The Sunbeam Tiger is an American sports car produced from 1964 until 1967. It was the high-performance equivalent of the British Sunbeam Alpine roadster, which was fitted with a more modest four-cylinder engine, but did not appeal to customers in the overseas market. The initial idea to fit a V8 came from Jack Brabham, the final design coming from the legendary racing driver and engineer Caroll Shelby. Shelby mounted the powerful Ford V8 engine into the Sunbeam, all else remaining relatively similar to the original version of the vehicle. Despite being responsible for the V8 conversion, serial production was not allocated to Shelby’s US facilities, but was kept in the UK at the Jensen factory in West Bromwich. As compensation, Shelby received a royalty per car produced. It is reported that Rootes, the company owning the Sunbeam brand, initially tried striking a deal with Ferrari, in which the Italians would review the previously used four-cylinder engine and put their name on it. After initial negotiations went in the right direction, the project was eventually dropped.
The Tiger, which even competed in the 1964 24 hours of Le Mans (none of the two entries finished the race) was available in two engine versions: the Mark I was fitted with the 4.3-litre V8 by Ford whereas the Mark II was delivered with the 4.7-litre Ford V8. Only being available during the last year of production, the Mark II is the rarer car with just 633 units built, versus a total of 6,450 series 1 examples. When the Rootes Group was bought out by Chrysler in 1967, production of the Sunbeam Tiger came to an end since the new owner of the firm did not have a suitable engine in their lineup that could replace the Ford V8.
The Sunbeam Tiger was always a rare car, and modifying them was easy and cheap. Consequently, very few remain in good and unmolested condition like the example on offer here.