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Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Alpine Cars and Parts For Sale' started by Hungrybunny_1, Apr 25, 2021.


Should I buy it?

  1. Yes

    1 vote(s)
  2. No

    2 vote(s)
  1. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time

    Hello forum!

    I have a chance to buy a 1961 sunbeam alpine and am wondering if I should. The engine currently inside it is blown up but it comes with an identical out of another 61’ . The hardtop and body is relatively rust free, the only issues are is it’s missing a front bumper, whatever holds the back windshield in place, brakes? Are they safe nowadays, and the floorboards might need to be replaced. The current owner is asking 5000 ( Canadian ). I am surrounded by mechanics so fixing it up is not an issue but I wonder about part prices and if they have a solid resale value. I’m just a teenager so I don’t have loads of money to put into it but it truly is a beautiful car! Any feedback would be appreciated. ( also sorry if this isn’t the right forum )
  2. RootesRacer

    RootesRacer Platinum Level Sponsor

    If the car is significantly rusty (more than just floorboards) I would look for a better car.
  3. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    No, they do not have a solid resale value. Nice, driveable Alpines @ $10,000 (or less) go unsold for weeks. But I have good news: Alpine brakes are very capable for the first couple of high speed stops, which means adequate for normal driving.
    I think the car would be a good buy at perhaps 1/2 the asking price.

  4. Warren

    Warren Bronze Level Sponsor

    If you are ready to give up the video games and other pastimes it's a lot of hourly rate to get it running. Brakes are fine as earlier stated if you can call LBS not ABS ok for a new driver.
  5. Knightowl61

    Knightowl61 Platinum Level Sponsor

    I agree with Bill, 1/2 the asking price might be reasonable. The replacement engine might need overhaul/machine shop work. Tranny might need work & seals, also clutch. Rear pinion & axle seals, also differential crown gear bolts are likely loose. The last I heard the hardtop window isn't available and top down is the best feeling on a nice day, rely on the rag top. You may find more rust once you get into it. Rebuild brakes to be safe. Wire wheels? might have worn splines. Remember this is a 60 year old car. Most of us put in a lot more $$ than we'll ever get out. Good Luck.
  6. husky drvr

    husky drvr Platinum Level Sponsor


    If you're thinking of acquiring any Alpine not currently on the road and not having a very thorough idea of its condition is going to be a few hours invested and then having a fun little car to drive, then you'll most likely be disappointed.

    What you are considering is more than a bit like getting married. Alpine ownership really is a commitment and a one sided one at that, but also possibly rewarding. If you can't see it then think about this, the Alpine is sixty years old. The manufacturer was out of business about a decade after sII production. Almost any part you will need is going to have to be sourced and ordered from a specialty supplier. That's time and money. Many parts are NLA. Now you are looking for used parts or you will have to engineer a substitute. More downtime. You didn't say much about your abilities or resources available. The only real way for an owner on a budget to survive is for them to have a space for and the willingness to do their own work. Alpines aren't complicated and service manuals are available. If you've read "between the lines" then you possibly noticed that Alpine ownership almost certainly entails having another vehicle so you don't have to rely on the Alpine for transportation. Even when new, Alpines required considerably more maintenance than any modern car.

    I borrowed this little questionnaire from the LocostUSA forum. It's actually about building a Lotus 7 style sports car from scratch. It's generally applicable to returning a sidelined Alpine back to safe and reliable street usage - the specifics are different though.

    Ask these questions of yourself: (and be honest with your answers, the truth can hurt)

    1. Do you enjoy metal fabrication, problem solving, and general dirty, greasy, sharp metal shavings strewn in all directions type hard work?

    Yes- Continue to question 2.
    No- Stop now. Buy a completed Caterham, Birkin, Westfield etc.

    2. Do you have a place to do aforementioned work, without offending the people who allow you to work there?

    Yes- Continue to question 3.
    No- Sorry but now is not the time. Wait until you are older and own your own home or have access to a good working environment.

