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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale June 5th – 7th, 2015 at Russo and Steele’s 3rd Annual Newport Beach California Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Conceived by Ian Garrad, the U.S. West Coast manager for Britain’s Rootes Motors, Inc., which manufactured Hillman, Humber, and Sunbeam automobiles, the Sunbeam Tiger grabbed a share of the growing market for American V-8 powered sports cars during the 1960s. Dropping a powerful American V-8 engine into a small European sports car was no small task, but as Sidney Allard and Carroll Shelby had already proved, the concept was viable and was certainly the quickest path to race-winning performance.
Rightly, Garrad believed that Rootes’ Sunbeam Alpine roadster was a strong candidate for a conversion to V-8 power as a sales booster. It was certainly attractive and had already won the Index of Thermal Efficiency at Le Mans in 1961 and achieved growing success in American SCCA competition. Once Garrad obtained the needed approval from Lord Rootes’ son Brian, a Ford 260-powered prototype was built by racer Ken Miles, who soon afterwards joined Shelby American, to prove the V-8 transplant would indeed work. Shelby American also built a comprehensively updated Alpine/V-8 conversion, with the car tested by Garrad and then shipped to England for evaluation in the summer of 1963. Company management was enthused, but none more so than Lord Rootes. The fortified Alpine was codenamed ‘Thunderbolt’ and readied for production, with Jensen assigned the task.
First available in 1964 for sale in the United States, the new car was appropriately named ‘Tiger’ in honor of Rootes’ own 1925 Land Speed Record car. The Tiger was made available the next year in right-hand drive form as well. As expected, the Tiger was a strong performer and nearly won the SCCA B/Production National Championship in 1966. The Tiger was also a fierce drag racer, taking the 1965 AHRA National Championship in its class. Just 7,067 Tigers were built in all through 1968, along two distinct series, the Mk I with 6,495 produced, and the Mk II numbering 572.
Carrying lots of original patina, this late-production Mk Ia Tiger was built in 1966 and subsequently sold and registered as a 1967 model. As such, it is one of the last few Mk1a Tigers built following Chrysler Corporation’s acquisition of Rootes, and its Code 108 Polar White paint code is in fact a Mk 2 color choice, with only a few late Mk 1s so finished. A highly desirable rust-free California “black plate” car, this Tiger is powered by a 260 engine with verified original numbers-matching gearbox and rear end. It also retains such original parts as the original spare, battery-vent tube, air cleaner, fan shroud, oil-filter housing, Smiths clock, wood steering wheel, and sun visor kit. As offered, the Tiger benefits from a mechanical restoration with select upgrades, including lightweight aluminum cylinder heads, torque-arm traction control, and an LAT-Super induction kit including an Edelbrock F4B intake manifold. Certified original VIN-tag rivets and a
Certificate of Authenticity (Number 1005) issued by the Sunbeam Tiger Owners’ Association accompanies this rare and fascinating Tiger at auction.