The Sunbeam Alpine has always had a slight stigma regarding its competition career. Early on it was labeled the “British Thunderbird” with styling bestowed by Kenneth Howes who had only recently left Ford in Dearborn to take up the project with Rootes. The visual similarities of the Alpine and Thunderbird couldn’t be argued. But few people realize that Rootes, the manufacturer of the Sunbeam, was very keen to enter the newly introduced Alpine into international race competition. Perhaps it was Vince Tamburo’s 1960 G-production SCCA National Championship victory that helped prove the Alpine could be competitive but it was Norman Garrard, Rootes Competition Director, who persuaded the executive management of the company to compete at an international level. The result was a major effort, including six specially constructed team cars specifically for Sebring. Three Alpines were constructed for 1961 and then another three for 1962. These wonderful small bore sports cars were sent out to do battle with MGs, TVRs, and other GT-9 FIA racers of the period. Unfortunately, true success was elusive and once the 12-hour races were over, believe it or not, these special cars disappeared around the U.S.—most never to be seen again.
The Road to Sebring
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