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Sunbeam Alpine: classic convertible star of the screen

01-May-2010 • Bond News

James Bond's greatest prop was his Aston Martin DB5. Or so we imagined. But actually, the spy who loved everyone was as promiscuous with his wheels as his women, writes Jasper Gerard in the Telegraph.

Bond was, automotively speaking, a right slapper. Ian Fleming had him driving a Bentley while the later sight of 007 in a - hiss - BMW Z3 nearly teetered into a Full Blown Constitutional Crisis.

Amid all the fast movers that this wayward agent won and lost, one foxy little minx lies forgotten. The name's Alpine. Sunbeam Alpine.

It is, you see, the car Sean Connery drives in the first proper Bond film, Dr No (1962), introducing fans to a legendary line of car chases.

As with the Aston, the Sunbeam's potency is exaggerated. But look at it today, not as an automobile but as mobile art, then name me a prettier little British rag-top.

The Alpine has grown so rare I'm seduced from the moment I see this beauty slip out of her dust sheet into something more comfortable: the open road.

With fins and chrome, this was Britain's take on Americana with a nod to the Ford Thunderbird, courtesy of the commendable Rootes Group. Yet to an American it must have seemed titchy.
I can open the passenger door while scarcely leaning over from the driver's side, while the back "seat" would leave a Shih Tzu growling about the paucity of leg room.
From elegant dials to thin steering wheel, design touches delight. This is a stylish car and was perfect for fashion-conscious Sixties girls about town.

To drive you must thrust your foot down and show who is boss, but then she's remarkably responsive. Burbling past birdsong and blossom on a Surrey back lane one balmy spring afternoon, you start to picture the picnic, tartan rug and, after a while, Ursula Andress. Well, the Sunbeam worked for 007, how about you?

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