1964 Sunbeam Tiger Mark I Roadster Registration no. SRH 112B Chassis no. B9470404LRXFE Engine no. 1484 L2KA
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 trick with its Sunbeam Alpine sports car. The project was instigated by the company's West Coast, USA distributor, Rootes American Motors Inc, which was located not far from Shelby American. Ford's 260ci (4.2-litre) 'Windsor' V8 was chosen, and even though this had 'only' 164bhp on tap it was approaching double the output of the contemporary Alpine's 1.6-litre four. The transplant radically transformed the character of the car.
Code-named 'Thunderbolt', the Tiger was developed without the knowledge of Lord Rootes, who was said to be 'very grumpy' when he found out. Nevertheless, he had the good sense to get a prototype shipped to Coventry and was deeply impressed with the car when he drove it. Assembled by Jensen Motors and introduced in 1964, the Tiger kept the Alpine's basic layout but featured a stronger gearbox and rear axle plus rack-and-pinion steering. Vastly superior to its Alpine progenitor in performance terms, the Tiger stormed to 60mph in under ten seconds and peaked at around 120mph. Tigers would go on to enjoy success in both racing and rallying over the years. Sadly, the model was killed off by Rootes' new owner Chrysler shortly after the revised Tiger II was introduced in 1967. A little over 7,000 Sunbeam Tigers were eventually produced, including 571 of the now very rare 4.7-litre Mark II. The final cars rolled off the production line in 1968.
This superb example dates from the first year of production and was built in left-hand drive configuration for shipment to the USA. In 1984 it was acquired by Mr K Harvey, a senior manager at the Dupont Paint Finishing Company. He was to own it for the next 30 years, treating his straight and original example to a top-class re-spray a number of years ago. Reputed to have been fitted with a high-ratio final drive, it was upgraded with an Edelbrock inlet manifold and Holley carburettor before being repatriated to the UK late last year.
The car has since been treated to a thorough re-commissioning; a stainless exhaust, new hood, new brake master cylinder and fresh battery being added. All duties have been paid and it now carries the age-related registration 'SRH 112B'. The car is MoT'd to April 2016 and comes with a V5C registration document. The sight of the mighty Le Mans Coupé at the front of the grid at recent Goodwood events has helped raise the Tiger's profile of late, adding to the huge increase in interest and respect for the model seen over the last few years.