1924 Introduction

The 1924 Grand Prix Sunbeam is perhaps the most significant prewar British Grand Prix car; it was certainly the fastest Grand Prix car in Europe timed at 130mph against its nearest foreign competitors’ 124mph.

Closely related to the 1923 Grand Prix winning Sunbeams, the team of three 1924 cars were supercharged and had other refinements over their predecessors. Whilst not winning the 1924 French Grand Prix (due to faulty magnetos), one of the cars nevertheless did win the Spanish Grand Prix in the hands of H O D Segrave.

Driven by Works drivers K L Guinness, D Resta, Counts G Masetti and C Conelli, as well as, K Don, these cars had numerous successes in the many events they entered. “It was Sunbeam’s penultimate year in Grand Prix Racing so, closing a period of serious British intervention which was not to be repeated on similar scale until after the Second World War.”

In 1926, with the change of the international Grand Prix rules from the 2-litre, which ran from 1922, to 1.5-litre the cars, became obsolete but they continued to race successfully with Works support until 1930.

Two cars were sold to privateers in 1928 winning accolades in the hands of their lady pilots and subsequent owners. The third car was sold in 1930 and after the Brooklands 500 where the six years old race car was 1st in class, it gradually moved into a more gentle use.

With their legendary reputation came also a rather morbid one; the cars having been involved in three fatal racing crashes and serious injuries to pilots and riding mechanics. Although attributed to road surface conditions in two cases and foreign object on the track in the third; a further contributing factor may have been the high speeds attained in relation to contemporary driver’s ability.

All three chassis and two engines survive today in different stages of completeness though none had ran for some years.