Sunbeam Alpine

Sunbeam Alpine

Appears In
Dr. No

On Film
In Kingston, 007 orders a marine blue Sunbeam Alpine Series II Sports Tourer convertible to use on his assignment in Jamaica. He then drives the Alpine to Miss Taro’s house in the Blue Mountains although Dr. No’s assassins, the Three Blind Mice, are expecting him and try to run him off the cliffside road. With the two-door roadster’s agility, coupled with Bond’s superior driving skills, the assassins in their lumbering black hearse do not stand a chance. Bond spots an angledozer at work in the road ahead and takes advantage of the Alpine’s low profile to drive under the machine’s shovel-arm, which is reaching across the road. The bulkier hearse cannot execute the move and veers off the road, tumbling down the mountainside and erupting in flames.

The Vehicle
The original Alpine debuted in 1953 and was the first vehicle from Sunbeam-Talbot to bear the Sunbeam name alone. The Series II was launched in 1960, featuring an enlarged 1.6-litre engine (producing 80bhp) and revised rear suspension. The car used for filming in Jamaica was finished in Lake Blue paintwork with matching upholstery and boasted optional wire-spoke wheels with white-wall tyres.

The Production
When the crew arrived at the Jamaica location to shoot the chase with the Alpine and hearse, they discovered a huge Warner-Swasey excavator blocking the road. Unperturbed, director Terence Young chose to incorporate the blockage into the script, chatting to the digger driver, measuring the distance between the digger arm and the top of the sports car and then telling stuntman Bob Simmons that his “head will just go under”. Simmons then drove the Alpine at 45mph, heading straight for the extended digging arm, his car bouncing on the road. He just made it, but then had to battle to bring the car to a stop on the narrow, skiddy road. The courageous stuntman then drove the hearse over a ravine, leaping out before it erupted in flames. The owner of the Series II used in the film, Jennifer Jackson, received a £10-per-day fee for the use of her car, unaware that it would soon become a famous piece of movie history. In Fleming’s 1958 ‘Dr. No’ novel, Commander Strangways drives a Sunbeam Alpine Series I.

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