Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Tiger was a muscle car version of the Sunbeam Alpine roadster. Rootes North America marketing director Ian Garrad realized that the Alpine's image was that of a 'touring' car rather than a sports car, and he set about changing its image, using the recent success of the Shelby Cobra as a guide. He and California sportscar racer Doane Spencer measured up several V-8 engines and determined that Ford's new 164 hp 260 in³ Windsor V8 engine would fit nicely between the frame rails. Sunbeam asked Shelby to produce one functional prototype on a budget of $10,000, and for good measure, a second Series-2 Alpine was handed to Ken Miles . Ken Miles was an ex-Shelby employee, a talented racer and fabricator, and he managed to install a 260 cu.in. V8 and two-speed automatic into the Alpine in less than a week, at a total cost of $600. Shelby's prototype was fabricated by Shelby employee George Boskoff, and the result was judged to be good enough to send to England for production evaluation. Ken Miles' prototype was kept by the Rootes for some time and eventually sold to a private buyer.
After doing extensive engineering studies and building up a number of evaluation cars, Sunbeam farmed production out to Jensen, located nearby. Production of the Tiger reached 7,085 cars over three distinct series (the factory only ever designated two, the Mk1 and Mk2; however, since the official Mk1 production spanned the changeover in body style from the MkIV Alpine panels to the MkV panels, the later cars are generally designated Mk1A by current Sunbeam enthusiasts). MkII production totalled just 536 cars, and these Tigers, with the 200 hp 289 in³ engine, are rare today. Amazingly, both the Miles and the Shelby prototypes survive today, along with a number of other historically significant Tigers.
The Tiger enjoys significant popularity today as a classic sportscar, with significant potential as a competition car either in 'historic' racing series or full-on GT sedan racing. There are a number of online resources dedicated to the Tiger enthusiast.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details