Resto-Mod: Mike Fuchs' 1953 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine with Chevy 3.4L V6 Engine

Mike Fuchs' 1953 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine with Chevy 3.4L V6 Engine

as published in BritishV8 Magazine, Volume XXI Issue 1, July 2013

Owner: Mike Fuchs
City: Denver, Colorado
Model: 1953 Sunbeam Alpine
Engine: Chevy 3.4L V6
Conversion performed by: see below

Mike explains:

My first vintage race car was a Sunbeam Tiger. When I eventually sold it, I wanted another Sunbeam to stay connected to the club in Denver. I also wanted to build my idea of a classic English ride, except modern in every way. The early Alpine is perfect for a "Resto-mod" project. I finally found a project car in Colorado Springs. The 1953 Sunbeam Alpine body had already been mounted on a Chevy S-10 pickup truck chassis. The body was complete and relatively rust free.

After I purchased it, the Alpine spent a couple years with Al Behny of "Al's Hot Rod Garage" where frame and running gear modifications were completed. Al also replaced the Alpine's rusty rocker panels and trunk floor. Mike Lundgren, of "Auto Reflections" did the finish bodywork and paint; hardly any body filler was needed after he finessed the sheetmetal panels. The car has been driveable for about two years, but in that time several substantial improvements have been made by Cris Mack at "Max Innovations" including installation of an upgraded rack & pinion steering system which provides a better ratio and smoother operation.

The finished car is a treat to drive! Its engine produces a great sound, and the car's distinctive styling really turn heads. A 1953 Sunbeam Alpine is so rare that even most of the attendees at Denver's annual English Car Conclave were puzzled when they first saw it.

The Rootes Group produced approximately 1580 Sunbeam Alpines between 1953 and 1955. They weighed 2965 pounds each but were only provided with 80 horsepower 2.3 liter 4-cylinder engines. My updated 1953 Sunbeam Alpine weighs 2560 pounds, and it's powered by a relatively modern V6 engine that delivers over 200 horsepower and over 200 foot pounds of torque.

Rootes Ltd., Devonshire House, Piccadilly, London. Chassis No. A3012868, Engine No. LRX, Body No. 1155.
Manufactured for: Rootes Ltd., Devonshire House, Piccadilly, London.
When ordering parts please quote: Chassis No. A3012868, Engine No. LRX, Body No. 1155.

"How It Was Done"

Engine: Chevy 3.4L V6 crate motor. Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold and camshaft. Crane roller rockers. Holley 390cfm four barrel carburetor. Edelbrock air cleaner. Mallory Unilite distributor. MSD Blaster ignition coil. Taylor Pro-Wire 8mm spark plug wires. Classic Conversions Engineering aluminum pulley kit.
Cooling: early Ford Mustang aluminum radiator. Electric fan.
Exhaust: Hedman headers. 2" Y-pipe. Sport muffler.
Transmission: Muncie MG-290MG 5-speed (circa 1987).
Rear Axle: Chevy S-10 10-bolt.
Front Suspension: Chevy S-10 based front suspension. Tubular, fabricated, 1" narrower than stock upper and lower control arms. Rack and pinion steering.
Rear Suspension: Welder Series Inc. triangulated 4-link rear suspension kit. Carrera by QA1 coilover shock absorbers.
Brakes: (master) Wilwood pedal assembly and master cylinder. Adjustable proportioning valve.
(front) Wilwood aluminum calipers. Camaro vented rotors.
(rear) Chevy S-10 drum brakes.
Wheels/Tires: Wheel Vintiques 15 x 5 smoothie wheels. Front wheels reworked by Trudesign Wheel Inc. of Denver, Colorado. Police hubcaps, decorated with Sunbeam badges. Vredestein Sprint Classic tires (155SR15/82S front and 165HR15/86H rear).
Electrical: EZ Wiring Mini 12 wire harness. Summit Racing Super Mini one-wire alternator.
Fuel System: Tanks Inc. model U9 steel 14-gallon fuel tank. External electric pump. Holley adjustable fuel pressure regulator with gauge.
Body Mods: one inch increase in front wheel opening for 15" wheels and tires. Fuel filler moved up from stock locaton due to gas tank move to trunk. Grille and air duct openings changed to stainless steel mesh.
Interior Mods: Stewart Warner Wings instruments. Ididit Classic Chrome steering column. Stock 17" diameter steering wheel, adapted to fit. Stock seats and trim reupholstered in copper colored leather. Navy blue Wilton Wool carpet. Navy blue Stayfast convertible top. Lizard Skin sound and heat insulation.
Completed: first on the road in the summer of 2010. New interior installed in 2011. Rack and pinion steering and brakes revised in March 2013.
Comments: the car is very well balanced, with a 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution, and it drives like a dream.


