• This Month's Issue

    Level Flier: At $220k, This Fighter-Plane-Inspired '09 Spyker Lands Close to Its Original MSRP

    $575k 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I

    Viva l'Italia! In the Driver's Seat at Villa d'Este, the Mille Miglia and Modena Cento Ore

    Fast-Rising Collectible: "The Fast and the Furious" '93 Supra Stunt Car Hurtles to $200k

    Slow-Rising Collectible: Karmann Ghias Gain Ground

    Read More
  • SCM Platinum

    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.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

    Read More
  • 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!

    Read More
  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

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

    Read More

Recent Blog Posts

  • Graham Hill Describes a Lap at Monaco in 1968 +

    Read More
  • Just the Amazon and Me +

    Last Saturday I did something I haven’t done in quite a while — I took a little road trip by myself. It’s been a typically hectic few months. I’ve attended car events in Italy, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington, but I haven’t had any “alone time” with my cars. The Read More
  • From Pencil to Metal +

    Read More
  • A Weekend With The Gunnison Car Club +

    Once a year The Gunnison Car Club, under the able direction of Mike Callihan, takes over downtown Gunnison, Colorado, filling the streets with street rods, muscle cars, sports cars and pickups. This year the club selected me to receive The Lee Iacocca Award. Gunnison is 224 miles from the Denver International Airport Read More
  • Quick Takes from the Monterey Week +

    Driving up Highway 101 from Monterey to the San Francisco airport, it was clear that the ball was over. Instead of Monterey Car Week’s sea of candy-colored Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches, a swarm of Kias, Toyotas and Chevrolets peppered the landscape. An occasional modern Fiat 500 served as the token Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Collector Car News

  • Meet Keith Martin at the Chantilly Concours +

    SCM Publisher Keith Martin returns to France this weekend for the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille event, taking place September 6 in Chantilly. Martin serves as a concours judge for Citroën Special Bodyworks. (The SCM Collection does include a Méhari after all.) Other classes include:  • The Untouched Open Cars from the Read More
  • 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Headlines RM Sotheby's London Sale +

    RM Sotheby's expects a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France to fetch between $6.9m and $8.5m at their September 7 London sale. The car is an early single-louver example with covered headlights and period competition history. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" Offered at Worldwide Auburn +

    A 1965 Shelby Cobra "Dragonsnake" snarls to the auction block September 5 at Worldwide Auctioneers' 8th Annual The Auburn Auction. The auction takes place in Auburn, Indiana. View all the consignments here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Auctions America Offers 1929 Duesenberg Model J at Auburn Fall +

    A 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy (Auctions America estimate: $1.5m–$1.75m) crosses the auction block at Auctions America's Auburn Fall sale, September 2–6 in Auburn, Indiana. View all the cars here. View the digital catalog here. Read More
  • Monterey Recap: Preliminary Sales Total $392m +

    Monterey Car Week is over, and the last gavel has dropped, but auction companies continue to bring together buyers and sellers behind the scenes. Here are the preliminary numbers that have been confirmed so far: RM Sotheby's reported Monterey sales exceeding $172.7m — an increase of 20% over last year's Monterey Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
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}

Recent Profiles

load more / hold SHIFT key to load all load all