Skip to main content

Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam Tiger 1960s British classic sports car

The Sunbeam Tiger was an Anglo-American hybrid. Built in West Bromwich, England, its roots were in Detroit, Michigan. Almost literally - Rootes being the parent company. Until Chrysler took Rootes over, that is. The Sunbeam Tiger was a Sunbeam Alpine - fitted with a Ford V8. Carroll Shelby - he of AC Cobra fame - did early development work on the Tiger. It was then passed to Rootes. The new 4.2-litre engine was hooked up to a 'top loader' 4-speed gearbox. In turn, a more substantial final drive was installed. The body shell, too, was beefed up. But Rootes were becoming over-stretched. They still had the Sunbeam Alpine in production, after all. Riding to Rootes' rescue came Jensen. Their premises were but a stone's throw away from the Rootes factory gates. It fell to them to complete the Tiger project.

The Sunbeam Tiger's power output was 164bhp. Top speed stood at 117mph. 0-60 came up in 9.5s. Torque from the Ford V8 was plentiful, to say the least. Extra care was required in transferring it to the tarmac - since steering and suspension were suspect. Ultimately, though, the Tiger was good value for money. Americans bought it in their droves. British buyers had to wait a year to do the same.

Everything looked good for the Sunbeam Tiger. Until Chrysler's buy-out of Rootes, that is. The Chrysler top brass took an immediate dislike to the Tiger's V8 motor - mainly, because it was made by Ford! Which would have been okay, had there been a Chrysler V8 to replace it. Actually, there was - but it did not fit! Which was the writing on the wall for the Tiger. Thankfully, Rootes had already built 571 MkII Tigers - complete with a 4.7-litre Mustang motor. One of the highest compliments that can be paid to the Sunbeam Tiger is that it is spoken of in the same breath as Carroll Shelby's AC Cobra. Cars that bear that kind of comparison are thin on the ground, indeed!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…

Chrysler Airflow

The Chrysler Airflow was where Art met Science! The lines of its bodywork were drawn from aerodynamics - at a time when that discipline was a mere glint in a boffin's eye! Certainly, it was far from being routinely used in automotive design. Indeed, the Airflow was the first production car to feature the fledgling craft. A 'wind tunnel' was duly developed. Even today, such systems are considered arcane ... but, in the early '30s, they were tantamount to a black art! The engineering wizards overseeing the project were Carl Breer, Fred Zeder, and Owen Skelton. Breer was the catalyst ... he had been first to be smitten by the science of aerodynamics. Zeder and Skelton soon followed suit. And it did no harm at all when Orville Wright - father of aviation - was brought on board! More than 50 test cars were built. By means, then, of painstaking refinements, the Chrysler Airflow gradually took shape.But the Airflow was not just about aerodynamics. 'Weight lo…

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…