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Engine Installation

Chevy 3.4L V6 crate motor with Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and Holley 390 carburetor.
Chevy 3.4L V6 crate motor with Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and Holley 390 carburetor.

General Motors' sixty-degree V6
The compact size of General Motors' sixty-degree V6 required no firewall modifications.
It also left plenty of room for exhaust headers, radiator and cooling fan.

Mallory Unilite distributor. Taylor Pro-Wire 8mm spark plug wires.
Mallory Unilite distributor. Taylor Pro-Wire 8mm spark plug wires.

Girling steel brake and clutch fluid reservoirs.
Girling steel brake and clutch fluid reservoirs lend the engine bay present a period look.
Installed in lieu of white plastic see-through reservoirs, they're a more recent update.

Aftermarket, finned, cast-aluminum Pontiac Fiero V6 valve covers.
Al Behny found these aftermarket, finned, cast-aluminum Pontiac Fiero V6 valve covers.
Their installation required an adapter base plate for hole location.

Classic Conversions Engineering aluminum pulley kit.
Classic Conversions Engineering aluminum pulley kit. Crane roller rockers.

Hedman headers.
Hedman headers.

Aluminum radiator sized for a first generation Ford Mustang, purchased from Speedway Motors.
Aluminum radiator sized for a first generation Ford Mustang, purchased from Speedway Motors.


Front Suspension

Chevy S-10 pickup truck frame and S-10-based front suspension.
Chevy S-10 pickup truck frame and S-10-based front suspension.

Tubular, fabricated, 1 inch narrower than stock upper and lower control arms.
Tubular, fabricated, 1" narrower than stock upper and lower control arms.

Three universal joints and one large Heim joint in the middle to locate the assembly.
Three universal joints and one large Heim joint in the middle to locate the assembly.

Upgraded steering rack.
Upgraded steering rack.

Crossmember notched for steering shaft clearance.
Crossmember notched for steering shaft clearance.

2 inch Y-pipe into a sport muffler.
Exhaust: 2" Y-pipe into a sport muffler.

Wilwood aluminum brake calipers.
Wilwood aluminum brake calipers.

Rear Suspension

Chevy S-10 pickup truck frames are popular for all sorts of modern hot-rod builds.
Chevy S-10 pickup truck frames are popular for all sorts of modern hot-rod builds.

Carrera by QA1 coilover shock absorbers from Speedway Motors.
Carrera by QA1 coilover shock absorbers from Speedway Motors.

Welder Series Inc. triangulated 4-link rear suspension kit.
Welder Series Inc. triangulated 4-link rear suspension kit.

Chevy S-10 drum brakes.
Chevy S-10 drum brakes.


Interior

Ididit Classic Chrome steering column.
Ididit Classic Chrome steering column.

Stock 17 inch diameter steering wheel, adapted to fit.
Stock 17" diameter steering wheel, adapted to fit.

Insulated floorpans were (later) covered with navy blue Wilton Wool carpet.
Insulated floorpans were (later) covered with navy blue Wilton Wool carpet.

Stewart Warner Wings instruments.
Stewart Warner Wings instruments.

Lizard Skin sound and heat insulation.
Restored Sunbeam Talbot Alpine floorpans with Lizard Skin sound and heat insulation.

EZ Wiring wire harness with Mini Fuse fuseblock.
EZ Wiring wire harness with Mini Fuse fuseblock and two flasher relays.

Assembling the dashboard.
Assembling the dashboard.

Fabricated aluminum glove box.
Fabricated aluminum glove box.

Trial fitting the new gauges.
Trial fitting the new gauges.

Seats were reupholstered F & H Auto Upholstery of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
Seats were reupholstered F & H Auto Upholstery of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

Original Sunbeam Talbot Alpine seats.
Original Sunbeam Talbot Alpine seats.

Navy blue Wilton Wool carpet.
Navy blue Wilton Wool carpet.

Chrome framed side (window) curtains will stow behind seats.
Chrome framed side (window) curtains will stow behind seats.

Cavernous trunk.
Cavernous trunk.

Spare tire stowage well.
Spare tire stowage well.

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Restoring the Body

A kit car with no instructions.
Mike's wife Charlene, photographed when car arrived in 2007 in parts... a kit car with no instructions!

