November 16, 2019

The RHP703 and 704 were purchased from the factory by two Scotsman - The Anderson Brothers. Mr James Anderson who is a S.T.A.R member has RHP704.
See some original letters explaining this Sunbeam Racing Story.

>> Further Update C/O Bill Hall / STAR Membership Secretary
Our Club is interested in the history of the 6 factory prepared RHP cars and the summary of your involvement with RHP 705, together with the photographs and copy letter from Gerry Simmonds to you are fascinating. A comprehensive article was published in our Club magazine last year by the Club Archivist using the information supplied by you.
I think that you must have joined the original Sunbeam Talbot Owners Club, which was a Club supported and run by the factory from 1946 to 1967. Chrysler completed the take over of the Rootes Companies in January 1967 and wound up the Club pretty quickly as a cost cutting exercise.
The Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register (STAR) was formed in 1969 by Gerry Simmonds and his wife together with a nucleus of members from the old Club.

1. RHP 700 - Presently owned by a STAR member
2. RHP 701 - Not survived
3. RHP 702 
- restored by a STAR member in Australia and sold at Shannon's Auctions in Melbourne in 2012. Present owner unknown.
4. RHP 703 -  Presently owned by a STAR member
5. RHP 704 - Presently owned by a STAR member
6. RHP 705 -  Presently owned by a STAR member as an original chassis with a small number of original parts (awaiting a rebuild)


Attached are photos of RHP 705. I apologise for the quality of some of them; the slides have discoloured with age. I have also realised that none of them show it with its UK licence plates. Although, if you zoom in on one of them you can just make out the front licence plate. However, its chassis and eng. no. was 3501915 according to an ‘Application for Overseas Touring Documents’ from the A.A.

I bought the car from a Tom Smeeton in Leicester late in 1964. The works motor had been removed and a standard engine fitted. However, the car still had the dual ignition coils, floor change, additional vents, passenger horn button, Thermos holder behind the driver’s seat and the knee rest on driver’s door. I think it was to have been driven by Stirling Moss in the Alpine (?) rally but Rootes Group withdrew the RHP numbered team cars and entered the new Rapiers instead.

It still had the big twenty-five gallon fuel tank, which always helped garage proprietors’ retirement fund! I still have the blue Driver’s Manual complete with Shell lubrication chart, the Castles of Leicester Service Record book and for some reason the original badge bar.

Soon after buying the car I worked in Switzerland during 1965 and took the car there where it was registered as ZG3669Z; hence the ‘alpine pass’ scenes in some of the photos.

The car always caused a bit of a stir in the conservative town south of Zurich where I was working. The Swiss, being who they are, always wanted to be seen in a new car so this old vehicle was looked down on particularly when a bit of rust started to show up.

I often drove it over most of the passes in central Switzerland; the Gotthard, Oberalp, Susten, Furka, Klausen etc. With its strong torque and overdrive it stormed up the mountains.

During summer I drove it, without having to refuel, to Norway and revelled in the sound of the exhaust bellowing out from the exhaust which was in front of the off-side rear wheel just below the driver’s door.

I returned to Switzerland via Hamburg, East Berlin and down through East Germany to Munich. Passing through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin at the height of the Cold War was confronting as was the long motorway trip down through communist East Germany. But the car never missed a beat. The East German border guards thought I was a smuggler when their long probe would go down into the fuel tank. I quickly removed the filter canister from the filler neck bore!

During the ski-season I would unzip the soft top’s rear window and carry my skis protruding out. Even in sub-zero conditions it would start on the button.

In the year that I owned it I had no mechanical problems at all. I befriended a Swiss mechanic in a nearby village and he practiced his English on me while giving the car its regular grease and oil changes.

Late in 1966, I returned to the UK I sold the car to my brother who had come to work with ICI Fibres in Wales. He sold the car a year later and I lost track of it until there was an article in a ’74 edition of Classic Cars on the MKV series of Alpines. I followed up on that article and subsequently received a letter from a Garry Simonds of the STAR who told me that he had come across it in a garage in Wales. It had been rolled and was in a very sad state. He salvaged what he could from it including its famous number plate which was hanging on his garage wall.