From Rootes Review
Vol. 11, #2, February 1986
by Edward W. Warren
My wife bought it new in 1964 because she thought Elizabeth Taylor looked cool driving one in Butterfield 8. It still sits in the garage 21 years later leaking oil on the floor forcing me to leave the BMW outside. We don’t dare drive it in the rain because it leaks and tends to get rusty. We don’t drive it in heavy traffic because it gets hot. Always did, even when new. The radiator isn’t big enough. Since it is a very early Series IV Alpine, I have discovered (a couple of times to my chagrin) that a lot of its parts are really from the Series III. The transmission synchros ceased to function years ago, but it’s easy to double clutch. The Solex carburetor causes it to idle poorly because the butterflies are worn slightly egg shaped. I have three of these carburetors and find the spare pieces to be very useful. About 15 years ago I bought a hardtop from a hippie with a broken Series V and no money. It was one of the best investments I ever made since the soft top is virtually impossible to put down without damage. It introduced us to a new world of quiet and comfort since, as you know, the heater never really worked that well either. I have replaced most of the rubber stripping and all of the interior. A couple of months ago I rebuilt the window channels. To my surprise, the car doesn’t rattle any more! The body has always been tight.
A friend repainted it about 2 years ago with dark green Imeron, which is close to the original color. I wrecked it in 1972 and the insurance company said it was totaled and was only worth $500. The damage was cosmetic, so I persuaded them to let me keep the car and found an old country body man who said he could fix it for, you guessed it, $500. I told him that I would give him a few extra bucks to paint the whole car. He did. Painted it Chevrolet truck green. He was proud, I was sick. I told my wife that it was a beautiful Triumph color. She called it garden hose green.
In 1973, strange noises started to come from the engine compartment. It sounded like the clutch release bearing, so we pulled the transmission (without pulling the engine) and discovered that the horrible squeal was not the release bearing at all but was caused by the flywheel bouncing off of the engine block when the clutch was depressed. The thrust bearing had ridden off into the sunset. The ring gear had also gotten loose on the flywheel causing the starter to periodically lockup. The exhaust looked like mosquito control and the oil pressure was getting low. Even though there were only 58k miles on the odometer, it was clear that the engine needed attention. Out of curiosity, I called the regional Chrysler service rep to see if there was another engine available. To my surprise, he called back several days later and said that he had a complete new 1600cc engine in New Jersey and would ship it to the nearest Chrysler dealer for $600. Seemed cheaper than a new car, so I told him to do it. My dad and I installed the new engine and it still runs well with the odometer at 98k (besides leaking oil). We never even adjusted the valves.
Surprisingly, I have never had electrical problems. The original generator was still working well when it fell off in the street due to a broken bracket. He assured me that it would never break again, and it hasn’t. The tack was replaced about 5 years ago and just recently Tiger Tom rebuilt the speedometer. None of the other instruments have failed. Last year I bought a neat sling for the hardtop so one person can remove and replace it. I even bought a new soft top.
We drive it on dry sunny days because it makes us feel young. The front end is still tight and does not shimmy nor shake even though it has never been realigned. I don’t think anyone would know how anyway. The shock absorbers are original and have never leaked nor lost their damping ability. The tool kit is still in the trunk although it has been used a few times. It seems to run fine on, super unleaded fuel (lousy on regular leaded). The only real problem right now is that the right grease seal on the third member is leaking and has gotten grease on the brake lining. Got to fix that. Anybody know how to do it without special tools? A couple of rust spots around the rear wheels were repaired with (ugh) fiberglass. Took weeks to get the stuff off my fingers and out of my skin.
We get admiring looks from the gas station attendants and occasional offers of sale. Sometimes someone will walk up and tell me that he had a Triumph just like it 20 years ago. Sometimes people just want to know what the hell a Sunbeam is. I tell them it’s actually a mixer.
Looks like the weather is going to clear up. Maybe we’ll go for a drive.