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    $38m GTO: All the Drama, Surprises and Head-Scratchers from Monterey's $464m Week

    Komforting Result for Porschephiles: 1988 Porsche 959 Approaches $1.5m

    Torpedos Away: Why the $467k Gap for Two Tucker 48s?

    GT40: Even at $6.9m, Ford Can't Beat Ferrari on the Block

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    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

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  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

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  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

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Recent Blog Posts

  • A Glimpse of Pure Passion +

    The SCM Monterey Insider’s Seminar is always a good experience, but this year it was a great deal better than good — it was fascinating, inspiring, and — of course — highly instructive. This year’s theme, “Preserve or Restore? The Three Tipping Points to Making the Decision” brought out principal Read More
  • Flying High Without Leaving the Ground +

      The Motorworks Revival — known simply as the Jet Center Party — has been hosted for the past 23 years by Gordon McCall and takes place on the Wednesday preceding the Pebble Beach Concours. In the beginning, it was a low-key, invitation-only party for concours entrants and select friends Read More
  • An E-Ticket Ride at the Best Place on Earth +

      If I had to sum up my trip to Monterey for the “big car week” in two words, they would be “exhilarating” and “exhausting.” And at most times, it really was a combination of the two. It’s not like I hadn’t been before. This was actually my fourth time Read More
  • Winter’s Coming – Store Your Car or Drive It? +

    We had an unseasonably hot summer in Portland. I went so far as to buy a vintage Volvo 122S with factory air-conditioning just to beat the heat. It’s been dry as well – the desiccated skeletons of the potted plants on my deck bear mute testimony to the futility of Read More
  • Behind the Scenes With Ferrari's "Art of Form" +

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Collector Car News

  • Announcing the Barrett-Jackson Collection Showroom +

      Barrett-Jackson will officially launch the Barrett-Jackson Collection Showroom with an open house on November 14-15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The facility, located in Old Town Scottsdale, will bring the Barrett-Jackson experience to the community beyond the four auctions held across the country each year. The showroom will Read More
  • Le Mans Class-Winning Scuderia Filipinetti Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Joins Bonhams Scottsdale Auction +

    Bonhams has announced the consignment of a very special and historic competition Ferrari to its auction in Scottsdale, Arizona next January: the 1966 Ferrari 275 Gran Turismo Berlinetta Competizione Scaglietti – class winner of the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours, 1969 Spa-Francorchamps 1000 Km and 1969 Imola 500 Km under Scuderia Read More
  • Keith Martin Onstage at the Hilton Head Island Concours +

    The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing automotive and motorsports enthusiast event weeks, is ready to host a record number of special guests at the upcoming event. One of North America’s most respected collector car authorities will be on hand to steer Read More
  • Corrected Date for Leake Dallas: November 21-23 +

    Leake's recent advertisements showed incorrect dates for their Dallas auction. The correct dates are November 21-23. View all the consignments here, including a 1934 Bugatti Type 51. Read More
  • Countdown to Bonhams' London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Sale +

    Bonhams' October 31 sale in London takes place in conjunction with the world's longest-running motoring event: the London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run. To qualify, cars must be built before 1904. SCMers Monte Shelton and Bob Ames are attending and will provide a first-hand account of the event. This year a 1902/03 Panhard Read More
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8268436-7-3Web

Inspired by Carroll Shelby’s success in shoehorning a Ford V8 into the AC Ace to create the Cobra, British carmaker Rootes asked Shelby to perform the same trick with its Sunbeam Alpine sports car. Ford’s 260-ci V8 engine was chosen, and even though this had “only”160 horsepower on tap, its power was nearly double the output of the contemporary Alpine’s 1.6-liter engine.

Assembled by Jensen Motors and introduced in 1964, the Tiger featured a stronger gearbox and rear axle—plus rack-and-pinion steering. Vastly superior to its Alpine progenitor in performance terms, the Tiger stormed to 60 mph in under ten seconds and peaked at 117 mph. Sadly, the model was killed off by Rootes’ new owner—Chrysler—shortly after the Tiger II was introduced in 1967.

This example was delivered new on July 17, 1965, from A. S. Baird Ltd to a Mr. J. Dowling of Belfast, Northern Ireland (the original purchase invoice is on file). Also included in the file is an old-style logbook and a photocopy of the Swansea V5C registration document showing three previous owners, the last being a Ms. J Cochrane. Other documentation includes six old tax discs and three MoTs from Northern Ireland, the most recent of which was issued at 21,471 miles and expired on February 6, 2010.

