Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club Ltd. Established 1977

40th Anniversary

Buy or Sell Alpine parts

What to look for when buying an Alpine.

No matter how good a car looks from a distance and what price the vendor is asking, you must look any prospective Alpine over very carefully before purchase. If possible, take along another person who has experience of Alpines so the car can be viewed from an unbiased angle. With restored Alpines particularly, it is common for a weak body shell to be covered up by new outer panels that hide a whole catalogue of horrors underneath.

To start with, the most revealing question to ask the vendor is "can he jack it up with the rear jacking point?" If the answer is "yes" then try opening and closing the doors while it is jacked up. If they close easily then the car should be pretty solid, if not you need to check the sills, the ends of the cruciform and the front mountings of the rear springs.

If the answer is "no" then expect severe rust at the rear spring rear hangers too (often revealed by rusting in the bottom rear corners of the boot sides on Series III to V) These points are not easy to repair, especially on Series III to V.

With the car on level ground, check the door shuts at the top rear and the rear of the door bottom. If both are closed then the top hinge has gone (and maybe the bottom one too).

If the bottom line is fine but the door has hit the wing at the top rear then the rear box is folding up.

Think of the basic shell as two boxes joined by the floor structure: where the floor joins the rear box is particularly weak as only the gussets in the door opening do much to add beam stiffness, linking the rear inner wing and associated frame panel into the intermediate and inner sills. The front joint is much stronger as the overlap is longer and the frame horns and transmission tunnel both run well back into the floor structure.

Check the sills and the bottoms of the front wings with a magnet. As this joint is strong these are often filled rather than repaired but can hide a really nasty surprise behind as there is quite a lot of metal to rot in this area which is really an extension of the sill structure. Water gets in through the splash panel inside the back of the wing after the putty between it and the wing falls out.

Moving up the scuttle, the hinge mounts on the "A" post can rot badly on Series I and II where the "A" post is quite a lot simpler than on later cars (but still remarkably fiddly to repair). On top of the scuttle, check for dimples in front of the screen on Ryton built cars: rust tries to force the two skins of this section apart and the spot welds holding together causes the dimples. Not structurally important but very difficult to fix and the panels can eventually rot through.

Rear inner wheel arches rot and let water into the sill structure. The doors can rot just about everywhere, especially the bottom front and top. The screen surrounds on Series III to V rots badly at the bottom – get the vendor to pull on the top (the whole screen might collapse)

Series I and II hardtops are constructed of aluminium so therefore rarely suffer with corrosion. However, they do suffer from cracking and tearing of the thin section metal, particularly close to the stress points.

Series III – V hardtops are constructed of steel and are very prone to rust. You should check every part except the main roof panel for signs of corrosion. Bear in mind when purchasing a GT Alpine that a rusty hardtop can be very difficult and therefore expensive to repair.

Alpine Visual Identification

The following will enable you to identify the series of an Alpine with missing chassis plates.

Series I Alpines have only a small chrome guide fillet at the bottom leading edge of the door windows. Open the doors and only the glass sticks more than an inch or two above the body of the door.

Series II Alpines have a full height guide channel for the leading edge of the glass. Open the doors and each has a long chrome strip sticking up at the front.

Series III Alpines have the dummy quarter lights and squarish cornered parallelogram-shaped side windows of the Series IV, IVa and V but still have the high fins, sloping tail lights, multi-barred grill and bulbous over-riders (without rubber buffers of the Series I and II.

Series IV and IVa Alpines have a grill aperture with a single stainless horizontal strip with oval Sunbeam crest badge in the centre. Over the grill and in front of the bonnet, there are chrome SUNBEAM letters. Bumpers are the same type as on earlier Series but are fitted with new style over riders with black rubber facing. At the rear there are vertical taillights.

Series IV and IVa cannot be told apart visually, but on manual cars with correct gearboxes, reverse will be on the left on a IV and on the right on a IVa.

Series V Alpines appears similar to the Series IV but have foot well vents (look for the control knobs marked V on either side below the dashboard) and no SUNBEAM letters on the panel in front of the bonnet.

These features changed exactly with a Series change and most are unlikely to have been changed since but many people are fooled by bonnet, door and boot corners, which did not change exactly at the introduction of the Series V.

Bonnet and door bottom rear corners went square late in Series IVa and boot bottom corners did not go square until early Series V.

There are many other minor changes but those listed here are the most obvious ways of identify an Alpine with missing chassis and body plates.

It is possible to make a car from one series look like another although there seems to be no point as there are only minor differences in value between series. If you find a car with no chassis plate and you suspect this has been done, the most likely is a gearbox change to turn a IV into a IVa which is often done with no intention to deceive but simply to add the benefit of syncromesh on first. It’s fairly easy to swap the door window guides and screen to make an II look like a I or vice- versa but to fool an expert other changes would have to be made. Other serious bodywork modifications have to be made to change between any of the series or between them and Series 1 and II and any modifications like this needs to be checked with great caution.

Identification by Chassis Number

The following are the ranges of chassis numbers for each series.

Series I B9000001- B9011904                Built between  14/6/1959 -9/9/1960

Series II B9100001 – B9119956             Built between   9/9/1960 - 8/2/1963

Series III B9200001 – B9205863            Built between   25/1/1963 - 18/10/1963

Series IV B9400001 – B9407936            Built between    23/10/1963 - 13/8/1965            

Series IVa B94100001 – B94104470          "        "                 "                  "

Series V B395000001 – B395019122       Built between    15/8/1965 - 26/1/1968

B9300001 - B9300006 Series IV Prototypes based on a Series III Body shell. 

Note. If the chassis number (found on the scuttle) and the engine number (found on the ledge under the front spark plug) are identical, then the engine is the original.

We don’t know how many C. K. D. (Complete Knocked Down) kits were exported for assembly at Rootes various plants abroad but the various chassis numbers start as follows.

Series I B909......                Evidence of this has been found in Mexico City. B90900036 Found on an engine.

Series II B915……..

Series III B925……..

Series IV B945……..

Series IVa B946……..

Series V B3959…….

Extracted from the Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club Handbook.

Errors and Omissions accepted.

Updated 03-Oct-2017