    3. Do you have the space to dismantle and store parts from a donor car?
    (backyard only counts if you live in the southern US [​IMG] ) Make sure it's your property you are junking up, your parents may not be as tolerant of the mess. You will have lots of car parts to clean, degrease, paint and drag in and out periodically to test fit as you fabricate.
    Yes- Continue to question 4.
    No- Sorry but now is not the time. Wait until you are older and own your own home or have access to space to do with what you please.

    4. Are you the type of person that obsesses about things, but abruptly looses interest and moves on to something else new and fascinating? (girls count too)
    Yes- Maybe this project is not for you. It will take years of your life and must be regarded as a huge commitment due to the cost and time involved. If this is what you want to do with all of your spare time and money for the next several years then go for it, but otherwise consider another hobby. Building one of these things requires altering your lifestyle. (for most folks)
    No- If you are a cold calculated, singleminded determined SOB then continue to question 5.

    5. Do you have the disposable income to pull this off? The most frugal of builders will spend at least $3-$5k on this project. If you have the time and brains to plan your build well the cost can come down some, but you will need to be very smart when choosing a donor. Buy something that will allow you to sell anything you won't use. It means a bigger buy in up front, but it also allows you to recoup most of the cost if you are a good Ebayer/Seller. Another thing of note, if you live in a densely populated area it will be easier to sell parts. Shipping a $75 Miata door across the country doesn't make sense to many people. If you live in the boonies, consider it a disadvantage when it comes to selling the larger heavier parts of your donor.

    Yes- continue to question 6.
    No- Wait until you are more financially stable.

    6. Are you married to or do you have a low maintenance, understanding girlfriend?
    Yes- Good, you are a lucky man, treat her nice and move on to question 7.
    No- You need to decide which is more important to you, staying together or building a car. There will be friction at times. Time you used to spend with them will be spent in the garage making sparks fly.

    7. Do you have, or are you willing to acquire the tools, skills, and knowledge needed to pull this off? You need to know or be willing to learn how to weld. (MIG at least) You need to cut, miter, and fit together steel. You need to cut, bend and fit aluminum. You need to lots of expensive tools or access to them. (Make sure to budget at least $1500 for tools if you're already got basic hand tools, and maybe $2000+ if you're starting from scratch. These tools last a lifetime, so they don't count in the cost of the car.) You also need to have a basic understanding of, or be willing to learn how the different systems of a car work. Brakes, fuel, cooling, electrical, you will need to do it all.

    Yes- Congratulations, you just might be driving a car you built from scratch one day.
    No- Sorry but this task may be a bit more than you can handle. Many more Locosts are started than are ever finished. Consider yourself luckier than the poor SOB who poured every spare minute and dollar into one of these projects only to have to sell it off before completion.
    Alpine 1789 and Alpaholic like this.
  7. Aladin Sane

    Aladin Sane Gold Level Sponsor

    I'm glad I didn't read that checklist before diving into my project. While I can answer yes to most of the questions, just reading the questions threatened to take most of the fun out of the project. ;)
  8. Alpine Addict

    Alpine Addict Platinum Donor Platinum Level Sponsor

    I agree the statements above should be 1/2 the asking price assuming rust is minimal. if it is not walk away and find a better car. Can you post any photographs? The 2 main parts suppliers in the USA are Sunbeam Specialties and Classis Sunbeam both have online catalogs which should give you some idea on prices for parts. It is fairly easy to put a lot of money into these cars. A project will be 3 X the original cost estimate, aggravation and timeframe. Are your mechanic friends going to charge you for their services?
  9. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time

    Alpine addict,

    No they will not charge for services and we have every tool imaginable, thus the only costs would be parts and my sanity. Sadly I have no photos to show and I have not looked underneath which is a big red flag ik but I would have a chance to do so before I buy it. I will communicate with the buyer that their price is unreasonable and see what happens.
  10. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time


