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The Audrain Concours Auction / 1966 Sunbeam Tiger Series I Chassis no. B382001098LRXFE Engine no. 661106

Lot 124
1966 Sunbeam Tiger Series I
30 September 2022, 16:00 EDT
Newport, Rhode Island, International Tennis Hall of Fame

US$85,000 - US$105,000

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1966 Sunbeam Tiger Series I
Chassis no. B382001098LRXFE
Engine no. 661106

260ci OHV V8 Engine
Single 4-Barrel Carburetor
165bhp at 4,400rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Independent Suspension – Live Rear Axle
Front Disc – Rear Drum Brakes

*Offered from The Chapel House Collection
*Beautifully restored example of the charming Sunbeam Tiger
*Thrilling Anglo-American hybrid
*Documented as matching nos. per Rootes Records.
*Excellent entry in high-speed rallies and driving events such as the Copperstate 1000


THE SUNBEAM TIGER

Inspired by Carroll Shelby's success in shoehorning a Ford V8 into the AC Ace to create the Cobra, Rootes asked Shelby to perform the same Anglo-American hot-rodding with its Sunbeam Alpine sports car. Ford's 260ci (4.2-liter) unit was chosen, and even though it had 'only' 165bhp on tap, it produced nearly twice the horsepower of the contemporary Alpine's 1.6-liter four. The aptly named Sunbeam Tiger entered production in June of 1964, more than a year after Shelby's first prototypes were initially released.

The Pressed Steel Company Limited in Oxfordshire, England, supplied painted and trimmed bodies and the engines and gearboxes came directly from Ford in America. Assembly was handled at the Jensen Motors Limited plant in West Bromwich, England. Compared to the standard Alpine, the Tiger was fitted with a stronger gearbox and rear axle plus rack-and-pinion steering and was vastly superior to its Alpine progenitor in performance terms; the Tiger stormed to 60mph in less than ten seconds and peaked at 117mph.

In 1967, the Series II Tiger was introduced, with the major change being an upgrade of the 165 horsepower 260 to the 200 horsepower 289ci V8. Sadly, the Tiger was terminated shortly thereafter when Rootes was acquired by Chrysler, who was understandably opposed to selling the Ford-equipped Tiger. However short their production run, the Sunbeam Tigers were an excellent and important example of Anglo-American hot-rodding and offer blistering performance in a handsome, decidedly British package.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

A beautifully presented example of its breed, this Tiger comes to market having had extensive restoration work carried out, together with all important documentary research to confirm its authenticity.

On file is a Certificate of Vehicle Authenticity supplied by the Coventry Transport Museum in the UK, who retain the Rootes Factory records, confirming it to retain the original matching numbers engine and transmission, as well as therefore endorsing its original supply as a Tiger, rather than a later conversion.

Beyond its original delivery, the car is believed to have resided in New Jersey from 1976 as it retains a set of Tiger Club magazines and workshop manual dating back to that time onwards until 2016, when it was acquired by the current owner. On purchasing the car from Historic Performance in Wallingford, CT, a typical 'do a few improvements/things' turned into a labor of love restoration over the course of the next three years! This work included repainting the bodywork in its original scheme of Cardinal Red (Code 39), rebuilding the engine and transmission from the ground up, replacing the dashboard and restoring its instruments as well as rewiring the car and fitting with a new convertible top and inner door panels. All of the chrome was also restored. On completion of the rebuild, the car was shown locally at the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance in 2019. Today, as one would expect, the Tiger not only shows well, but goes well too. Accompanying it are many invoices for the work done, a photobook charting the restoration, as well as a period accessory hardtop (unrestored).

Priced at a fraction of the price of the Shelby Cobras, the Sunbeam Tiger offers excellent 'bang for your buck'. A great Roadster to take on high-speed rallies and driving events such as the Copperstate 1000, or simply cruise around the countryside on a Sunday morning.

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