Welcome to a brief history of the oldest known 'Series' Sunbeam Alpine. Built by the Rootes factory in Coventry, England, Alpine registration number XRW 302 was the fourth of only nine fully functioning prototypes built for pre production testing after the design was finalised in 1957. It has a well documented racing history, having raced at Goodwood and all the well known British 1960s circuits. it is now the earliest surviving 'series' Sunbeam Alpine and the only prototype in existence.
XRW 302 avoided the worst rigors of testing programme by being selected as a 'model' car on which the design department did development work, including work for the series 2 Alpine. In 1962 the factory sold the car to Bernard Unett, a Rootes factory development engineer who worked on the Alpine development programme. He was a subsequent 3 times British Touring car champion of the 1970s. Unett developed the car for racing by uprating the suspension, and the engine with a special cam which was especially made in Sweden. Unett first raced the car in 1962 and by 1964 Unett and XRW 302 became one of the most successful drivers / cars of the year on the British club circuit, winning the Freddie Dixon Challenge Trophy, which was considered to be the biggest prize on the British Club circuit at the time.
When XRW 302 finished its racing career it passed through various owners until it was bought by Simon Goldby in 1972, who used it for every day motoring for four trouble free years, and was mostly unaware of its previous history until the mid 1970s. The car was garaged, fell into disrepair and remained unused until 1995 when a full restoration project was begun by Simon. In April 2000 the car was back on the road restored to its FORMER GLORY. Simon sold the car in september 2005, when I became the proud owner.
XRW 302 made the front cover of 'pratical classics' magazine in sept 2000, which included a five page article on the car and its history. It is also featured in Chris McGovern's book 'Alpine the classic Sunbeam' which includes a detailed account of the prototype testing programme.