1965 Sunbeam Tiger Mk I Coupe

Matt Jacques ©2015, courtesy of RM Auctions

This car is equipped with a 164-hp, 260-ci, OHV V8 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live axle rear suspension with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and front-disc and rear-drum hydraulic brakes.

British coachbuilders Thomas Harrington Ltd. built only a handful of beautifully crafted fastback Le Mans coupe bodies for Sunbeam Alpine chassis during the early 1960s. Exactly one of those bodies was built for the Sunbeam Tiger, the potent Ford V8-powered “pocket rocket” developed with the assistance of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles. This is that car, which is known to Sunbeam enthusiasts as simply “Harry.”

Harry was reportedly a factory developmental prototype that had been built based on future safety concerns about open-top models and with potential competition use in mind. Unfortunately, the end of Tiger production put an end to those lofty aspirations, and the Tiger Le Mans coupe remained a one-off.

In 1982, the car was found in England. Ian Garrad, the son of onetime Sunbeam West Coast Competition Director Norman Garrad, confirmed the authenticity of this original running-and-driving Harrington coupe. It was brought to California, shown in its original condition for seven years, and then fully restored over a two-year period, with much of the mechanical work being performed by Hollywood Sports Cars’ legendary Doane Spencer, who had built the original Tiger prototype decades earlier. The restoration won Second in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1990.

This Tiger has been the winner of numerous other concours prizes in the years since, and it remains much as it was originally, with only a few modern modifications. These modifications, made at the suggestion of Doane Spencer, included upgrading the high-volume/high-pressure oil pump, modifying the heads for unleaded fuel, converting the original distributor to electronic switching, and adding a larger radiator with a five-blade fan and a 350-CFM Holley carburetor.

This one-of-a-kind car is the most unique and special of all Tigers, and it represents the “holy grail” to enthusiasts of these potent cats.

Dale Novak

Dale Novak - SCM Contributor

Dale started his love of cars by collecting Hot Wheels as a child. His first car was a dead 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 R/T, acquired for the princely sum of $500. He’s been buying, selling, restoring, collecting and otherwise obsessing over classic cars ever since. Dale serves as the voice of Auctions America as well as Tom Mack and Carlisle Auctions. He also serves as a Contributor and Senior Auction Analyst for SCM and ACC. Dale’s collection includes a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger, a “Mister Norm’s” 1970 Dodge Challenger 440 R/T and an ultra-rare 1940 Plymouth convertible (to name a few). When he’s not immersed in the world of classic cars, Dale applies his talents as a seasoned marketing and advertising consultant.

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