A single-owner, final-series Mk II/289 V-8 example of the potent Sunbeam Tiger, a svelte and incredibly enjoyable 1960s performer. Highly original, painstakingly mechanically serviced 2007/2008, then displayed at Boulder, Colorado Shelby American Collection. Documents include the original Bill of Sale, original CO title, and Certificate of Authenticity from the Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association.
Specifications: 289 cu. in. Ford V-8 engine, 200 bhp at 4,400 rpm, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and Panhard rod, and front disc/rear drum hydraulic brakes; wheelbase: 86"
Conceived by Ian Garrad, the U.S. West Coast manager for Britain's Rootes Motors, Inc., the Sunbeam Tiger grabbed a share of the growing market for American V-8 powered sports cars during the 1960s. Dropping a powerful American V-8 engine into a small European sports car was no small task, but as Sidney Allard and Carroll Shelby had already proven, the concept was viable and represented the quickest path to race-winning performance.
Rightly, Garrad believed that Rootes' Sunbeam Alpine roadster was a strong candidate for conversion to V-8 power as a sales booster. The Alpine was certainly attractive and had already won the Index of Thermal Efficiency at Le Mans in 1961 and achieved success in American SCCA competition. Once Garrad obtained approval from Lord Rootes' son Brian, a Ford 260-powered prototype was built by 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, code-named 'Thunderbolt' and selected Jensen to build it in West Bromwich.
First available in 1964 for sale in the United States, the new car was appropriately named 'Tiger' in honor of Rootes' own 1925/26 V-12 Land Speed Record car and made available the next year for the home market in right-hand drive form. A strong performer, 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. Only some 7,000 Tigers were built through 1968 along two distinct series, the Mk I with an estimated 6,500 (Mk I and Mk IA) produced, and the updated, 289-powered Mk II numbering an estimated 500 or so aimed primarily at the U.S. market. Only Chrysler's 1967 takeover of Rootes brought the eventual end to this potent and effective Ford-powered sports car.
According to details provided by Norm Miller, the President of the Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association (STOA) and Bill Martin of the Rootes Group Depot, this Mark II Tiger is one of the final 536 289 V-8 Sunbeams produced. It is listed in the Jensen Motors Ltd. records of production as the 116th Tiger II commissioned and reported completed on Thursday, January 19, 1967. On that particular day, Jensen tallied 10 Tigers exiting the assembly line, two of which were end-of-model-year 1966 MK IAs. At last count, 385 of the rare Mk II machines have been identified still in existence. Of them, this example joins 134 sisters originally finished in the very popular Rootes Color Code 86 "Forest Green" paint finish - Sunbeam's version of British Racing Green. Just 79 are known to retain their original livery. This Tiger was built using the 137th Pressed Steel Mk II body produced and has been granted STOA's Certificate of Authenticity #1043. The matching numbers drivetrain includes an engine from the last group shipped to Jensen by Ford under the Sunbeam Tiger contract. Other included treasures include a complete luggage compartment full of sought-after, but often discarded items including an original Dunlop RS5 whitewall spare flanked by a full-to-the-flaps vinyl tool roll. The roadside emergency jack and lug wrench are also in pride of place, as is only fitting. This car is difficult not to hear the word "AMAZING" from the rafters.
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