Sunbeam Tiger

There was nothing new about popping an American V8 into a pert English chassis. After all, that is exactly what Carroll Shelby did with the AC Ace to create the awesome Cobra. When Rootes in Britain decided to do the same with their Sunbeam Alpine, they also commissioned Shelby to produce a prototype; and although Rootes already had close links with Chrysler, the American once again opted for a Ford V8.

To cope with the 4.2-liter V8, the Alpine’s chassis and suspension were beefed up to create the fearsome Tiger late in 1964. In 1967, the Tiger II arrived with an even bigger 4.7-liter Ford V8, but this was a brief swansong as Chrysler took control of Rootes and was not going to sanction a car powered by rivals Ford. Once dubbed ‘‘the poor man’s Cobra,’’ these days Tiger prices are only for the rich.

ENGINE

sunbeam-tiger-engine

The first Tigers used 4.2-liter Ford V8 engines, replaced later—as shown here —by a 4727cc version, the famous 289, but not in the same state of tune as those used in the Shelby Cobras.

DISTINGUISHING FEATURES

sunbeam-tiger-side

The MkII Tiger had an eggcrate grille to distinguish it from the Alpine. Earlier cars were less easy to tell apart: a chrome strip along the side of the Tiger was the giveaway, together with discreet badging on the body.

RACE HOOD

sunbeam-tiger-front

Race and rally Tigers had improved air-flow with a slightly raised hood.

HOT HOUSE

Tigers often suffered from overheating.

ADAPTING THE ALPINE

The Alpine’s chassis and suspension had to be beefed up to cope with the weight and power of the V8. Resulting modifications included a heavy-duty back axle, sturdier suspension, and chassis stiffening.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S


MODEL Studebaker Avanti (1963)

PRODUCTION 3,834 (1963)

BODY STYLE Two-door, four-seater coupe.

CONSTRUCTION Fiberglass body, steel chassis.

ENGINES 289cid, 304cid V8s.

POWER OUTPUT 240–575 bhp (304cid R5 V8 fuel-injected).

TRANSMISSION Three-speed manual, optional Power-Shift automatic.

SUSPENSION Front: upper and lower A-arms, coil springs; Rear: leaf springs.

BRAKES Front discs, rear drums.

MAXIMUM SPEED 120 mph (193 km/h)

0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 7.5 sec

A.F.C. 17 mpg (6 km/l)

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