Meet our Boxing Day winner - a rare Alpine roadster
A rare 1950s roadster painstakingly restored over 19 years, by a train driver from Cheshire, has scooped the top award at the Lakeland Motor Museum’s popular end of year classic car meet.
The Sunbeam Alpine Roadster is believed to be one of only five surviving examples of a famous works rally team and was awarded the prestigious “Best of Boxing Day” Trophy by the museum.
The restoration was a labour of love for Roy Odams, from Crewe, who spent two decades bringing it back to life after buying it in the Eighties as a rusting wreck. Roy died in October 2015 and the car is now driven by his son Steve who lives near Shap in Cumbria.
“It was a real surprise to pick up the trophy but I’m very proud because my father put so much work and effort into bringing the Alpine back to life,” says Steve. “He had no restoration skills when he bought it and even went back to college to get them!”
The Sunbeam Alpine Roadster was first registered in May 1955, and was one of six factory team cars built specifically for that year’s Alpine Rally after which the model was named.
“Sunbeams were always a favourite of my dad,” explains Steve. “He had a Sunbeam Talbot 90 saloon when we were kids but always wanted an Alpine two-seater.”
Eventually, in 1984, he got his hands on one – buying it unseen over the phone having been told it was in a rough condition and had spent 20 years outside.
With no restoration experience, Mr Odams went on a night school course in metal work. Then, after retiring, he took a full time restoration course at Manchester College of Arts and Technology.
“It took him 19 years to get the car how he wanted it – finally finishing the restoration in the summer of 2003,” explains Steve. “He then had the joy of driving it all over the place for the next 10-12 years before ill health prevented that.”
When Roy died in 2015 the car needed further maintenance. Steve took it on and spent 2-3 years bringing it back to prime condition and now drives it on a regular basis.
“It’s great once it gets rolling but is quite heavy driving to start with as it has no power steering. But it turns heads wherever we go and I think that would make my father really proud.”
Chris Lowe, Curator at the Lakeland Motor Museum, says: “You can see why it turns heads – it’s very stylish and such a lot of effort has gone into getting it into this condition. It’s a very worthy winner of the Best of Boxing Day trophy.”
The trophy was awarded at the museum’s Classic Drive and Ride in Day on Boxing Day which saw some of the biggest crowds in the event’s history.
The work's team Alpines had several alterations from standard vehicles including an extra fuel tank in the boot with an external filler cap, scuttle ventilation flaps to help cool the engine bay, and a side-exhaust exiting in front of the rear wheel. It has a 2267cc engine and one of its sister cars sold at auction in 2018 for over £50,000.
Chris Lowe adds: “The Alpine is from a key era in motorsport history. The Alpine Rally it was built for, in 1955, didn’t take place because of the tragic events at that year’s Le Mans race where 83 spectators and a driver died following an accident. That incident changed motorsport for ever and led to many safety improvements.”