Sunbeam's mighty V8 Tiger

The Sunbeam Tiger is a high-performance V8 version of the British Rootes Group's Sunbeam Alpine roadster, designed in part by American racing driver Carroll Shelby and produced from 1964 until 1967. Shelby had carried out a similar V8 conversion on the AC Cobra, and hoped to be offered the contract to produce the Tiger at his facility in America. Rootes decided instead to contract the assembly work to Jensen at West Bromwich in England, and pay Shelby a royalty on every car produced.

Two versions of the Tiger were built, the Mark I (1964–1967) which was fitted with the 4.3 litre Ford V8, and the Mark II, of which only 633 were built and fitted with the larger Ford 289 4.7 litre engine. Production ended in 1967 soon after the Rootes Group was taken over by Chrysler, which did not have a suitable engine to replace the Ford V8.

Two prototype and extensively modified versions of the Mark I competed in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, but neither completed the race. Rootes also entered the Tiger in European rallies with some success, and for two years it was the American Hot Rod Association's national record holder over a quarter-mile drag strip.

This stunningly Sunbeam Tiger was built in the early stages of the Mark I’s production. A ground-up restoration was recently performed on this rust-free car with its original panels. The restoration retained all the proper original badges such as the Rootes Group Sunbeam logo and the ‘Powered by Ford 260’ wing and boot tags. The high-quality paint job was completed while the car was taken apart. The familiar British Racing Green has been wet sanded and polished with wonderful depth and shine.

Lifting the bonnet reveals a custom four-core radiator, custom fan, a balanced and blueprinted Ford 289 engine, aluminium intake manifold, Holley 650, ceramic-coated headers, aluminium ‘Tiger Powered by Ford’ valve covers, remote oil filter, restoration front clip with rack-and-pinion steering, sub-frame and connectors, sway bar, four-wheel Wilwood brake calipers, ‘top-loader’ four-speed manual transmission and stainless steel exhaust. All this modified power provides a mean growl and is delivered to the eight-spoke Minilite style wheels.

The new black bucket seat interior includes a beautiful burled walnut dash with a full set of original gauges and factory wood rim steering wheel. All chrome has been re-plated, including the dual racing mirrors, front and rear bumpers, fuel filler cap, and the dual exhaust tips.

RM Sotheby's will be offering this 1965 Sunbeam Tiger Mk I at their upcoming Amelia Island auction held between the 8th-9th March. For more information on this and other vehicles at the sale, click on the link below. Photos: Lucas Scarfone ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's