Autosport International Sale 2019

Back to lot listing

1966 Sunbeam Tiger Mk1A

Lot No.: 322

Registration: NOVA Issued
Chassis Number: B382002498
Engine Number: -
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 4.2
Year of Manufacture: 1966
RHD/LHD: Right Hand Drive
Estimate (£): 35,000 - 40,000
(+buyer's premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%)

 

  • US-market car (California) from new. Returned to the UK in 1989
  • Owned by marque specialists for six years and kept as their personal car
  • Converted to RHD. Fresh paint on original panels. Re-veneered dashboard
  • Owned by our vendor for the last 22 years. New Edelbrock Carburettor, Stainless Steel Exhaust, Shock absorbers
  • The car is in the UK but is currently on a NOVA so will need to be UK registered

A muscle car version of the  Alpine Roadster, the Sunbeam Tiger was conceived on the West Coast of America, inspired by the success of the AC Cobra - the result of inserting a small-block American V8 engine into the British designed AC Ace. The West Coast Sales Manager of Rootes American Motors Inc., Ian Garrad, realised that the Sunbeam Alpine's image was that of a touring car rather than a sports car and he saw the potential for performing a similar operation on the stylish but rather pedestrian Alpine, replacing its humble 1.5-litre four with a big Yankee V8. Carroll Shelby was hired to develop the prototype and Ford's 4,261cc (260ci) 'Windsor' unit was the power unit of choice. George Boskoff was the project engineer tasked with shoehorning the V8 into the Alpine's engine bay which he managed by moving the firewall back to create additional space and redesigning the rack-and-pinion steering and the exhaust system. However, the basic layout of the Alpine was retained with coil springs at the front and a live rear axle supported by semi-elliptic leaf springs. Just 20% heavier, yet twice as powerful as the Alpine, it maintained a respectable 52% front, 48% rear weight distribution so retained the excellent handling characteristics associated with its smaller engined sibling. In initial trials, the 164bhp engine endowed the car with a top speed of around 120mph and a 0-60mph acceleration time of under eight seconds, pretty impressive at the time.

Codenamed 'Thunderbolt', the whole project took place without the knowledge of Lord Rootes and when he found out he got 'very grumpy' by all accounts, although he had the good sense to get a prototype shipped to Coventry and was deeply impressed with the car when it arrived. Shelby had envisaged assembling them in America as he had done with the AC Cobras, however, Rootes opted to pay him a royalty on each unit and use West Bromwich based Jensen for manufacture as they had spare capacity having just ceased their Volvo P1800 assembly contract. A total of some 7,085 Sunbeam Tigers were eventually produced, including 536 of the now very rare 4.7-litre Mk2 versions which arrived in 1967. The final cars rolled off the lines in 1968, production being shelved when Chrysler took over the Rootes Group, their new bosses unable to sanction a car powered by their arch-rivals, Ford.

This Tiger was produced new in 1966 then marked for export to California, where it was first registered in 1967. Repatriated to the UK in 1989 it was purchased by marque specialists 'Alpine West Midlands' and the proprietors, Mr & Mrs Farmer decided, in view of its remarkably sound 'California Car' condition, to keep it as their own personal vehicle. As their business revolved around Alpines and Tigers, it was important that their personal car was a bit of a 'showroom window' so, during their ownership, it was converted to right-hand drive, treated to some cosmetic paintwork whilst retaining all of its original panels, the dashboard was re-veneered in Walnut, and the car was generally detailed to reflect their standards.

The Tiger was purchased by its existing German owner from Mr and Mrs Farmer some twenty-two years ago then driven back to its new home near Wiesbaden where it has remained in his ownership, used only on dry days, for Classic car meetings and rallies. He has now decided to repatriate his pride and joy back to the West Midlands, choosing to drive back from Germany to deliver the car to his business friend and associate who resides within a five-minute drive from where the Tiger was purchased in 1995. We understand the car has covered 79,500 miles although a new odometer has since been fitted showing only 500 miles. Currently on a NOVA, it will need to be re-registered with DVLA.

This is a lovely sound example of the Tiger which has benefitted from living in California, six years with marque enthusiasts, and twenty-two years used lightly by our vendor. Tigers are beginning to gain momentum in the market and this is one of the nicest we have seen.