Starting in the early 1960s and running through the early 1970s, there was a mini “arms race” in the automobile industry. In this case, the arms race concerned “who could build the fastest, coolest looking car with the most powerful engine and get it to market quickly,” and there were many types of cars in the running. Merriam-Webster defines a muscle car as “any of a group of American-made 2-door sports coupes with powerful engines designed for high-performance driving.” Last year we told you about two late ‘60s muscle cars, the 1969 Oldsmobile 442 Hurst Olds and the 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429, but we found a little-known car from the mid-1960s that is also impressive.
While looking through our most watched lists, we ran across this 1966 Other Makes Sunbeam Tiger convertible:
Yes, it is a bit of a diamond in the rough… While we admit that it is not much to look at in its current (barn find) state, we did find a picture of a similar car (1965 version), so you can get an idea of its potential once it is all cleaned up:
The Sunbeam Tiger was conceived by one of the company’s salesmen; he saw the success of other small, powerful convertibles available in the US (such as the Corvette) and wanted to explore the possibility of creating something similar with Sunbeam. The available Sunbeam Alpine roadster did not have a very powerful engine, so Sunbeam contacted legendary car designer Carrol Shelby to see if he could help.
Shelby had created the popular Shelby Cobra by inserting a powerful V-8 engine into the body of a British sports car, and the honchos at Sunbeam asked if he could work the same magic for them. Some back and forth ensued and Shelby suggested putting a Ford V-8 engine in the Sunbeam. After several modifications to the engine, the Tiger roared to life. Indeed, some people refer to the Sunbeam Tiger as the “Cobra Junior,” due to Shelby’s involvement in the project and the similarities between the cars.
There were two Sunbeam Tiger model types created over time, the Mark 1 and 2. Today’s listing does not give a lot of details about the car, other than what you can see from the (admittedly poor) photos and from the description, which notes that the original color was green and that it is a “rare car.” The seller goes on to say that car “is a great one to restore.”
If the car seems vaguely familiar, you may have seen one like it as one of the first Bond cars in the movie Dr. No. Our research (which involved looking at this video of the car chase scene from Dr. No), indicates that the car used in the movie was the less-powerful Sunbeam Alpine. We posit that the reason Bond can get away from the bad guys in that car chase is due to his driving skills, and not the power of the car.
On the other hand, fans of TV show “Get Smart” will recognize the Sunbeam Tiger from the opening scenes:
Classic car? Check. Great condition? Well, not really, but it has potential. Movie or TV appearances? Check (that a similar model was used). What are you waiting for, make an offer, but don’t offer too little… You wouldn’t want to end up thinking you “missed it by that much!”