    Thank you for the checklist, I have everything readily available when it comes to space,tools and experienced mechanics/welders. They will not charge me for this work ( yeah I’m a lucky SOB ). I know they are both extremely complicated and extremely simple machines which makes me believe I can get this on the road by hopefully this summer. There’s a lot of talk about hard to find parts but would it be cheaper to pick n pull newer systems and implant them into a sunbeam? Sorry for the questions... :)
  11. Hillman

    Hillman Gold Level Sponsor

    Hi Hungry,

    I'll add one more thing, since I'm in Sask. and any old cars are likely in the same condition. I've never seen a local (all it's life) car that doesn't have rust issues. If they admit to floorboards, there's more, maybe a lot more. Look carefully.

    Also assume the second engine is as good as the first. I have a SI engine that I was talked into buying 'to clear an estate'. It came with a large machine shop bill for rebuilding. While I didn't pay much for it, when I opened up the front cover, it was clear the timing chains and sprockets were beyond end of life. If you buy, you can have this engine gratis. Don't know about the rest, but I doubt it's any better than the front. I hate to say it, but I imagine the bill was 'imaginative'.

    Interesting, I try to watch all ads nearby. Can you link to the ad for the car you're interested in.
  12. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time


    This sunbeam is currently unlisted and if I don’t decide to buy it the owner will most likely just keep it for spare parts, yeah I’m in Alberta but the car is in BC. The engine is running when pulled but your right about the potential wear issues inside of it. I might run it until it breaks down then install a newer engine, depends on what’s fixable with the spare parts I can acquire. Thank you for your offer! I’ll see what I decide to do.
  13. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Installing new systems into an Alpine can be come an all consuming project. As in consuming all your time and energy and to be truthful, there is no much that is transferable into an Alpine. Junkyards can probably be best described as a source of parts that can be adapted to work in an Alpine. Nothing is a bolt in, except maybe Ford (Pinto, Mutt II) wheels. These cars are 50-60 years old and it is expecting a lot to expect anything to span that much age difference.

  14. RootesRooter

    RootesRooter Platinum Level Sponsor

    If you get in tight with clubs like SAOCA and local owners in your area, used Series II parts (excluding rust-free body panels) are still not that tough to find. I'd recommend trying to find a BC local who's willing to look it over and let you know how complete this one is, and whether its just the floorboards that need work..
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2021
  15. husky drvr

    husky drvr Platinum Level Sponsor


    Sounds like you've got it made in the support department. Congratulations.

    As Bill inferred, the quickest way to get your possible acquisition on the road is to go stock. The more you change, the more becomes involved with your changes. It's a geometric progression, not linear. You should browse some of the modified project threads for inspiration and warnings.

    Have fun,
  16. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time

    Update: I am now most likely going to buy it and have a photo

    Attached Files:

  17. Bill Blue

    Bill Blue Platinum Level Sponsor

    Let me be the first to offer congratulations and welcome to the Club. Please keep us apprised of your Alpine adventures. I think you are going to learn it is a steep learning curve. Even though they are quite conventional in design, they come with a ton of quirks.
  18. roger

    roger Bronze Level Sponsor

    congrats.you'll learn a lot of things that'll be useful for life.
  19. Hungrybunny_1

    Hungrybunny_1 Donation Time

    Thank you all!

    Life has a funny way of changing things, I am just completing the purchase of a wedgewood blue 59’ series one ( it has been repainted from thistle grey ). It comes with many spare parts which I’m sure will make there way onto this forum. I believe this to be a better deal and will keep you all updated on my ( very amateur ) restoration. My first upgrades will be a custom roll bar and racing stickers, after that I am planning a speaker system install. Of course, only after it’s had a full mechanical inspection I’m sure I will find more burdens to overcome.

    Last edited: May 25, 2021

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