1965 Sunbeam Tiger Mk1 Roadster (RHD)
Result: PASSED IN
Thanks to the success of the brutal AC Cobra, the Anglo-American sports car was already a well-established concept by the time the Rootes Group made the decision to build a V8-powered derivative of its pretty Tiger sports car. Indeed, the Cobra's creator, legendary Texan Carroll Shelby, was heavily involved in developing the initial prototype for Sunbeam, shoehorning Ford's small-block V8 under the bonnet with dramatic results. The first Tigers used the 260-ci V8 combined with a four-speed Top Loader transmission, the Tiger's chassis suitably beefed-up to cope with the additional power. The bodyshells were stiffened, rack and pinion steering adopted, and the suspension revised, while Jensen of West Bromwich - already building its own Anglo-American GT cars - was subcontracted to build the Tiger to avoid disrupting production of the Tiger. First offered for sale in 1964, the Tiger's performance was on an entirely different level to the relatively pedestrian Tiger, and indeed that of most contemporary British sports cars. With a top speed of around 200 km/h, the 0-100 km/h dash took a fraction over nine seconds. The car certainly received a warm reception from the motoring press and public alike. In 1967 a revised Mark II model was introduced with the larger 289-c V8, but the model was hastily dropped in 1968 when Chrysler took a controlling interest in Sunbeam and quickly put an end to production. The Tiger enjoyed a successful competition career, both in rallying and on circuits across Europe and America, with Brian Lister developing the unique Le Mans fastback coupes for an all-out attack on the French endurance classic. In all there were just 6495 Mark I and a further 571 Mark II Tigers produced, and surviving examples today enjoy a cult following in America, Britain and Australia. More than just an affordable Cobra alternative, the Tiger has a unique character, combining effortless performance with plenty of creature comforts and a surprisingly roomy cabin.