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Old 18th November 2008, 17:20   #1
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Default Sunbeam Rapier Series 1 - Advice on Restoring and Maintaining

My Grandfather recently passed away and left me this car - his pride and joy, something I'm very keen on maintaining and using.

It lives in up at high altitude in Coonoor, and used to go cross country all the time. Now by driving it, you can tell that it is a bit less hardy than it used to be.

What I would like to do is move it down to Bombay where I live, get the body looked over, cleaned up and checked for rust, the engine overhauled, the gearbox and overdrive (which runs of a switch on the dashboard!) rechecked.

And generally make sure all the accessories and other bits and pieces of the car are restored to prime condition.

I'd even like to maybe (and i don't know if this is sacrilige) get it fitted with cng/lpg so that it becomes affordable to run it (it gives about 5KM to a liter).

I am not a car enthusiast. But I am an this car's enthusiast, and anyone who has advice on trustworthy people I could rely on to help me bring this amazing piece of history back to its prime. Nothing would please me more if I could once more go cross country in this beautiful car. It has been driven from Mao to Jammu to Ferozepur to Chennai and Coimbatore and Bangalore and Bombay and Calcutta and Delhi. Its been everywhere.

Thanks for your help.

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Old 18th November 2008, 18:04   #2
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Wow! Thats a neat looking car,I'm guessing this is Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw's Sunbeam??
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Old 18th November 2008, 18:44   #3
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Congratulations Jehan, you have inherited a wonderful legacy in so many ways. Lovely car, and great to see her again after decades! I don't think you should take her to Bombay for repairs, although it might be easier for you logistically, being stationed there yourself.

The climate of Ooty/Connoor is a lot more salubrious and kind. The uncongested roads of the country are a lot easier to live with too. I would assume that after getting her to be absolutely tickety-boo, you'll delight in driving her only occasionally. And technically too, you'll have as good expertise in South India itself. No offence to anyone, but avoid Bangalore though. Look in Coimbatore for instance.

Please don't even think of converting her to run on any alternate fuel. Be also fastidious about keeping her cent per cent original in every other way, however impractical and frustrating it may appear. You have to assume the countenance of a hawk as the restoration process is launched. Talking of which, you may ascertain how much of a restoration is actually required.

You have the user's manual still, I hope. Try to get hold of a workshop manual as well, preferrably by Haynes, if you don't have it already. A reliable British-car-restoration guide book would be an asset too. You may also contact the Sunbeam Rapier club(s) over the net in the meantime, for their guidance. Do a google search for a bookstore or individual selling the books - new or used. Google will also give you links to the clubs.

I'm sure karlosdeville and a some other kindred souls on the forum are going to stop by soon and you'll have some great allies only half way to where I am!

You aren't just setting out to restore a car, you are the custodian of a family heirloom! Take your time over every decision. No harm in being a litlle paranoid in these matters!!



Last edited by Prabal : 18th November 2008 at 18:47.
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Old 18th November 2008, 20:20   #4
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Hi jehan, as Prabal has said you have inherited a national heirloom, should you need help please do get in touch with me, I have nearly finished restoring my Rover P5, and I am amazed how similar the profile of the Sunbeam looks like the P5, I am sure they share lot of common parts.
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Old 19th November 2008, 11:28   #5
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Default Where to begin?

Prabal, Mole, Jay D thank you for the replies.

Jay D,
what gave it away, the soldier standing in front, or my grandmother waiting for the Sam to quit fiddling with the camera and get back in the car. :-)

I'd love to be able to do the restoration work in Coimbatore or Bangalore as getting the car there would be easier. But at the end of the day, the best place for me to do this logistically would be Bombay - which concerns me slightly because of corrosion and salt water issues.

I'd do it in Bangalore because I often go there for work, but its more difficult, and no hawkish eye will be able to be maintained by me.

The fuel-conversoin was just a thought, that engine is a powerhouse (gas guzzling, but massive). Somehow I have dreams of using the car for cross country again - if however cars this age need special care and only the occassional drive, then I guess not.

The car IS in good condition. The steering mounted gear shift's reverse gear is engaged similarly to a cielo's (where you pull on the knob) and move it past the first gear position has gone. She has problems downshifting from 3rd to 2nd. There's limited rust, a missing hubcap, and a need to replace all the beading.

I think its time for a complete engine servicing and overhaul, replacement of any parts that look like they're remotely on thier last legs, and a close examination of the powertrain.

I also would really like to get the body / chassi looked over for all and any rust, and maybe give the whole car a new paint job.

The dash is goregeous, the leather/vinyl on it a bit old which I'm sure an upholster could recreate. I'd need to relook at the console panel though.
I'll upload pics of everything when next up there.

Common parts? that sounds great to know. As soon as I put together the manuals I'll try to scan them in or something and send them along for your advice. on sourcing any required shared parts.

I was walking through Parel mills the other day, and passed a showroom which had an amazing collection of classic cars. It looked like it was a place where they traded them as the cars were behind lovely shop windows with velvet ropes around them. Turned out to be Dr. Mallaya's private garage. I would love to be able to use his mechanics and resident expertise but I'm not sure that that's a possibility or if that is personally affordable :-)

So any reccomendations on this side of the country? Who is the best person to look at the car and assess the way forward?

