For Sale: 1965 Sunbeam Tiger in Saint Louis, Missouri

Vehicle Description

Conceived by Ian Garrad, the U.S. West Coast sales manager for Britain's Rootes Motors, Inc., the Sunbeam Alpine-based Tiger grabbed a slice of the robust market for American V-8 powered sports cars during the 1960s. Dropping a powerful American V-8 engine into a small European sports car designed for 4-cylinder power was no easy task, but as Sidney Allard and Carroll Shelby had already proven, the concept was viable and represented the fastest path to winning performance. Rightly, Garrad believed Rootes' Sunbeam Alpine roadster was a strong candidate for conversion to V-8 power as a sales and image booster. The Alpine was certainly attractive and had already won the Index of Thermal Efficiency at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1961, and also enjoyed success in American SCCA production-class competition. Once Garrad obtained approval from Lord Rootes' son Brian, a Ford 260-powered prototype was commissioned through engineer/racer Ken Miles, who soon after joined Shelby American. Shelby also built a V-8 Alpine conversion, with the car tested by Garrad and then shipped to England for evaluation in the summer of 1963. Company management, including Lord Rootes, enthusiastically approved the project, codenamed 'Thunderbolt,' with British coachbuilder Jensen selected to produce it. First available in 1964 for sale in the United States, the new car was appropriately named 'Tiger' in honor of Rootes' own 1925 Land Speed Record car. Availability for the British Home Market in right-hand drive form came in 1965. A ferocious performer worthy of its nameplate, the Tiger nearly won the SCCA B/Production National Championship in 1966, and it was a fierce drag racer, taking the 1965 AHRA National Championship in its class. In addition to high-profile racing victories, Tiger sales were enhanced by high-profile movie and TV use, including Mel Brooks' popular Cold War spy comedy series Get Smart, with a Mk I Tiger driven to Control headquarters in the opening sequences by Secret Agent 86, portrayed by Don Adams. Just 7,067 Tigers were built through 1968 along two distinct series, the Mark I with 6,495 (Mk I and Mk Ia) produced, and the updated, 289-powered Mark II, numbering just 572. Only Chrysler's 1967 takeover of Rootes brought the eventual end to the potent Ford-powered Tiger. Today, these handsome and fast sports cars enjoy exceptional loyalty among enthusiasts and collectors who appreciate the Tiger's role in Ford Motor Company's legendary "Total Performance" corporate racing program of the 1960s. The Tiger also benefits from the Sunbeam Tiger Owner's Association (STOA), which maintains a wealth of data on the Tiger and the examples that survive today. A highly attractive example throughout, this rare early-production, 260 V-8 powered Sunbeam Tiger benefits from prior long-term ownership and care. The product of an outstanding and highly authentic restoration performed by a marque specialist, this Mark I 260 cubic-inch example is the 54th Tiger built. It is also exceptionally collectible as one of the first 100 "transitional" cars that include many distinctive features that set it apart from the subsequent, more standardized production models that followed. Engaging livery includes Dark Blue paint with a correct Light Blue vinyl interior treatment. Desirable features include a factory hard top, original cream-colored steel wheels, and more. Details of the transitional model included a metal painted dash instead of a wood fascia, a slightly different speedometer, light blue upholstery, fixed quarter lights instead of vent windows, and more. With its correct details intact, it is also beautifully finished to a high standard, with gorgeous paintwork and finishing. The restoration work included fitting a new wiring loom, complete overhaul of the brakes and chassis, and a sensibly updated alternator. The Tiger's 260 hearty cubic-inch Ford V-8 powerplant was completely rebuilt by PHP Race Engines during the restoration, and bored slightly over to approximately 273 cubic inches. The compact V8 is dressed in period-correct components including a proper hammer tone silver-finished air cleaner, alloy Tiger rocker covers, Tiger-specification intake manifold, and high-volume oil pan. The engine is also backed by a T-10 four-speed manual transmission - another unique feature of the early Tigers. Lovingly restored to a high standard with an emphasis on driving performance and reliability, this marvelous, early-production Sunbeam Tiger is ready to enjoy to the fullest, whether on your favorite stretch of open road or on a pristinely groomed show field. Offers welcome and trades considered For additional details please view this listing directly on our website

Vehicle Details

  • 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
  • Listing ID: CC-1700333
  • Price: $86,500
  • Location:Saint Louis, Missouri
  • Year:1965
  • Make:Sunbeam
  • Model:Tiger
  • Odometer:0
  • Stock Number:7439
Listed By:
Hyman Ltd. Classic Cars
2310 Chaffee Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63146

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