Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited was a British motor car manufacturer with its works at Moorfields in Blakenhall, a suburb of Wolverhampton in the county of Staffordshire, now West Midlands. Its Sunbeam name had been registered by John Marston in 1888 for his bicycle manufacturing business. Sunbeam motor car manufacture began in 1901. The motor business was sold to a newly incorporated Sunbeam Motor Car Company Limited in 1905 to separate it from Marston’s pedal bicycle business; Sunbeam motorcycles were not made until 1912.
In-house designer Coatalen’s enthusiasm for motor-racing accumulated expertise with engines. Sunbeam manufactured their own aero engines during the First World War and 647 aircraft to the designs of other manufacturers. Engines drew Sunbeam into Grand Prix racing and participation in the achievement of world land speed records.
In spite of its well-regarded cars and aero engines, by 1934 a long period of very slow sales had incurred continuing losses. Sunbeam was unable to repay money borrowed for ten years in 1924 to fund its Grand Prix racing programme and a receiver was appointed. There was a forced sale and Sunbeam was picked up by the Rootes brothers. Manufacture of Sunbeam’s now old-fashioned cars did not resume under the new owners but Sunbeam trolleybuses remained in production.
Rootes had intended to sell luxury cars under the Sunbeam name but nearly four years later in 1938 the two brothers instead chose to add the name Sunbeam to their Talbot branded range of Rootes designs calling them Sunbeam-Talbots. In 1954 they dropped the word Talbot leaving just Sunbeam.
Sunbeam continued to appear as a marque name on new cars until 1976. It was then used as a model name, firstly for the Chrysler Sunbeam from 1977 to 1979, and, following the takeover of Chrysler Europe by PSA Group, for the Talbot Sunbeam from 1979 through to its discontinuation in 1981.