It was a situation that gave forces throughout the country all the justification they needed to pepper their fleets with high(er) performance machinery, from saloons, such as the lumbering Zephyr 6 and Jaguar MKII (that was also popular with many villains also), to what must have been absurdly impractical, two-seat roadsters, such as the MGA and the Daimler Dart. [22][d], The Girling-manufactured brakes used 9.85 in (250 mm) discs at the front and 9 in (229 mm) drums at the rear. [25] The Rootes factory at Ryton did not have the capacity to build the Tiger, so the company contracted the job to Jensen in West Bromwich. Equally implausible in terms of its ability to transport arrestees, accommodate a burly officer of the law, and carry lots of exciting emergency kit was the Sunbeam Tiger — but it was certainly a car that few others could get the better of in its day.

Conceived in part by Carroll Shelby, it followed the template of the great man's ‘Cobra' in combining a pretty but relatively soft British sports car — the Sunbeam Alpine — with a properly powerful V8 engine from Ford America to produce a roadster that could comfortably top 120 mph. Now with its standard 200hp engine upgraded to 290 and its bodywork repainted in an appropriate law-enforcing white, it's no less formidable a Q-car than it was almost 50 years ago — and you'd certainly get just as much of a surprise if it roared up behind you, blue light flashing…, Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2018. [11] Ian Garrad and John Panks, director of Rootes Motors Inc. of North America, tested an early version of the car and were so impressed that Panks wrote a glowing report to Brian Rootes: "we have a tremendously exciting sports car which handles extremely well and has a performance equivalent to an XX-K Jaguar[b] ... it is quite apparent that we have a most successful experiment that can now be developed into a production car. [h] In the words of Ian Hall, who drove the Tiger in the Acropolis Rally, "I felt that the Tiger had just had it – it was an out of date leviathan". Rootes decided instead to contract the assembly work to Jensen at West Bromwich in England, and pay Shelby a royalty on every car produced. [62] Compounding the problem, the company's small-block V8 engines had the distributor positioned at the rear, unlike the front-mounted distributor of the Ford V8. The production team recorded the sound of an authentic Tiger owned by a collector in Los Angeles[83] and edited it into the film. Although this Sunbeam Tiger police car is no longer for sale with Albion Motorcars, its entire inventory is listed in the Classic Driver Market, including another white Sunbeam Tiger. [78], The 1965 Tiger Mark I gained some exposure on American television as the car of choice for Maxwell Smart in the spoof spy series Get Smart. [63] Chrysler added its pentastar logo to the car's badging, and in its marketing literature de-emphasised the Ford connection, simply describing the Tiger as having "an American V-8 power train".

Scrutineers later disqualified the car however, because it had been fitted with undersized cylinder head valves. [20], Although twice as powerful as the Alpine, the Tiger is only about 20% heavier,[21] but the extra weight of the larger engine required some minor suspension modifications. There was a place for everything and a space for everything, but positively not an inch to spare. "[11], Provisionally known as the Thunderbolt,[12] the Shelby prototype was more polished than the Miles version, and used a Ford 4-speed manual transmission. [5] McKenzie returned with the news that the Ford 260 V8 engine appeared to be suitable,[5] which apart from its size advantage was relatively light at 440 lb (200 kg). Stunning original example of the Ford Tiger powered V8 classic 1966 Sunbeam Police pursuit vehicle. [35] The Mark II Tiger, fitted with the larger Ford 289 cu in (4.7 L), was intended exclusively for export to America and was never marketed in the UK,[36] although six right-hand drive models were sold to the Metropolitan Police for use in traffic patrols and high-speed pursuits; four more went to the owners of important Rootes dealerships. [23] But they were still steel monocoques, and made the Le Mans Tigers 66 lb (30 kg) heavier than a road-going Tiger at 2,615 lb (1,186 kg), almost 600 lb (270 kg) more than the winning Ferrari. [64], Rootes' design director Roy Axe commented later that "The Alpine and Tiger were always oddballs in the [Rootes] range. [18] Not only did Lord Rootes agree that the car would go into production, but he decided that it should be launched at the 1964 New York Motor Show, only eight months away, despite the company's normal development cycle from "good idea" to delivery of the final product being three to four years. FANTASTIC CONDITION. The Sunbeam Tiger was developed by the Rootes Group and Carroll Shelby as a budget alternative for the AC Cobra 289. [28], Several performance modifications were available from dealers.

Shelby's competition Tiger made an early appearance in the B Production Class of Pacific Coast Division SCCA races, which resulted in some "highly successful" publicity for the new car. The factory only ever designated two, the Mark I and Mark II, but as the official Mark I production spanned the change in body style from the Series IV Alpine panels to the Series V panels, the later Mark I cars are generally designated Mark IA by Sunbeam Tiger enthusiasts. I think they [Chrysler] didn't understand it, or have the same interest in it as the family cars – I think it was as simple as that. Although this Sunbeam Tiger police car is no longer for sale with Albion Motorcars, its entire inventory is listed in the Classic Driver Market, including another white Sunbeam Tiger. [37], All Tigers were fitted with a single Ford two barrel carburetor. Carrying the same registration mark it wears today, it was delivered to Wembley police garage on 8 June 1967 with 29 miles on the clock and allocated the call sign '1965'. [56], Rootes had always been insufficiently capitalised, and losses resulting from a damaging thirteen-week strike at one of its subsidiaries, British & Light Steel Pressings, coupled with the expense of launching the Hillman Imp, meant that by 1964 the company was in serious financial difficulties. [22], Shortly before its public unveiling at the New York Motor Show in April 1964 the car was renamed from Thunderbolt to Tiger, inspired by Sunbeam's 1925 land-speed-record holder. [29] Painted and trimmed bodies were supplied by Pressed Steel in Oxfordshire, and the engines and gearboxes directly from Ford in America. [9], Shelby began work on his prototype, the white car as it came to be known, in April 1963,[10] and by the end of the month it was ready for trial runs around Los Angeles.



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