Inspired by Carroll Shelby’s successful Ford V8 transplant into the AC Ace to create the Cobra, Rootes approached Shelby to work his Anglo-American hot-rodding magic on their Sunbeam Alpine sports car. They opted for Ford’s 260ci (4.2-liter) engine, which, despite its ‘mere’ 165bhp output, boasted nearly double the power of the Alpine’s 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Named the Sunbeam Tiger, production began in June 1964, following Shelby’s initial prototypes by over a year.
The bodies came from the Pressed Steel Company in England, and the engines and gearboxes were supplied by Ford in America, with assembly taking place at Jensen Motors Limited in West Bromwich. The Tiger outperformed its Alpine predecessor, featuring a sturdier gearbox, rear axle, and rack-and-pinion steering. It could accelerate to 60mph in under ten seconds and reach a top speed of 117mph.
In 1967, the Series II Tiger was introduced, upgrading the 165-horsepower 260ci engine to a 200-horsepower 289ci V8. Sadly, the Tiger’s production was cut short when Chrysler acquired Rootes and discontinued the Ford-equipped Tiger. Despite their brief production run, Sunbeam Tigers remain a significant example of Anglo-American hot-rodding, offering exceptional performance in a stylishly British package.