Posts Tagged ‘Richard Stanley Coachcraft’

A bevi-at-the-Kevi comin’ up (M Bisset)

Designer Louis Coatalen’s obsession with engineering excellence fused into race successes which built Sunbeam’s brand.

1564 Sunbeam 20/60s were built, only 45 or-so of these superb 3.2-litre, straight-six touring machines still exist. Richard Stanley’s chassis 1640D was one of a tiny number exported by the Wolverhampton firm to New Zealand.

Bob King and Richard Stanley bowling along at a comfy 90-100km/h, Howqua Inlet at right (M Bisset)
Mangaweka paddock basher with redemption, fortunately, not too far away (R Stanley Collection)

It looked like it was going to be one of the fatalities too. Late in life it became a paddock-bomb which was thrashed to within an inch of its life on the Mangaweka, North Island farm where Stanley rescued it from under a fruit tree in 1970.

“A mate tipped me off, for the princely sum of $20 I bought the Sunbeam radiator, engine, gearbox, front axle, a rear Ford axle and the chassis to which all of the above was attached, albeit brutally shortened by four-feet. It was as ugly-as-sin but most of the critical bones were there.”

Handsome beast with great on-road presence (M Bisset)
Water pump into generator into magneto…neat. 3.2-litre, OHV two-valve six (M Bisset)

“It was a big job, but I had the skills to rebuild the chassis, make a body, and sub-out the mechanicals I couldn’t do, in my Auckland ‘shop.”

“I did a deal with my Australian wife-to-be that I’d finish the car before emigrating to Australia, the completed car was going to be my calling card, or rolling CV to establish a business in Australia.”

Within five years of establishing Richard Stanley Coachcraft in Melbourne, the business became one of Australia’s go-too body builders. His work included a half-dozen GP Bugattis, various of Ettore’s touring cars, an uber-rare Grand Prix Talbot Darracq 700, Delage D8 and CO2, Hispano Suiza and many others.

Stanley’s profile was raised via his racing exploits, initially in an Austin 7 Spl, then a self-constructed, supercharged 200bhp Amilcar AC. This pre-war combination became the quickest in Australia for a decade or so; the car ultimately found its way to the UK.

Richard Stanley, Amilcar AC, from Duncan Ricketts in Bill Morris’ ERA, Mal Reid in Monoskate Ford V8, David Reid in the red Reid Ford Spl, then Keith Harvey in another Ford Spl. Wakefield Park, date folks? “I beat him off the line, he had pole, held him all the way around till the main straight, then 50 years of fine tuning took over! I was the first Vintage Car though!” Richard recalls (HSRCA)
Jamieson with Eildon below M Bisset)

Stanley’s competition pedigree shows in his finessed, simpatico with the car. Despite the long period of ownership, Stanley is still in lust with it, last year he and wife Judy – this discerning lady is a 3-litre Sunbeam owner – headed for the Queensland sun during Victoria’s, long, dreary, foggy winter. Lancefield to Rockhampton is a lazy 1900km each way but the big beast comfortably did each leg in four days with plenty of tourism side-bars on top. In fine-fettle these cars are mighty-good tourers even on Australia’s notoriously average country B-roads.

(M Bisset)

Maestro Stanley at rest, a talented and capable pair of hands to say the least.


(M Bisset)

Many thanks to Bob King and Richard Stanley for allowing me to join them on their Boy’s Own Annual Tour. The route, mighty fine driving in Victoria’s sub-alpine high country, was Lancefield, Kilmore, Broadford, Glenburn – Alan Jones lived in the area and owned the Glenburn Hotel for a while after he first quit F1 at the end of 1981 – Yea, Yarck, Bonnie Doon, Mansfield, Howqua, Jamieson and Kevington for the night. Then Kevington, Jamieson, Eildon, Snobs Creek, Acheron, Alexandra, Yea, Broadford and back to Lancefield.

(M Bisset)

Four speed manual shift is to the right of, and obscured by the steering column. Extremely comfortable and built for long days in the saddle.

(M Bisset)

Standard ware is a single Claudel-Hobson carburettor, two SUs were fitted to give a bit more grunt, with bespoke manifold a-la-Stanley during the rebuild.

(M Bisset)

Rotax lambs, above and below.

(M Bisset)
(M Bisset)


Happy snaps Mark Bisset


(M Bisset)