Sunbeam Grand Prix car 1923 history
|Type:||open single seat|
|Engine and Powertrain|
|Engine power:||102 bhp|
The Sunbeam Grand Prix cars from 1923.
In the twenties, Coatalen saw an outstanding racing car produced by another company he would unashamedly copy it, paint it green and call it a Sunbeam, or perhaps blue and call it a Talbot, by virtue of the complex Sunbeam- Talbot-Darracq Anglo-French grouping of that period. Coatalen had long admired the work of Ernest Henry and in 1922 he hired him to produce a new design for Sunbeam.
Unfortunately Henry's great creative days—or perhaps more realistically his days as a gifted draughtsman capable of translating others' ideas efficiently into the metal—were over. with Peugeot, Henry had led the way in 1912. with Ballot he had produced the first European Grand Prix straight-eight in 1919.
Now at Sunbeam he chose a twin-overhead-camshaft 16-valve four-cylinder layout, but small piston area and a rev limit of only 4400 rpm rendered the cars ineffective, and they retired from the Grand Prix with valve failures.
This Sunbeam model was Henry's last complete design, and with the 1923 Mercédés the last four-cylinder Grand Prix car to appear for a quarter-century. With his faith in Henry shattered, Coatalen looked to the engineers who had brought Fiat their French Grand Prix victory at Strasbourg in 1922, when the veteran Felice Nazzaro's Tipo 804 had won.
Coatalen succeeded in attracting engineers Vincenzo Bertarione and Walter Becchia from Fiat, and Bertarione produced the 1923 Grand Prix Sunbeam as a six-cylinder of 67 mm x 94 mm, achieving 102 bhp at 5000 rpm compared to the 1922 Fiat's 112 bhp at 5000 rpm.
At Tours for the French Grand Prix of 1923 the new supercharged Fiats failed and Henry O'Neill de Hane Segrave won for Sunbeam in his 'Fiat in Green Paint' with the team placing 1st 2nd and 4th. It was to be the last important GP victory for an Englishman in an English car until the Syracuse Grand Prix of 1955 fell to Tony Brooks and his Connaught.