The chrome had come back from refinishing and certain parts were being installed on the car. The car was starting to really come together and become the car we hoped for. The interior was almost complete minus door cards, carpet, a tunnel cover, and a proper steering wheel. I use complete loosely but I think you get the idea. The quarter windows were eventually installed after a trip to Canning’s. I was still missing the glass and would be getting installed at a later time. The windows were slightly hitting on the windshield since the windshield wasn’t quite lined up with the quarter window angle. I gave it my best shot but I was no expert. I intend to eventually take the car to Pete’s Auto Glass to get the angle just right. For now, the current installation would have to do I would have to live with a tiny amount of binding. Not enough to damage the chrome, but noticeable to the trained eye.
The original steering wheel was removed long ago. A replacement aftermarket steering wheel was installed by a previous owner and had seen better days. We briefly considered reusing the steering wheel but my dad was convinced the steering wheel had to be wood. For once, I actually agreed with him. However, from the parts car, we also had an original steering wheel which is a two-part steering wheel. I am the kind of guy who prefers originality over modification. I know that sounds hypocritical while doing a restomod, but what I mean to say is, if you can put something back original over putting an aftermarket part on, I prefer the original.
The original steering wheel has an outer wheel, an inner wheel, and an adjustable knob. The outer wheel is what is used for steering and the inner is used for the horn, and the adjustment knob is for adjusting the steering wheel closer or further from the driver. Our original steering wheel wasn’t exactly in Concourse condition. We ran this by our Tiger Club contact for guidance and he recommended going with a newer unit because the money we would be spending on the newer wooden wheel would most likely be less than the cost of restoring the original wheel. I found this logic as sound as can be. Although we would lose the adjustment of the steering wheel, my dad and I ended up deciding to go with a new wooden steering wheel. We also felt like the steering wheel distance really would be needed to be changed much since we would most likely be the only ones driving the car regularly.
Before we could install the steering wheel, we had to have a steering wheel boss to attach the wheel to. The boss we had was fine but it wasn’t the right for the steering wheel we wanted to buy. We needed a boss that was going to work with a Moto-Lita dished steering wheel. After much research online, I found a company, Holden Vintage, and Classic, in the United Kingdom which sold a boss for the Sunbeam Alpine which also came with a horn function and the Rootes logo. The only problem was it was going to come from across the pond but I wasn’t in any rush.
After a few months and several email notifications later, the boss made it to my garage. Covid-19 took its toll on manufacturing and shipping in the UK at the time. The part was beautiful and installed perfectly with the steering column. All I needed now, was the steering wheel.
The steering wheel we settled on was a Moto-Lita 14″Mark Three Cobra Dished. We chose this wheel because it had a Shelby Cobra look to it and to my dad and me, it was simply stunning. I also love the story of Moto-Lita. It’s a British company that made their company sound Italian in order to sound more exotic. Regardless of the name, the steering wheels are a work of art. I ordered the wheel in August 2021 and it finally arrived in October 2021. The boss and wheel showed up around the same time. I picked up stainless hardware from Canning’s Ace Hardware and installed the wheel. The wheel looked stunning and cleaned up the interior. The dash and steering wheel was simply put, the most beautiful parts of the car.
During the steering wheel install, I reinstalled the cover over the boss. This further cleaned up the look of the column. While in the interior, I fully installed all of the window crank mechanisms as well as the door pull. I couldn’t fully install the window crank because the door cards help support the window crank from falling off with the help of a spring.
We started to look around the car for additional items to complete. We both came to the realization that the car was for the most part road legal. One thing which had to be done was seat belts. Now there are two types of belts we could have gone with, over-the-shoulder and lap belts. The lap belts were quickly ruled out due to the folding characteristics of the body if, heaven forbid, ever happened. The only option which was left was the over-the-shoulder designed belt. After a search online and asking around, we decided on a should belt from SeatBeltPlus.com.
There was one small issue. If you look at modern cars, the shoulder harness high point is located above the shoulder. The problem with our car was the highest point of our seat belt was on the wheel well behind the seats and was level or slightly lower than the passenger’s shoulder. The Sunbeam Alpine was made in a time when seatbelts weren’t really considered. The problem on our mind was that in an accident the shoulder strap would pull the occupant into the seat. The options we had were to install a seatbelt bar or roll bar which would raise the height of the highest point seatbelt or keep the seatbelt at its current height. We opted to forego the seatbelt bar and roll bar and just keep the seat beat at its existing height. Although not ideal, there are still options we can have installed onto the seat which can raise the seatbelt height. We decided to push this down the road to be reevaluated later down the road.
The next thing we decided to do was replace the rear leaf spring bushings. Turns out the rear springs we had were not the original springs that came with the car. The Sunbeam bushings I had purchased for replacement wouldn’t work. Luckily, Betts Truck Parts and Service in Santa Fe Springs had a complete set of bushings to use for the mystery leaf springs. I plan on eventually replacing these with an original set but the springs on the car will do for now. Now the car was essentially road worthy. All that was left was to start the fine-tuning process. Motor on.