The Sunbeam Tiger is a British classic sports car made by Rootes Group, England. In 1964 Carroll Shelby was hired to remove the 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine and replace it with a small block Ford V8, similar to the transformation of the AC Cobra. Unfortunately in 1967, Chrysler purchased the Rootes Group and they were not pleased that their most popular sports car, the 'Sunbeam Tiger' was powered by Ford engines. Production ended in 1967 with a total production of less than 7,000. The MKI Sunbeam Tiger, which this is one of, was first built in 1964 and delivery began in 1965.
This Tiger was originally delivered to Cincinnati. The first owner successfully rallied this car in the local sports car activities. This car was purchased from the original owners in 2004.
Sunbeam is of British manufacture and became part of Rootes Group in 1935. The Alpine name was introduced in 1953. The coachwork was re-designed in 1959 with the introduction of the all new Series I and the Alpine would see five Series before produ [Read More...]
Sport Roadster Chassis Num: B9470233 Engine Num: 1269-C13KA
Sold for $44,000 at 2010 Gooding & Company. The Sunbeam Tiger was not a new idea; it was a concept that had been well practiced for many years. The Tiger was powered by a high-horsepower American powerplant in a British body. Jack Brabham, who had campaigned Sunbeam Alpine cars with much succe [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2010
The Sunbeam Alpine was an attractive but anemic British roadster produced by the Rootes Group. Needing a quick performance boost, they looked for an American V8 to stuff in the engine bay. Being already affiliated with Chrysler, the first choice was [Read More...]
The Rootes Group, which owned the Hillman, Humber, Singer and Sunbeam, and Commer (truck) brands, built 7,085 Tigers between 1964 and 1967 in the Jensen Motors' West Bromwich, UK assembly plant. Simply put, the Tiger is a Series IV, then Series V, Su [Read More...]
Rootes Motors produced just over 7000 Tigers in nearly five years, and when sold to Chrysler, the model was quickly axed as much for poor sales as the fact it sourced its motor from Ford and had no suitable replacement. Chrysler's own small-block V8 [Read More...]
Sold for $187,000 at 2015 RM Sothebys. Thomas Harrington Ltd was a British coachbuilder that built a small number of fastback Le Mans Coupe bodies for Sunbeam Alpine chassis during the early 1960s. One of those bodies was built for the Sunbeam Tiger. The Tiger was fitted with a Ford V-8 e [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2015
Sold for $187,000 at 2015 RM Sothebys. The Sunbeam Tiger was the brainchild of Carroll Shelby and Ian Garrad, Rootes West Coast Manager who saw an opportunity for an ultra-high performance sports car in the Sunbeam line to supplement the Alpine. Shelby's organization fitted the Ford 260 V [Read More...]
The Tiger was produced from June 1964 to June 1967. This is the 33rd car produced out of production run of 7,067 units. The owner purchased this car in February 2000. The restoration took three years to complete. [Read More...]
This Sunbeam Tiger has been restored to European Specification production race car standards with full F.I.A. Certification. This Sunbeam Tiger is unusual because of its racing evolution. It started life in California as an autocross car. Purchase [Read More...]
This 1965 Tiger has had a complete and thorough restoration. It is finished in Artic white over red upholstered interior. It has a Moto-Lita, wood steering wheel, factory burlwood dash and bullet style side mirrors. It rides on a set of Mini-Lite sty [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2016
High bid of $72,000 at 2016 Mecum. (did not sell) This Sunbeam Tiger is finished in a bright blue paint scheme with a silver racing stripe. It has been given a recent restoration and kept in a climate controlled facility. The interior is done in black vinyl and trimmed with blue welting that matches [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2016
Lord William Rootes of Ramsbury created the British based Sunbeam/Rootes Coventry Company after extensive experience gained from the Singer Company. He had been actively involved in automobile racing and development for a number of years. In 1926 a Sunbeam powered by a 12-cylinder engine and driven by Sir Henry Seagrave had set the land speed record at 152.3 mph.
The Sunbeam Tiger is probably most famous for its staring roll in the TV series 'Get Smart', created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry. The main character, Maxwell Smart, drove the vehicle to Control each week where he was given his assignment. Agent 86, er Maxwell Smart, received attention where ever he went, thanks in part to the stylish vehicle that accompanied him.
The Sunbeam Tiger continued the long tradition of putting a large American engine in a small European car. Others, such as the Nash-Healey and Facel Vega had done this before. The most celebrated success of this unique combination would have to be the Shelby Cobra where, under the direction of Carroll Shelby, a Ford V8 was planted in a AC Ace.
In 1959 the two-seater Sunbeam Alpine was introduced by the Rootes Group. Under the hood was a 1494 cc four-cylinder engine mated to a transmission featuring overdrive. The small engine was barely enough to compliment the stylish and sporty body. Ian Garrad, an individual involved in the US Sunbeam/Rootes Group, realized that the power of the AC Ace could be transplanted into the Sunbeam Alpine. Most of the engines he tried to install were too larger for the Alpines engine bay. He struggled to find an appropriate engine that was also backed by manufacturer support. He found it in the Ford Falcon 260 cubic-inch 8-cylinder engine.
Garrad approached the road racing legend Ken Miles and infamous Caroll Shelby for help with this project. Both agreed and began work separately in their own shops. Shortly there-after in May of 1963, the two prototypes were ready.
The prototype developed by Ken Miles retained the recirculation-ball steering and many of the Alpine's mechanical components. Shelby's approach was different, moving the engine father back in the engine back to capitalize on better weight distribution. The firewall and transmission tunnel were modified to accommodate the large engine. A rack-and-pinion steering unit replace the recirculation-ball unit and the prior transmission was removed in favor of a four-speed manual gearbox.
After vigorous testing and multiple road-trips the vehicle was sent to Lord Rootes for his approval. After further testing the project was code-named 'Thunderbolt' and further testing and development was performed on the vehicle. The chassis and suspension was straightened to compensate for the large V8 engine. This strengthening added to the overall weight of the vehicle, but with a total curb weight of just 2560 pounds, the horsepower-to-weight ratio was still phenomenal. With 164 horsepower under the hood, the vehicle was able to go from zero-to-sixty in just 7.8 seconds. If that was not enough, Shelby and Rootes offered aftermarket products that improved the engines performance resulting in 245 horsepower. The four-speed manual was standard but an optional automatic was available for an extra $500.
In honor of the land speed record accomplishment by Seagrave, the vehicle was named Sunbeam Tiger. It was debuted at the New York Auto Show where it was offered for less than $2300.
The vehicle was a success but troubles in Europe led Rootes to the Chrysler group for financial support. The Rootes Companies employees were striking, production was slow, and so was the cash flow. Chrysler stepped-in, acquiring over 83% of the company. The production of the Tiger continued through 1967 but Chrysler was not enthusiastic about offering a Ford-powered vehicle. The Mark II version appeared which offered a larger engine, the result of enlarging the bore and stroke resulting in a 289 cubic-inch capacity. Shortly after the Mark II introduction, the production of the Tiger ceased.
During its production lifespan 7067 examples of the Sunbeam Tiger were created. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2006