John Panks acquired the historic Sunbeam shown here by promising its British owner that the car would never pass out of British hands. Panks, managing director of Rootes Motors in Manhattan and an Englishman himself, felt the nationalist overtones of the bargain clearly justifiable. One of five 1921 Sunbeams with similar characteristics (three-liter, eight-cylinder engine with twin overhead camshafts producing 108 hp and capable of 102.5 mph), this one competed with distinction (fifth place) in the Indianapolis "500" of 1921 and became one of the favorite racing cars of Britain's great Sir Henry Segrave.
The only one of the five originals that has not been "butchered" (i.e., modernized), the car has been completely reconditioned by Panks, who plans to compete with it in vintage meets in the U.S. "It had been put out to pasture, but now it's back," he says delightedly. "It's just like a Thoroughbred come back to life."