Cat gets nine more lives! 1966 Sunbeam Tiger

The Pick of the Day is the other British two-seater with a small block V8 shoe-horned under the hood – and naturally has Shelby DNA.

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1966 Sunbeam Tiger

The Pick of the Day is a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger MK1A offered by a dealer in St. Louis, Missouri. The seller says that this example is a numbers-matching fresh restoration to both cosmetics and all mechanicals. The car also has a Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association (STOA) Certificate of Authenticity.

The Sunbeam Tiger has an interesting and nearly parallel history to the Shelby AC Cobra. The Sunbeam Alpine, produced beginning in 1959 by Rootes, was a two-seat sports car with an inline-4 engine that was terribly underpowered. A proposed partnership with Ferrari to redesign the four-cylinder fell through.

In 1962, Formula 1 World Champion Jack Brabham suggested to Rootes competition manager Norman Garrad that a Ford V8 be fitted to the little convertible.

Garrad passed along the suggestion to his son, Ian, who was West Coast sales manager for Rootes American Motors. Ian lived near Venice, California, where Carroll Shelby’s shop was located and reached out to Shelby to help design and possibly assemble the V8-powered Sunbeams. Ultimately, Shelby created the prototype for the Tiger but Rootes chose to assemble the car at Jensen in England. Shelby would receive a royalty from each Tiger sold.
According to the seller advertising the car on ClassicCars.com, the powertrain is impressive.
“Under the hood lies the original, matching number’s 260ci V8 engine mated to a Borg Warner T10 4-speed manual transmission gripping the ground through a 2.88 rear end,” the ad says.
The seller also lists a number of options: “Chrome 13″ Cragar SS wheels with BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires, a burled-walnut dash, wood LL slotted 3-spoke steering wheel, leather wrapped shift handle, Jaegar instrumentation, locking center console, Girling power front disc brakes, dual Talbot style rearview mirrors, windshield washer, soft boot cover, and auxiliary hardtop!”

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This Carnival Red over Black Tiger spent most of its early life in California before making its way to the East coast in September 2011 with only 62,000 actual miles on the odometer, the seller says. During the 1990s, the car went through an intermediate restoration that saw its original factory paint replaced with a Burgundy color.
The seller made a painstaking restoration to bring the car back to factory original, according to the ad, with the Tiger brought down to bare metal for a makeover of the original factory paint. In the listing, the seller tells a longer story than we usually tell during the Pick of the Day feature.

The description of the engine rebuild tells its own story: “The factory-issued engine was completely rebuilt. It was cleaned & magnafluxed, then meticulously overhauled at 65,000 miles with a .030 overbore and new UEM Silv-O-Lite cast aluminum pistons & new rings, machine turned crankshaft .010 & polished, reconditioned connecting rods, original camshaft mated to new lifters, cam bearings, main bearings, rod bearings, rod bolts, timing chain & gear, new oil pump, water pump, etc. were all included. The heads were clean, magnafluxed, and resurfaced .007 for a perfect mating surface to the block.”

Needless to say, much went into this particular MK1A. Certainly it needs to be special to justify the asking price of $99,900, but the seller makes a good case. The idea of having a numbers-matching 1,000-point factory-fresh Sunbeam Tiger in the garage certainly would be appealing to many in the collector car community.

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To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. I had a little Red Alpine years ago. I think I paid about $500 for it.
    It needed some work. I fixed a few things, but only keep it for a year or so.
    Fun little car.
    50 years later I’m driving a little RED 1990 Miata……So much fun to drive.
    I went thru the car from stem to stern. Runs great.
    Will still do 110 mph

    • In the go-go 80’s, I rented a house in Broad Ripple/South Kessler (a trendy then, unbelievably spendy ‘hood now). The owner reserved the garage for storage of his “thing”; he drove a Saturn yellow Porsche 914 and metallic dark brown BMW 2002tii as his dailies. I got permission to keep my motorcycle in said garage, one day couldn’t stand it and moved the boxes/lifted the cover.
      I would have called it orange, but the ’67 Sunbeam Tiger I found was exactly the color of the featured car. It had a maniacally built dual 4bbl/solid lifter/geardrive cammed real tunnelport Boss 302 motor, the obligatory 4spd, and a narrowed Ford 9inch with 4.10 gears & a locker. When I asked, landlord wasn’t happy I pried, but car guys, yes? Heard all about it, then we went wheeling and he ran away from my tweaked SOHC Honda 750F. Got to drive it, I’ve driven some things, but never anything as nose heavy squirrelly as that Tiger.
      These pics brought me right back to the ’80’s. Hope the new owner flogs it rather than hides it.

      • Balanced weight in a car is so important.
        Mazda sure knows that. The Miata is still 50-50 weight distribution

        Note: I always wanted to own a “Thing”. With the top down…Just let it rain
        (even if they do look like a Nazi jeep)

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