The Sunbeam Tiger

A British V8 classic high-performance roadster designed in part by Carroll Shelby.
Currently in stock at Woldside Classic and Sports Car in Louth is a rare example of a British sports car which is also something of a celebrity. The Sunbeam Tiger was the brainchild of two men, Ian Garrad (the son of the British Rootes Group Competition manager) and American Carroll Shelby, of AC Cobra and Ford Mustang fame. In 1962 racing driver Jack Brabham had been racing the Sunbeam Alpine, a beautiful styled drop head coupe and suggested fitting the Alpine with a Ford V8 engine, so Shelby was called on to help with the design of the car and the Sunbeam Tiger was born.

Shelby hoped to produce the Tiger in America but instead the Rootes Group decided to produce the car in the Jensen factory in the Midlands and pay Shelby a royalty on all cars manufactured. Produced from 1964 to 1967, the Mk 1 cars were fitted with 4.2ltr (260 cu in) V8 producing 160bhp transmitting the power to the road via a four speed manual gearbox and a Jaguar back axle. Performance was impressive with a 0-60 time of 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 120mph. The steering was rack and pinion and brakes were servo assisted discs to the front and drums to the rear. 3,763 home market Tiger 260s with the chassis designation HRO FE are believed to have been made until 1967 when the Mk 2 was introduced with a larger 4.7ltr (289 cu in) V8 producing 200bhp. Only 536 of these big engined Tigers were made before production ceased with most going to America.

Woldside Classic’s car, a 1966 home market RHD Mk 1 example is finished in its original livery of Arctic White with red vinyl trim. It has just reluctantly come out of long-term enthusiast ownership due to a classic car change in direction to accommodate his family members and love of motorsport.

The car and its previous keeper are both very well known within the Sunbeam Tiger Owners Club and the car is quite the celebrity! It has been invited to Goodwood on numerous occasions, has starred in a pop video with Girls Aloud, has been featured on Channel 5 TV show The Cars That Made Britain Great, has been displayed recently at the London Classic Car Show and featured in The TIGER50 Book, celebrating half a century of the Tiger.

Back to the car, it presents beautifully following a two-year restoration completed five years ago by leading Tiger specialists Sunbeam Spares Company. The photographic evidence within the car’s file shows the car having extensive fabrication mainly to the inner and outer sills, wheel arches and front valance. A top quality respray with perfect finish and panel gaps still looks as good today as when it was completed. The red vinyl interior was left alone as it was so original and in too good a condition to interfere with, showing a lovely patina that cannot be replicated.

Sitting on period Dunlop alloy wheels the car is striking from any angle. The optional hardtop is also in perfect condition both inside and out and the black soft top, recently recovered, is quite simple but easy to use. The chrome work, badges and bright work all are in good condition and fit well.

Mechanically the car is a credit to its previous owner’s care and attention. Within the huge history file there is evidence of an unleaded cylinder head conversion, electronic ignition, an alternator being fitted and whilst the car was being restored, the gearbox and back axle were overhauled, with a new heavy duty racing clutch fitted and the wiring loom replaced.

The car has been used regularly rather than just used for show. It starts well both hot and cold, with good oil pressure and sounds just great. It steers dead straight ahead with no vibration or wander and the brakes pull up straight with no judder, obviously there are no transmission noises.

Within the car are the original type radio and centre console and the original tools in the tool roll. There is also a tonneau cover and a car cover. The history file is impressive with invoices spanning many decades and MOT certificates going back to 1983. There is also an issue of Classic Cars magazine featuring the car from 2014, letter invites from Goodwood with accompanying photographs, the restoration photo file, an original workshop manual and much, much more.

According to the website, in the second quarter of 2017, only 259 Sunbeam Tigers are licensed or SORNed in the UK, making this car incredibly rare as well as incredibly desirable.

Please take time to visit Woldside Classic and Sports Car’s website at to view numerous detailed photos of this beautiful car. Visit the website to also enjoy the video of the car on the road. Woldside Classics welcome any inspection of this very special car and interested parties are advised to enquire without delay. They offer a covered delivery service and would consider part-exchange.

For further details call 01507 606725, email or visit their showroom on Tattershall Way, Fairfield Industrial Estate, Louth, LN11 8PG.

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