Car & Classic will be auctioning an incredibly rare 1964 Sunbeam Venezia – chassis no #490007. The result of a ’60s Anglo-Italian collaboration between the company that invented the famous automobile structural system Superleggera and the British auto manufacturing group Rootes, the Venezia was produced in minute numbers, with only around 200 ever being built before the doors of the Milanese Carrozzeria would close forever. The exact number of Venezias is unknown, as is the case with many other models designed and built by Touring, due to the fact that all of the company’s papers were lost to fire in 1966. However, Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni, the talented stylist-cum-entrepreneur who took over at the helm of the family business when his father died in 1948, claimed that 200 units is correct. Founded in 1926, Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera is one of the greatest names in car design. Synonymous with Italian Style it would go on to create myriad masterpieces of sober elegance for the most renowned brands in the world, many consider its output to be symbols of timeless beauty.

The Sunbeam Venezia represents the third chapter of the agreement stipulated in 1961 between Touring and Rootes. Initially the Hillman Super Minx model was made in Italy, for which Touring set up a special construction line within its new headquarters at the gates of Milan. This huge, cutting edge factory was considered the largest at the time in Europe and was purchased precisely to expand production in light of contracts to supply vehicles across the Channel. Secondly, the order included the restyling and construction of the Sunbeam Alpine Spider; after which, the Venezia was the next step but also sadly the last one.

The Sunbeam Venezia went into production in 1962. The launch was sensational, with the car being exhibited in the famed Piazza San Marco in Venice (with the Italian “Venezia” lending its name to the model) where it resonated with both the press and public alike. Even transportation of the car itself over the lagoon made the news and was immortalized in an emblematic photo widely seen in the newspapers. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulties coupled with the disappearance of Lord Rootes and the consequent termination of contracts with Touring, production of the Venezia ceased in 1963-64 and it would be just two short years later that saw the Carrozzeria’s move towards bankruptcy.

The Sunbeam Venezia is a well-finished coupé with a unique and refined personality which combined the design purity typical of Touring to really to stand out from the competition. A generously sized two-door, the car could comfortably accommodate four people inside and was built using the Superleggera construction technique. Patented in the mid-1930s by Felice Bianchi Anderloni, this format was designed to reduce weight and increase sturdiness by joining the body and frame with pylons of thin steel tubes covered with aluminium panels.

Based upon the Hillman Super Minx, among the distinctive features of the Venezia are the grille and twin round headlights set into oval cuts in the upper part of the fenders, recalling the front of the Lancia Flaminia GTs models that were also produced by Touring. The rear fins with vertical lights are rather similar to the rear of the Alpine Spider and even the rich instrumentation and the steering wheel with its horn ring came from the Alpine, as does the elegant leather upholstery. The mechanics are the same as the Humber Scepter – another model by Rootes – but the Venezia is equipped with a more powerful 1592cc inline four-cylinder engine mated to a four-speed gearbox with overdrive on third and fourth gear. Producing 88bhp the Venezia has a top speed of over 100mph.

Today few remain and that initial estimate of 200 Venezias has dwindled somewhat over the years but thanks to a strong community of admirers the International Touring Superleggera Registry counts some 40 cars still with us, of which the example offered by Car & Classic is included (code identifier: S.029). The car, equipped with a Certificate of Historical Relevance, is presented at auction in excellent condition, having been well maintained for twenty years by the same owner – a passionate enthusiast and meticulous collector. In total the car has been looked after by three custodians, one of whom was the owner of a BMW workshop for many years. The mechanics have been overhauled, the bodywork was repainted in the past from white to the current shade of dark blue and the charming red leather interior is original and well preserved.

Prices of Sunbeam Venezias are pretty reasonable and this rare and little-known gem is a wonderful opportunity for real connoisseurs and its affordable price will allow this charming piece of automotive history to appeal to a wide audience. Beautifully presented, solidly constructed and complete with a level of charisma that only a legend like Touring can provide, Car & Classic estimates a sale value of 25,000 – 40,000 Euros and invites interested parties to submit their pre-auction offers using the dedicated page. (https://www.carandclassic.com/auctions/1965-sunbeam-veneziasuperleggera-ri-40-gDpXJg).

Historic photos source: Bianchi Anderloni Family Archive