Best Wishes
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Old 19th November 2008, 12:33   #6
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Welcome aboard Jehan. At the outset let me tell you you are in the right place.

We have long been wondering what happened to aapro Sam Bahadur's Sunbeam, I am so glad it is being retained with such fervour in the family. We have discussed it in the past here.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...tml#post884036 (Official Guess the car Thread (Please see rules on first page!))

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/intern...tml#post631931 (Official Guess the car Thread (Please see rules on first page!))

Dont let our nosyness scare you, its purely innocent

For starters can you share detailed current pictures with us? It will help us assess bodywork etc, and the experts can advise you accordingly. As Prabal said, Im sure the clubs in the UK will be of immense help, especially in locating spares. If you give us a list of what you require, we too can hunt around here.

Has the car been painted or reupholstered in the past? If not, I would suggest leave it as it is, the patina gives so much character to the car. If there is rust to be treated, try and limit it to that spot and touch up if possible.

There are a few good restorers in Bombay and Poona I can put you in touch with. Im sure others on the forum can recommend people closer to your side as well. Let us know how else we can help you.

Could possibly share some more photos of the car from the family album in this thread? Especially if we could get one of the Field Marshal with his car, that would be great.


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Old 19th November 2008, 13:42   #7
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Wow - Sam Bahadur's car - this is a national treasure. Would love to see it. I know zilch about restoration but would like to help out in any way I can.
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Old 19th November 2008, 14:22   #8
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Mama Mia - this is something.

I know some people have earned Bangalore a bad reputation late, but
if you need help in restoring this car, I can help. My mech ( who is restoring my dad's car) is really good.

Lemme know
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Old 19th November 2008, 14:23   #9
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OMG!!! - Me.Jehan, Welcome aboard and what a great feeling to see the above Pics. We are all proud of "Sam Bahadur's" great service to our Nation.

Me too '0' in vintage cars - but rest assured you are in safe hands in this community.
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Old 19th November 2008, 23:25   #10
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Lovely car, Jehan ! And very rare in India, I believe.. Would love to be of any kind of help I can, I live in Bombay.
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Old 20th November 2008, 11:24   #11
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Thank you. If you're doing any restoration work or know of people who are, it would be great to get in touch with reliable mechanics and restoration enthusiasts whom have the right skills and knowledge base with which to do this effectively, reliably, and as economically (yes I know it won't be cheap) as possible.

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Old 20th November 2008, 12:50   #12
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My advice is to get it done near where you are do that you can supervise what is goiing on
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Old 20th November 2008, 21:31   #13
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Jehan Sam really fantastic to know that its the car of our most revered and respected Field Marshal Sam.Please post more and more pictures.
Its soothing to know that you will be soon restoring the car for occasional use. Mumbai will be a better choice I feel, seeing where you are located.We have a lot of teambhpians placed in Mumbai who will be able to answer your queries about the best places for repairs and restorations there. Maulana Mansuri 's shop in Mutton Street, behind JJ hospital, is the place where you can get some spares.The Maulana can also reliably guide you as far as procurement of more spares and repairs are concerned. I have been dealing with him for the past 5 years and find him quite reliable.
One small suggestion- please never repeat never convert the car to run on LPG/CNG -that spoils and obliterates the originality. Also the RTO in Maharashtra only permits (permission is mandatory) such conversions for cars that are upto 5 years or less old.
I have an Owner's Handbook/ maintenance Manual of the Hillman Minx Series I to VI , Husky I to II 1956-1967, that had nearly the same body shells and sported 4 cylinder 1390,1494,1592 and 1725 cc OHV engines.
Sunbeam was an upmarket brand name and under the marque Hillman, were sold the cheaper variants from the car maker.
If need be I can send you a xerox copy of this manual as I too am feeling nostalgic seeing pictures of the greatest ever Army official's car, I too being the son and also brother of Army officials.

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Old 20th November 2008, 22:38   #14
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Wow, its indeed an honour to have the car of one noble personality of our nation in our forum- team bhp sure is rocking!

Welcome aboard, Jehan. Sorry to hear about your grandfather ('had read about it back then), may his soul rest in peace.
All the same, its also good news that his car is in good hands!

Although I may not be in a position to help you out in restoration, I wish you the very best! And yes, as the others rightly say, its indeed a national heritage, and deserves to stay within the family that has (undoubtedly) cherished it!
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Old 20th November 2008, 23:47   #15
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Hey Jehan,
What Anjan says is one hundred percent right. Please do not convert her to CNG od LPG. Let the car remain as original as possible..
I know a few chaps in chor bazaar, including the Maulana, and can get you there, for getting and / or fabricating spares.
My fiat is soon to go for restoration to Soli Mistry of Zenith Auto Works. Though there's a "zameen aasmaan ka farak" between a sunbeam and my humble fiat, Soli could give us a few pointers in the right direction.
More feedback from Gurus please..
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