This 1950 Sunbeam S7 De Luxe was previously owned by Robbie Coltrane, one of Scotland’s most celebrated actors who is perhaps best known today for his memorable appearances as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film series.
Coltrane reluctantly sold the bike in 2003 as it’s kickstart only, and his bad knee made it difficult to get the bike running. He wrote a personal note to the person who bought it and included a signed, personalized photograph as Hagrid that simply says “Please look after the Sunbeam!”
Fast Facts – The Sunbeam S7 De Luxe
- The Sunbeam S7 De Luxe was introduced in 1949 as a replacement for the outgoing S7 model, it had a few updates to further improve reliability and longevity including new cylinder linings, redesigned frames, and increased oil capacity.
- The Sunbeam S7 and S8 used many design elements from the BMW R75 WWII-era motorcycle designs that were acquired as war reparations by BSA, the parent company of Sunbeam at the time.
- The design and engineering that went into the Sunbeam S7 and S8 was advanced for the time, they’re powered by a unit construction alloy inline-two engine with a single overhead cam, a displacement of 487cc and a shaft drive to the rear wheel.
- The 1950 Sunbeam S7 De Luxe was owned by famed British actor Robbie Coltrane, best known for playing Hagrid. He also appeared as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky in the James Bond films “GoldenEye” (1995) and “The World Is Not Enough” (1999), among many other roles.
Sunbeam Cycles started out as many early motorcycle manufacturers did, not making motorcycles but making bicycles. The company was founded in 1887 in Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, England by John Marston.
The company quickly developed a reputation for building some of the best quality bicycles in the country and the business expanded rapidly.
Sunbeam did experiment with simple motorcycle designs in 1903, they were essentially just motorized bicycles, however they were unsuccessful and company founder John Marston was said to have an aversion to them.
From 1902 the company also made automobiles under the name the Sunbeam Motor Car Company. In 1912 they once again turned their attention to motorcycles, building a line of mostly single-cylinder machines that developed a reputation for good build quality – just like the bicycles that had come before them.
After WW1 the company was sold to a consortium, it would pass through a few hands before ending up in the ownership of fellow motorcycle manufacturers BSA in 1943. It would be under BSA ownership that Sunbeam’s two most famous motorcycles would be made – the S7 and the S8.
The Sunbeam S7 De Luxe
The Sunbeam S7 was released in 1946, it was developed using some German design technology from the BMW R75, a WWII era motorcycle that had been used widely by the Wehrmacht. The design rights had been acquired by Sunbeam’s parent company BSA as war reparations.
Perhaps in a twist of irony, the original BMW R32 motorcycle design 1923 had taken design inspiration from the British-built Douglas motorcycle, with its air-cooled horizontally opposed twin cylinder engine.
Many elements of the BMW R75 were rolled into the S7, including its balloon tires, frame, and shaft final drive system. The key part that didn’t get used was the horizontally-opposed twin cylinder BMW engine.
Sunbeam engineers instead developed an advanced for the era vertical inline twin cylinder 487cc engine with unit construction, a coil and distributor ignition, an aluminum alloy block and head, and a single overhead cam with a timing chain.
The engine produced 24 bhp at 6,000 rpm, which was sent to the rear wheel via a 4-speed transmission and a shaft drive. The top speed was listed as 70 mph, but many claim to have surpassed that figure.
Some early reliability problems led to the Sunbeam S7 De Luxe model being released in 1949, along with the Sunbeam S8.
The key differences between the S7 and the S8 are that the S8 is fitted with slimmer, more road-oriented tires, it had a lower weight, and a slightly lower price. The S7 De Luxe and the S8 would remain in production from 1949 until 1956.
Robbie Coltrane’s Sunbeam S7 De Luxe
The motorcycle you see here is a 1950 Sunbeam S7 De Luxe that formerly belonged to beloved Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane.
Coltrane owned the motorcycle for a number of years and wrote the following note for the new owner when he sold it to them in 2003:
“Dear New Owner, just to say congratulations! The old Sunbeam is one of the last motorcycles made in England, and only a bad knee (the one you kick-start the bike with) is making me have to sell it. I hope you have as much fun with the old bike as I have.” – Robbie Coltrane
He also included a signed photograph of himself as Hagrid, annotated “Please look after the Sunbeam!” together with other paperwork relating to his period of ownership, including some colour photographs of him with “HUK 642.”
This Sunbeam was given extensive renovations in 1995 by marque specialists Stewart Engineering, it was then fully restored in 2013, the engine being rebuilt by British Classic Motorcycles.
It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Bonhams on the 23rd of April with a price guide of £8,000 – £10,000, which works out to approximately $10,500 USD – $13,100 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Bonhams
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