by Tom Wiencek in the May 1996 RootesReview
Special accessories to personalize your Rootes vehicle were available from the introduction of the Alpine. Most people are familiar with the options installed at the factory. These included wire wheels, road speed or whitewall tires, laminated glass windscreen, tonneau, oversize battery, radio, heater, hardtop, and overdrive.
Standard equipment included
- a starting handle
- jack with lug wrench and a tool kit which included:
- wheel brace,
- tool roll,
- sparking plug spanner and tommy bar,
- adjustable spanner,
- distributor key,
- tyre valve key,
- nave plate removal key,
- four open ended spanners and
- a grease gun
However most of the Rootes special accessories for the Alpine are not well known.
This article will focus on accessories for the Series I to III Alpine. I will not cover the accessories for the Series IV, V and Tiger. For information on these special accessories, I would suggest reading the Book of Norman, which covers these in detail.
The best sources for special accessory information are the Rootes factory brochures. As with sales brochures, there were different versions for each market.
The table shown here lists the titles and reference numbers for brochures from the British, American and Canadian markets that I have seen. If anyone has an accessory brochure not on this list please, contact us and we will add it. Especially, the Series I and V American versions.
The British market brochures were very detailed and in colour. The figures included in this article are taken from the British Market Alpine Series I brochure. The Series I-III Alpine accessory brochures for the USA market were black and white.
Series I Accessories
So what accessories were on a decked out Series I Alpine?
The British brochure lists the following for the Series I Alpine – clock (1), driving lamp (2), badge bar (3), fog lamp (4), white wall tires (5), reverse (back-up) lamps (6), rear seat cushion (7), door mirror (8), bonnet (hood) mascot (9), petrol locking gas cap (10), under bonnet lamp (11), cigar lighter (12), safety belt (lap strap) (13), fire extinguisher (14), windscreen washer, heat and demister kit, ammeter, radio, aerial, boot (trunk) floor mat, hardtop, switch-three way (for one or two auxiliary lamps), badge clips, liquid polish, interior cleaner, paint touch-up, cockpit cover and luggage grid.
Series II Accessories
Added for the Series II were: seat covers, wide range, multipurpose cushion, radiator blind, parking light, auxiliary control panel, micro-element air cleaner, dynascope bonnet mascot, owner’s manual, workshop manual, anti thief gear box lock (floor change only), tuning kits engine stage I and II, engine oil cooler, and brakes, chassis, and rear axle options.
There were no descriptions of the accessories in the Series I brochure. The Series II brochure, which boldly proclaims- “Increase driving pleasure and comfort with these striking additions to your Sunbeam Alpine,” had only a few accessory changes. The Rootes descriptions that follow are taken from the Series II brochure but could apply to both Series.
Clock – Electrically operated and requires little attention due to its extreme accuracy. It matches the other instruments and is illuminated in conjunction with the panel light switch. It is easily fitted and can be read at a glance.
Cigar Lighter – Just the thing for an open sports car, as it works as well as ever in a gale. There is no flame to blind one at night and only one hand need be removed from the wheel to work it. Just press it in and wait a few seconds until it pops out, ready to use.
Fresh Air Heater – Provision has been made for the luxury of a heater. Fresh air is drawn through the intake and comes out round ones feet and legs. The temperature can be adjusted at a touch of the control from cold through very hot as desired. An independent control operates a most efficient windscreen demister. Whether the car is open or with the hood up, driving comfort is increased enormously.
Blower Unit – A blower is also available to boost the heater effect and maintain air conditioning even at a standstill.
Ammeter – Most people like to know how their battery is coping, and this useful accessory provides the answers. Matching the other instruments it is clearly read and quickly installed.
Map Pocket – In response to a popular demand this useful pocket has been designed and fits neatly to the side of the gearbox tunnel. It is especially suitable for maps and books.
Sun Visors – (kit of 2) – Driving into the sun can become very trying. This kit enables driver and passenger sun visors to be fitted. They save a great deal of eyestrain and enable one to drive relaxed and comfortably.
Radio – Models made by Motorola (US brochure), Ekco, Pye or Radiomobile (British brochure) were available.
Windscreen Washer – Two powerful water jets enable the wipers to remove annoying flies, mud and road film leaving the windscreen crystal clear. Simply press the knob, switch on the wipers and with no further effort on your part the job is completed. To obtain the very best results a sachet of “Rootes Shiner,” a special quick action detergent, should be mixed with the water. A sample is given with each new washer and refills are only 11d.
Auxiliary Driving and Fog Lamps (complete with carrier) – Two very useful additions specifically designed for appearance coupled with superb efficiency. The fog lamp gives a penetrating light to enable the worst conditions to be overcome. The driving lamp throws a powerful long-range beam for fast driving. When both lamps are fitted, night driving presents no problems (2 and 4).
Badge Clips – For badges with a screw fixing, a clip is available at 3/6 and for those with a pillar stud the clips cost 5/3. Both are chromium plated and are secure fit on the badge bar.
Mounting Bracket – It provides a firm and secure mounting for the badge bar and lamps. Their fitting is made easy due to correctly spaced holes already drilled in it to accommodate them.
Luggage Grid – It forms a solid anchorage for bulky and heavy items, thus providing a useful amount of extra space. When not in use, its bright chromium finish enhances the appearance of the motorcar.
Cockpit Cover – Tailor made from supple vyanide, complete weather protection is given to the car interior when the hood is not required. Easily removed from its press-stud fixings, it can be folded and stowed compactly when not in use. The sturdy zip fastener, which runs down the center, enables either one or both seats to be uncovered as desired. The black colour tends not to show the dirt.
Hardtop – There are tremendous advantages gained from this very special accessory. Snug sleek lines, safety, security-and you retain all the unique characteristics of this Sports Car. Your soft hood may be used as required, because the hardtop can be speedily fixed or removed. The shining black finish blends so well with the body colour.
Fire Extinguisher – A positive aid to safety, which, by means of the clips and screws provided, can be fixed in any convenient position for emergencies. The heavy chromium plating gives it a smart appearance (14).
Reverse Lamp Kit – This kit contains a handsome pair of lamps complete with wire and switch. They are finished in chromium and resemble twin exhausts, giving an extremely smart appearance. The powerful light comes on automatically as reverse gear is engaged (6).
Boot Floor Mat – Luggage is kept free from dirt and scratches. The mat is made to measure and is attractively finished in strong leather-cloth, making it easy to clean.
The Series III accessory brochure for the British market was a single page with no descriptions. Additions were lamp carriers, bonnet flash, rebound wing mirrors, safety belt-three point, battery charger, anti mist panel, automatic boot lamp, and tyre inflator.
I hope this article has helped to clarify the history of Rootes Special Accessories for the early Alpines. If anyone has any additional information or comments let me know. My address is: 8757 Sunshine Ct., Orland Park, IL, 60462, USA, and my e-mail address is: T_wiencek@qmgate.anl.gov. If anyone would like a photocopy of any of the brochures in the table, please send a SASE to me with one stamp for each brochure requested.