Motorcycle: Sunbeam S7 de Luxe BJ 1951
The famous name of SUNBEAM was started by John Marston when he set up in business in 1895 and produced the first Sunbeam vehicle, a car - in 1899. He produced the first Sunbeam motorcycle in 1912 and this long and successful line of singles was going strong when he died in 1918. A syndicate then took over the business and Sunbeams were produced until 1937 when A.M.C. acquired the interests. A.M.C. designed a completely new heavyweight single for 1939 but the war forced them into wartime work - and in 1943 they passed the Sunbeam name over to the B.S.A. group who were thinking up a new motorcycle for the time after the world war.
Erling Poppe, who designed and built motorcycles since the 1920's and was brought from the bus-building division of British Tramways, designed the S7 which was also believed as a result of letters to a motorcycle magazine which invited readers to give their ideas on the „machine of the future“.
The resulting S7 came on to the market in 1946 straight after the world war and was a completely new concept in motorcycle design.
The first post-war motorcycle show was in November 1948 and by this time the undamped forks of the S7 had been redesigned to give better handling and numerous other minor alterations were made to generally improve the machine – the so called S7 de Luxe made its first public appearance at this show.
When the Sunbeam S7 hit the market, it was one of the most technologically advanced machines of its time. With their inline two-cylinder all-aluminum overhead camshaft engine, propulsion driveline, smooth power output, and many other technical refinements, her great success should have been certain.
In fact, the S7 turns out to be a sales flop and ranks among the most misunderstood vehicle concepts in the British motorcycle industry. They were really big, but maybe they were ahead of their time. By 1965, the S7 produced about 7,600 pieces and the S8 8500 copies - both enjoy a loyal fan base today.