In the history file also are assorted press cuttings about the car in Northern Ireland; a factory-produced leaflet called The Tale of the Tiger; an AA road test report on the Sunbeam Tiger; an original owner’s service book; and a manufacturer’s warranty book issued by the Rootes Group. Representing a rare opportunity to acquire one of these charismatic Anglo-American sports cars, 2290OZ comes with Swansea V5 document, MoT to June 2, 2010 (issued at 22,315 miles), and factory hard top.

{analysis}{auto}2948{/auto}This car, Lot 322, sold for $44,146, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ RAF Museum sale in Hendon, North London, U.K., on Monday, April 11, 2011.

In the land that begat them both, the Tiger has always been considered the “poor man’s Cobra,” but while even the smaller-engined Cobras soar over the $450k mark, the best Tigers linger at only a tenth of that, which is still well under the price of the cheapest Cobra Mk IV continuation cars Autokraft built in the late 1980s.

Why? They’re not so fashionable, they’re not so light, they have a reputation for overheating—and they can be confused for the lesser Alpine, if that sort of thing bothers you (frankly, I would be far more irritated by the “nice replica” comments if I owned a real Cobra).

Tiger numbers are limited, of course, because of that Ford V8 that it shares with the Shelby Cobra. Actually, Carroll Shelby performed the first Alpine-Tiger conversion—the second was by Ken Miles, just to makes sure it could be easily replicated.

Chrysler, which bought the Rootes Group—including Hillman and Sunbeam—in 1967, couldn’t countenance using a rival’s engine, so the Sunbeam Tiger ceased after just over 7,000 were made, including a total of 536 cars fitted with Ford 289-ci V8 engines.

Re-engineering using Chrysler’s own V8s would not have been possible, as the small-block’s rear distributor would have interfered with the bulkhead, and the big-block just wouldn’t fit. In any case, dealing with quirky little foreign sports cars built in tiny numbers by an even smaller outside contractor would have been under the radar of a huge corporation such as Chrysler. So the Sunbeam Tiger was deep-sixed.

A well-fettled cat

Our subject Tiger was an Irish car from new until it was acquired in recent years by a Middle Eastern collector, who was using this sale to thin out his brood.

The Tiger looked restored but not overdone, with a nice, straight, rot-free body with slightly micro-blistered paint, correct but not concours-shiny engine bay and an original-looking interior that may or may not be factory. It also came with a Works hard top, which was not shown in the catalog but fitted for the sale, and Minilite-type wheels.

At this range—at Hendon, all the cars are locked shut because the RAF Museum remains “live” to visitors—there’s no way of telling whether it had the original 260-ci engine or a 289—or even a 302—as so many now have. But the quoted F-code engine number says it’s a 260, and given that the motor is one of the longest-lived parts of a Tiger—despite overheating problems—that’s entirely believable.

This car shouldn’t have any mechanical worries because it’s been through the hands of noted Northern Ireland Tiger fettler and racer Jackie Cochrane, who knows the type intimately—although he didn’t restore this car.

“I bought it four or five years ago, and it had been a one-owner car,” Cochrane said. “But we didn’t touch it. The engine bay didn’t look like a 30,000-mile car, more like a 100,000-mile car—grubby, with frayed hoses—so someone’s tidied it up since. I bought another Tiger, so I sold it on through Mike Abbas of Lancashire, who found me a buyer, and I let it go for what I paid for it.”

So, despite no hands-on input from “Mr. Tiger” of Northern Ireland, this was still a tidy car, and there was plenty of interest—with at least four bidders after it while it was still under the $30k mark (where it would have been an absolute steal, but it was never going to sell that low). As auctioneer Jamie Knight said: “Perfect for anyone who didn’t get an Allard or a Dart,” (the previous lots) but this was so much more desirable than either of those cars.

Tiger values have been quietly strengthening—how could they not, in the wake of the Cobra inflation, where even “continuation” Mk VI lightweight Cobras are now well over $150,000—helped by their eligibility for pre-1966 (FIA Appendix K) European motorsport. This sale represents a strong—but fair—price for a decent, usable car, and it accurately gauges where the market currently stands for these still-underpriced Anglo-American hybrids.{/analysis}

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