John Marston has inherited founded in 1790 enterprise manufacturing enameled and lacquered products in the Japanese style. In 1887, he made a valuable addition to the family business, having mastered the production of bicycles. Among the opponents of his products are high quality paint, so she got the trademark "Sunbeam."
Already in 1899, Marston began experimenting with automobiles, and in the early XX century, the company has become one of the UK's leading vehicle manufacturers. But first motorcycle "Sunbeam" appeared only in 1912. This is quite advanced for its time, the design has developed John Greenwood. In the bottom corner of the single tubular frame was built bottom-valve single-cylinder engine capacity of 347 cc, a multi-plate clutch torque transmitted to the two-stage gearbox. The motor and transmission were the main chain, both worked in sealed enclosures filled with oil - a trait common for bicycles and "Sunbeam".
Already in July 1913 there was a second bike with a two-cylinder V-shaped 770 cc engine Japa. In September of the same year he made his debut version of the single-cylinder models with increased to 499 cc displacement of the engine. Both machines are equipped with three-speed gearbox. On the single-cylinder racing version of Howard Davies finished second in the "Tourist Trophy" in 1914.
During the First World War, the company supplied bikes for the armies of the Allies, including for Russia. John Marston died in 1918 at age 82, and his heirs sold the bike soon and motorcycle department of chemical concern «Noble Industries Ltd.». The company continued to produce the same range as in the years of the warriors, and its riders successfully performed in competitions of the highest class: Tom de la Hay won the "Tourist Trophy" in the 500 cc class in 1920, and Alec Bennett repeated his success in 1922.
Complete revision of the model range occurred in 1923. Were taken off the market two-cylinder machine, and a number of single-cylinder motorcycles supplemented with engines (347 and 599 cc). In addition, work on the overhead valve engine. They debuted in late 1923 in versions 347 and 493 cc For the season 1925 has been prepared and the model with an overhead camshaft in the cylinder head (driven by a vertical shaft and bevel gears), but she did not show any advantages to the version with locking rod drive top flaps. Charlie Dodson at this bike twice - in 1928 and 1930 - has won the "Tourist Trophy" in the 500 cc class.
Only in 1929 on production motorcycles "Sunbeam" flat gas tank mounted between the upper frame tubes have given way to a saddle-shaped. In the 30's are gone filled with oil, the housing chains, appeared four-speed gearbox with foot shift mechanism. Model range in 1931, added the machine with a 248-cc overhead valve engine. Technical conservatism inevitably led to a drop in profits, and in 1936 was sold to a chemical company.
At first, the new owner said only in the translation production of motorcycles "Sunbeam" with their native plant in Wolverhampton on a huge enterprise «AMC» in the suburbs of London. Only in October 1938, was presented a new family of highly placed chain drive camshaft and magneto. A four "foot" gearbox was located in a separate block. But a year later the production of motorcycles, "Sunbeam" was dropped, and the conglomerate «AMC» army engaged in the manufacture of motorcycles «Matchless» and «AGS». In 1943 he built an experimental two-cylinder motorcycle with a V-shaped 990-cc OHV engine «Matchless», telescopic front fork and wheel-drive wheelchair, but the project was not continued. In the same year, the rights to the trademark "Sunbeam" were sold concern "BSA".
The new owner gave the brand a truly triumphant return. Motorcycle Show at the Fall 1946 public saw the car is original, designed by Erling Rorre and presented as "Sunbeam S7». In a massive duplex frame with candle rear suspension was longitudinally mounted on rubber silent blocks two-cylinder inline engine (487 cc, 25 hp), with overhead camshaft, chain driven. Of aluminum alloy cylinders were cast integrally formed in the upper part of the crankcase. The torque is transmitted to the rear wheel via clutch, four-speed transmission (placed in the same unit with the engine), propeller shaft and worm-gear transmission. The saddle was suspended on a spring-arm suspension. Motorcycle weighed a lot (195 kg) and looked very massive, helped by an impressive telescopic front fork and a huge tire size 4,75-16. Unfortunately concern plans did not materialize.
Motorcycle frightened buyers of its price, mediocre dynamics (maximum speed - 125 km/h is not enough even at that time, was issued with a prototype 600-cc four-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, which remained a prototype. Latest reminder of the steel grade scooters "BSA Sunbeam," which produced from 1958 to 1964.