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Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club 1959 to 1968 Sunbeam Alpine silhouette Sunbeam Alpine Owners Club logo

Sunbeam Alpine Visual Identification

The following will enable you to identify the series of an Alpine with missing chassis plates.

Series I Alpines have only a small chrome guide fillet at the bottom leading edge of the door windows. Open the doors and only the glass sticks more than an inch or two above the body of the door.

Series II Alpines have a full height guide channel for the leading edge of the glass. Open the doors and each has a long chrome strip sticking up at the front.

Series III Alpines have the dummy quarter lights and squarish cornered parallelogram-shaped side windows of the Series IV, IVa and V but still have the high fins, sloping tail lights, multi-barred grille and bulbous over-riders (without rubber buffers of the Series IV and V.)

Series IV and IVa Alpines have a grille aperture with a single stainless horizontal strip with oval Sunbeam crest badge in the centre. Over the grille and in front of the bonnet, there are chrome SUNBEAM letters. Bumpers are the same type as on earlier Series but are fitted with new style over riders with black rubber facing. At the rear there are vertical taillights.

Series IVa. Series IV and IVa cannot be told apart visually, but on manual cars with correct gearboxes, reverse will be on the left on a IV and on the right on a IVa.

Sunbeam Alpine brochure picture

Series V Alpines appears similar to the Series IV but have foot well vents (look for the control knobs marked V on either side below the dashboard) and no SUNBEAM letters on the panel in front of the bonnet.

These features changed exactly with a Series change and most are unlikely to have been changed since but many people are fooled by bonnet, door and boot corners, which did not change exactly at the introduction of the Series V.

Bonnet and door bottom rear corners went square late in Series IVa and boot bottom corners did not go square until early Series V.

There are many other minor changes but those listed here are the most obvious ways of identify an Alpine with missing chassis and body plates.

It is possible to make a car from one series look like another although there seems to be no point as there are only minor differences in value between series. If you find a car with no chassis plate and you suspect this has been done, the most likely is a gearbox change to turn a IV into a IVa which is often done with no intention to deceive but simply to add the benefit of synchromesh on first. It’s fairly easy to swap the door window guides and screen to make an II look like a I or vice- versa but to fool an expert other changes would have to be made. Other serious bodywork modifications have to be made to change between any of the series or between them and Series l and II and any modifications like this needs to be checked with great caution.


If you are able to find a chassis plate, a small rivited aluminium plate underneath the bonnet on top of the bulkhead, it should contain a series of numbers and letters that corresponds to the table below:

Sunbeam Alpine

Chassis Number


Alpine/Tiger Series/Mark




Alpine Series 1

The first Alpines had no badge shields



Alpine Series 2

Has a chrome post supporting the leading edge of the door glass



Alpine Series 3

Has big fins but twin fuel tanks in rear wings



Alpine Series 4

Most have round cornered doors and bonnet



Alpine Series 4a

Some have square cornered doors and bonnet, all synchro gearbox, and vinyl soft top cover



Alpine Series 5

1725 engine, no chrome SUNBEAM letters on front panel.



Tiger Mark 1 (Alpine '260')

260 engine and metal hood bins



Tiger Mark 1a ('Alpine 260 A')

260 engine Alpine 4a body and fittings



Tiger Mark 2

289 engine, no battery box cut out




Aluminium body on space frame

The chassis number is followed by a series of letters to indicate the specification of the car,

The first group of letters comprise of a 2 letter code:

GT - the car was supplied with a hardtop and tonneau cover, wooden dashboard and steering wheel.

OD - the car was supplied with Over Drive

BW - the car was supplied with Borg Warner Automatic transmission (Series IV only)

SB - Sealed Beam Headlamps (US Market)

The second group of letters comprise of a 3 letter code

The first letter indicates the intended market or if left or right hand drive:

H - Home market (the United Kingdom)

R - Right hand drive

L - Left hand drive

E - CKD (Completely Knocked Down) Export to Home Specification

W - CKD Right hand drive Export (South Africa)

X - CKD Left hand drive Export (Italy)

The second letter indicates Rootes body style, so for Alpines this should always be:

R - Roadster

The third and final letter indicates the specification:

O - Standard

X - Non Standard (e.g laminated windscreen for US market)

P - Police

3 - Small bore OHV engine for Bermuda (Reduced c.c)

On Tigers the final letters should be FE - Ford Engine

Sunbeam Alpine Rear Light