rather a caricature here with the front end being pretty inaccurate it obviously represents and earlier series Alpine with the larger rear fins and split window top. The Series One Alpine was made from 1959 to 1960.


Bristol 406

Again not very accurate as a model, lacking the characteristic front air intake. And sadly it has lost the ends of the front bumper as well. But apart from Spot On who else made a Bristol model.? The 406 was introduced in 1958.


MGA 1600

May 1959 the MGA 1600 was introduced to replace the previous 1500cc version. Here there has been a little more effort at capturing features of the real car with quite a good representation of the MGA Grille moulded in. The wrap around rear screen of the coupe is also included although being unglazed it looks a little strange.


Jaguar XK150

Recognisably an XK 150 Coupe even with the hugely over high side windows. Another vehicle introduced in the late 1950s, 1957 to be precise. Like the MG there is some detail captured such as the 150s chrome strip to the number plate area on the boot and a moulded in Jaguar radiator on the front.

I am sure someone must know who made these. I suspect they would have been produced at the start of the 1960s reflecting vehicles current when the model maker made the master for the moulds. They look too large and finished for cereal premiums and rather smaller than many of the cheap plastic models of the time. Were they sold as a set or with some other model? I will be fascinated to hear from readers.


Cult Models for 2018

By Maz Woolley

All photographs provided by the manufacturer and may be prototypes subject to refinement and changes.

Cult Models has a past history of making 1:18 scale models of classic British cars and four more are expected in the first half of 2018. These models are made in China for Cult.

Cult have been known to offer some of the more reasonably priced 1:18 scale models in the past but the price has risen steadily over the last year or so making each model a significant investment for collectors.

Land-Rover Discovery Mark I metallic red 1989

This model of an early Land Rover Discovery with the graphics printed on should prove popular. The wheels seem to be very accurate and the large areas of matt black also seem well printed.


Austin 1100 Glider yellow 1969

The car is a four door illustrated with right hand drive and the correct grille bars for the 1100. I don’t believe that the name “Glider” was ever used on a UK car, though looking at the web shows it was used and perhaps in the Netherlands as most of the references using this name seem to be Dutch.

The model seems to capture the shape well and though the colour is certainly authentic the Author wishes they had done it in another colour.


Sunbeam Supreme MKIII white/maroon 1954

From 1953 the former Sunbeam -Talbot 90 was marketed by Rootes Group as the Sunbeam Mark III. On the radiator shell instead of “Sunbeam Talbot” used on previous versions “Sunbeam Supreme” was to be seen.

This model captures the cars shape well and again the wheels seem to be neatly represented as does the chrome belt line.


Triumph Spitfire MKII blue

A popular vehicle for modelling and one that is available in almost every scale commonly available. The Cult model seems to be a good replica of the real thing. The early Spitfire front and rear end is clearly captured as are the simple painted steel wheels and chrome hubcaps.


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A pair of Atlas Imps

By Maz Woolley

Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

Atlas Editions often source different series from different contractors. Here we have two Imps which are clearly from different sources.  One is obviously derived from the Vanguards model as it still has Lledo engraved on the base. The other when looked at carefully has many features which differ from the Vanguards model.

Atlas Best of British Police Cars – Hillman Imp

Lledo and Corgi have made several versions of Imp Police cars: the Dumbarton twin set, a Renfrew and Bute car, and also a car in a  set with a Triumph Herald.

Here Atlas have modelled a Kent car though the picture below shows that they have not matched it completely.  In particular the spotlights should be closer to the main lights and there should be no over riders on the bumpers and the number plate should be moved up to the front panel.

Image result for XKN 618J

The wheels are the same as the original Lledo and could do with being updated as they are a little clumsy by today’s standards. They could also do with white paint on the wheel to match the original car.

Atlas quality control is erratic and this is manifest in the roof box being slightly crooked.

In addition as the picture above shows tho old casting holes for the wipers are much too large for the photo etch wipers fitted for Atlas.

Overall this is a pleasant if not entirely accurate model. The Author wishes that someone had modelled a Coventry Police Force Panda car as they were significant Imp users.

Atlas British Touring Car Champions – Sunbeam Imp

Bill McGovern won the BTCC in 1972 in an Imp prepared by George Bevan shown below chasing a Ford Escort Mark One.

Bill McGovern, Bevan Imp 1972

Bill McGovern at the 1972 British GP meeting
source: David Lawson @ forums.autosport.com,

This casting is significantly different to the one used from the Police Car with a plastic base and not a metal one. If it is compared to the Vanguards Super Imp it is clear that the heavily flared wheel arches and loss of overiders and number plate holder are not the only difference. The bonnet line lacks the clear indentation separating bonnet from body on the Vanguards model and the lights are plastic and not “diamonds”. The front panel with the Sunbeam Logo is simulated by printing. When the photograph is enlarged the Sunbeam script on red plate is perfectly clear.

As the views above show the windows are flush fit and have chrome surround trim printed on them front and rear. The front widow vent is printed on rather than being part of the casting as it was on the Lledo. . The B Pillar is much finer on the BTCC car too. Inside the roll cage and racing seat are well modelled. The alloy wheels with wide racing tyres have been very nicely made. The tampo printed advertising and racing numbers are very impressive.

At the rear the extra vents on the bonnet are modelled and painted matt black. Lights have been painted on and would have benefited from being printed in translucent colours over silver.

The picture above shows both the excellent flush fit windscreen and the neat plastic wipers used. Atlas would have been better using these wiper mouldings on the ex-Vanguards shell of the Police Imp to fill the large holes.

This is a rather more accurate model than the Panda Car and well done for a budget model.


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