The History of the Sunbeam Tiger

Carroll Shelby. Winning driver of Le Mans, builder of Cobras, team leader of World Championship winning Shelby American. The legacy left by the wonder-crew at Shelby American is nothing short of miraculous.

Unfortunately, to obtain a true piece of this Shelby magic doesn't come cheaply. Cobras are all priced beyond the affordability of most aficionados, and GT 350 and GT 500 Mustang prices are the equivalent or beyond, of most yearly salaries. Don't despair, because Carroll has another goodie, made in the '60s, of British birth with a blue oval V8 which is still affordable, and an absolute blast to drive.

Sunbeam Tiger. Named for the world land speed record holder of 1926, the Sunbeam Tiger was the cheapest way to have a Shelby engineered, small block Ford powered two seat British convertible in the '60s. Fortunately, this opportunity still exists today. Built by the Rootes Group, the Sunbeam Tiger was a leading sportscar value in the '60s. Just as the Cobra was born from the lesser AC Ace, so was the Tiger born from the lesser Sunbeam Alpine.

Introduced in 1959, the Sunbeam Alpine was an attractive two seat convertible, with a standard soft top, roll up windows and an optional hardtop. Alpines were equipped with 1494cc four cylinder engines, 4 speed trannys with optional electric overdrive, disc/drum brakes and recirculating ball steering. Though perceived as a comfortable road car, with good brakes and adequate acceleration, Alpines were also raced with great success. In 1961 an Alpine, with a Harrington fastback body modification won the Thermal Efficiency Index at Le Mans.

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The History of the Sunbeam Tiger from Cobras Magazine, Summer 1995
by Von Levandowski

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