The first version of the Sunbeam-Talbot 90, the Mark I was released in July of 1948, hardly stood out as a result of its cutting edge design, although it's 1944cc (119 cu in) overhead-valve engine did produce enough power to allow quite respectable performance.
The Mk I with its none-too-impressive side valve engine derived from a prewar Humber came with the choice of the saloon or a pleasing two-door drophead coupe. Around 20,000 of these upstanding machines were manufactured.
In October 1950 the 90 became the Mk II, complete with a brand new chassis frame which included coil spring independent front suspension, Panhard rod rear axle location, an overhead-valve 70bhp 2267cc version of the engine, and a modified front end without the extra driving lamps and with headlamps raised to give a more attractive line. There were also air intakes either side of the radiator grille.
Changes to the transmission included closer gearbox ratios, and this was the first Sunbeam-Talbot to use a hypoid-bevel rear axle. Overdrive did not become an option until the introduction of the Mk III version.
In October 1952, after two years, Mk II evolved into Mk IIA, now having 77bhp instead of 70bhp and no rear wheel covers. It also had pierced road wheels and enlarged brakes to improve the other half of performance. By this time the top speed could approach 90mph, although the general impression was that the car could have performed much better if it had been fitted with a floor gearchange.
As well as the saloon, a drophead coupe was offered, both cars representing the start of a new line of somewhat smarter and faster Sunbeam-Talbots.
The cars were so capable that when the Mk II was launched in 1950, there was a concerted effort by the factory to compete in motorsport to demonstrate the new car's considerable abilities.
The Mk II was a major development over its predecessor because of its all-new chassis with coil spring and wishbone front suspension, as well as a larger version of the four-cylinder powerplant fitted to the Mk I — this time with 2267cc (138 cu in) of power.
The publicity conscious Rootes group were not slow in entering these early 90s into various rallies enjoying considerable success.
With an eye to increasing performance, a number of Improvements were made to the Mk II, which appeared in 1952.
A larger overhead-valve engine was fitted, and the somewhat basic suspension was much improved.
Twin air inlets appeared on each side of the radiator grille and the headlights were raised. The final revamp came in 1952 with the Mk IIA, whose tuned engine and higher top speed required bigger brakes, which were cooled by pierced wheels.
Overall the Sunbeam Talbot 90 in its three formats justified its place in history and could be regularly described as a stable, well-behaved vehicle with excellent road manners.
In October 1954 the Sunbeam-Talbot badge was abandoned, though it was not the end for the car, which effectively remained in production for a further three years in the near-identical form of the Mk 1ll, although carrying a Sunbeam Supreme badge.