You are looking at a 1931 Sunbeam Model 10 350cc OHV motorcycle. This
model was produced
for only two years, being Sunbeam's
response to the Depression which had seen them largely priced out of
the market, as most of their machines were seen as (and were) more
expensive than much of the competition.
Sadly for the company, it did
not sell well even at £65 and I believe only a dozen or so
are still in existence, with perhaps a handful on the road. It is however a very
elegant machine and has a much
"cleaner" look than the other offerings from the company,with a lean
purposeful stance and being devoid of the
spaghetti-like oil plumbing seen on other contemporary Marston models.
It draws many admiring glances and comments even from people with no motorcycling interest as such.
A Motor Cycle road test of the time suggested that few machines could
be more charming on the road and that it was fast, smooth, comfortable
and handled superbly with exceptional acceleration. It was also said to
be able to achieve 100 mpg - I suspect largely due to its very low
weight (230 lb or around 105 Kg) and minuscule 7/8" bore carburettor,
and had the "impressive yet restrained appearance for which the make
has always been famous".
I have owned the Model 10 for around two years, buying it in a poor
state and giving it a progressive restoration during that time. I
wasn't aiming for a dazzling
concours winner as that would probably make it unlikely to be ridden
(or indeed ever finished) as well as driving costs to an unacceptable
level. Smart, tidy and well-cared for was the state I was after. I also
wanted to keep as much of the original bike as possible (although of
course how much of it left Sunbeamland at the same time is a moot
point). Hopefully I have achieved that aim and the Model 10 is now a
reliable and attractive machine which is easy to start, runs
smoothly with very little vibration and has impeccable
The Sunbeam was my introduction to post-vintage hand change machines
and would be ideal for someone else looking to dip their toe in these
waters. Although Sunbeam were always known as the gentleman's
motorcycle, I am hardly that, so expressions of interest from all
sections of the population welcome!
Work I have done includes:
Extensive chrome and nickel plating;
Complete re-enamelling of frame and running gear;
Manufacture of oil tell-tale etc;
Complete overhaul of engine including honing cylinder barrel;
Rebuilding of clutch and primary transmission;
Relining both brakes;
Complete replacement of control cables
Rebuild of dynamo with original 3rd brush and half-charge resistor system;
Refurbishment of forks.
The Model 10 starts first kick with the air lever closed, light flooding of the carburetter and the ignition set about 1/3 retarded and settles
to a reliable tickover. The clutch stops (a Sunbeam speciality, whose adjusters can be seen on the primary chaincase) allow virtually noiseless engagement
of first gear and easy upward changes, although I have to confess downward changes can cause a clashing of the gear teeth! The brakes are adequate but as
in most machines of the period feeble by today's standards. The long stroke engine (which happens to share the same dimensions as the contemporary Velocette KSS) pulls
very well and gives good acceleration although I have not tried for a top speed. Handling is excellent (at least up to the 50 mph I have achieved so far)
and comfort from the well-sprung saddle and supple girder forks better than I would have imagined. It's an ideal machine for VMCC runs or pottering about
the local lanes, which is what I have used it for. Its light weight makes it easy to get onto the rear stand unlike some bikes
of the era, and moving it around with a dead engine is a piece of cake.
The Sunbeam is absolutely ready for the road. Given its age, it is of course eligible for free road tax and an MoT is unnecessary. It will come with a
rider's manual, reprints of various contemporary road tests and articles etc and a printout of the (rather inadequate) spare parts list.
I have enjoyed my time with the Model 10 but now now decided it's time for a fresh challenge so am putting the machine up for sale. My thoughts are
tending towards an Ariel Arrow (talk about chalk and cheese....).
See and hear it running here - you can see the charging working and the oil pressure indicator operating. This is the first start since it emerged from
And here you can see it on the road for a very brief run in suburban Hall Green. The bungalows visible to the left are more or less contemporary with
the Model 10.