Trial installation of the grille and front bumper.
Trial installation of the grille and front bumper.

Custom fabricated inner wings with louvers.
Custom fabricated inner wings with louvers.

Al Behny reinforced the body with box tubing sills and then installed new rocker panels.
Al Behny reinforced the body with sills made from box tubing, then installed new rocker panels.

Frame and running gear modifications were completed by Al Behny at Al's Hot Rod Garage.
Frame and running gear modifications were completed by Al Behny at Al's Hot Rod Garage.

2200cc four-cylinder engine
In this photo you can spy the 2200cc four-cylinder engine of unknown origin which
came with this Sunbeam Talbot Alpine when Mike purchased it.

Trial installation of the chosen tires and wheels revealed a big problem.
Trial installation of the chosen tires and wheels revealed a big problem.

Front wheels reworked by Trudesign Wheel Inc. of Denver, Colorado.
Multi-part solution: front wheel openings were enlarged about one inch, narrower tubular
aftermarket control arms were installed, and the front wheels were reworked by
Trudesign Wheel Inc. of Denver, Colorado to increase their backspacing.

Sunbeam Tiger semi-recessed hinged fuel filler cap, located higher on the fender than stock.
Sunbeam Tiger semi-recessed hinged fuel filler cap, located higher on the fender than stock.

Beginning to construct a new trunk floor.
Beginning to construct a new trunk floor.

Tanks Inc. model U9 steel 14-gallon fuel tank.
Tanks Inc. model U9 steel 14-gallon fuel tank.

Very little body filler required.
Very little body filler required.

Finish bodywork and preparation for paint.
Finish bodywork and preparation for paint.

Spare tire door.
Normally a Sunbeam Talbot Alpine's spare tire is accessed through a hinged door
located below the trunk lid. Mike removed the tire door's hinges and bolted the
lid solidly into place. His spare tire is instead accessed from above.

Some panels are painted before installation on the car.
Some panels are painted before installation on the car.

With the paint dry, the Sunbeam Talbot Alpine is now ready for reassembly.
With the paint dry, the Sunbeam Talbot Alpine is now ready for reassembly.

Stainless trim was restored to perfection by Randy Preston.
Stainless trim was restored to perfection by Randy Preston.

Chrome plating was restored/redone by Industrial Plating of Omaha, Nebraska.
Chrome plating was restored/redone by Industrial Plating of Omaha, Nebraska.

Fixed-position windshield extensions (not swiveling, door-mounted vent windows.)
Fixed-position windshield extensions (not swiveling, door-mounted vent windows.)


Exterior

A blue Sunbeam Alpine convertible co-starred with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief.
A similar blue Sunbeam Alpine convertible co-starred with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant in
Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 classic "To Catch a Thief".

Mike Lundgren of Auto Reflections did finish bodywork and painted this 1953 Sunbeam Alpine.
Mike Lundgren of Auto Reflections did finish bodywork and painted this 1953 Sunbeam Alpine.

Colorado English Motoring Conclave
The Colorado English Motoring Conclave is held annually in Arvada Colorado's
Oak Park. (Arvada is one of the northern suburbs of Denver.)

Navy blue Stayfast convertible top.
First Place! (Note the navy blue Stayfast convertible top.)

Alpine S
Alpine S: the stylized "S" badge is from a late model Mini Cooper.
Electro-polished stainless steel mesh grille from TWP Inc.

Louvered hood.
These louvers on the top of the Sunbeam Alpine hood are stock. Note: this photo
shows the actual color of Mike's Alpine most accurately.

Very few details appear conspicuously updated.
At first look, very few details appear conspicuously updated: Sunbeam Tiger fuel cap, stainless
mesh grille, more modern tire size... But the driving experience is dramatically improved!

With later model Tigers and Alpines at a Sunbeam Club meeting...
With later model Tigers and Alpines at a Sunbeam Club meeting, this was
one of the car's first outings after being pronounced road-worthy.

Chopped billet aluminum license frame.
Subtle details: Mike's billet aluminum license frame and his Colorado license plate
have both been chopped to fit within the euro-style license plate space.

Sunbeam Talbot badge.
Third brake light! A strip of light emiting diodes hidden beneath the original Sunbeam Talbot
boot lid badge illuminate it. The license plate is also lighted with tiny LED lamps.

Vredestein Sprint Classic tires.
Wheel Vintiques 15 x 5 smoothie wheels, with police hubcaps decorated with Sunbeam badges.
Vredestein Sprint Classic tires (155SR15/82S front and 165HR15/86H rear).


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