1937 Silver Sunbeam 23″ Gents Roadster
Model W Silver Light Tourist with 3-Speed Hub and Little Oil Bath Chaincase
This Sunbeam is a rare model. 1937 was the first year that the Little Oil Bath chainguard was offered as an option on the Silver Sunbeam. It was also the final year of the old-style full rounded mudguards that Sunbeams had used since the turn of the century. From 1938, as a concession to modern lightweights, the ‘front spearpoint’ was adopted.
1937 was the only year that combined these two features. Three quarters of a century down the road, we’re attracted by older designs on our vintage machines, so the fact that this machine was slightly old-fashioned at the time is very appealing.
SUMMARY: This particular example is in very good original condition, with the exception that it’s fitted with a Hercules Type A 3-Speed rear hub instead of the Sturmey Archer 3-Speed specified. The SA gear trigger remains. The head transfer has worn off, though the chainguard transfer is intact. As you can see, above, the all-important SILVER SUNBEAM logo is still prominent. The rear mudguard transfer can just be seen, as can the dealer transfer on the seat tube. The seating arrangements have been taken care of by a comfortable Wrights mattress saddle. Caliper brakes, etc as per catalogue. Accessory rear carrier and lighting set fitted. Mechanically fine. Tyres are old but functional; I’ll include a pair of new tyres and tubes in the sale.
After the Depression, Sunbeam needed to increase sales without prejudicing their high standards. They obviously couldn’t reduce the price of their ‘Golden’ or ‘Royal’ models so, in 1934, they widened their model range and introduced cheaper machines they called ‘Silver Sunbeams.’ This range continued until the outbreak of war and included sports machines as well as slightly sportier but more traditional styles such as this Light Tourist.
If you just want a good-looking functional 73-year-old machine as your daily hack, this Sunbeam is certainly up to the task. It’s well-built …in fact, probably too well-built. Sunbeam ended up selling their business because they simply could not continue making such high-quality products and at the same time keep reducing their prices to meet the competition.
If you want to make this Sunbeam totally original, a rear wheel with SA hub is easy to find. If it were me, I’d swap comfort for looks by adding a leather Brooks saddle (though they weren’t standard for this model range). I’d fit black handlebar grips too. You’d then have an even nicer original machine that will only appreciate in value.