Yeah, that’s him. The guy that breathed fire into the AC Ace, and a bit later, the Sunbeam Alpine; that kid on the toy car is Carroll Shelby.
No matter who you are or what you drive, Carroll Shelby is a name that will always start and stop conversations when it comes to sports cars and motor racing.
Raised as a chicken farmer in Texas, had he been as successful with poultry as cars, this story would be about faster egg-laying or something, but racing driver and car builder Carroll Shelby will always be remembered for shoehorning big American engines into little British automobiles, and the results were the electrifying 289 and 427 AC Cobras.
Given the success of the Cobras, no one was prepared to argue with Ol’ Shel’ when he again cast across the pond for another English body, this time from Sunbeam, repeating the tried and true with a motor swap that would double the horsepower and performance of a very small car.
Discarded was the stock 4 CYL 80HP motor, replaced by a 4.3 Liter Ford V-8 producing 164HP, running through a Ford gearbox. To contain it all, brakes, chassis, suspension and rubber were all reworked to transform the mild mannered Alpine into the outrageously fun Sunbeam Tiger.
Only 7000 of these little gems were produce, originally with a Ford 260 CI, later with the 289. Simple to work on, I’m told lots of owners maintain these Ford drivetrains themselves.
Tiger Ford 260
Sunbeam Tiger Dash
It’s been a few years since driving a Sunbeam Tiger, but I well remember, gobs of torque and the rumble of 8 cylinders, and although this 1966 MK1A comes with the rare factory hardtop, I imagine most are going to wait for a sunny day with the top down just for the exhaust note.
Back then, road tests sited 0-60 between 8 and 9 seconds for this car with a 260 motor, but today, sprint times seem irrelevant, replaced with the joy of owning a bit of Shelby myth.
Now very collectible and a blast to drive, the Sunbeam Tiger is welcomed at Cobra Club events, sports car rallies, and concours around the world.
At Continental Autosports, stop by for a look, and tell them Dave sent you…