Build an Alger: Sunbeam Tiger + Alpine Projects

When I first glanced at this Sunbeam Alpine / Tiger duo project, I thought for sure the blue car was the Tiger and the red one was the Alpine. Nope – turns out the blue coupe here is the Alpine, a normally docile-looking vehicle that appears ready to pounce with those aftermarket wheels. However, as you can see here on eBay, it’s likely to be a donor car for putting a genuine Tiger back on the road. 

The seller is not incorrect that Tigers are on the rise. In fact, I’ve seen more than one magazine cite the Tiger as a rapidly appreciating vehicle, and the reasons are often valid. They weren’t produced in huge numbers and it combined the best aspects of British flair with American power. This particular Tiger was in a front-end impact, but the sale will include the appropriate Ford-sourced V8 to go back into the body while the Alpine can sacrifice its front quarters to replace what was lost in the accident.

The 260 V8 will need a rebuild, the seller discloses, and there are a few other issues. The bellhousing on the transmission needs to be replaced, and there is a crack on the intake manifold. There is also a “chunk” of the block broken off where it meets the bellhousing, so some level of welding / fabrication will be needed in addition to the parts required for a rebuild. Still, the motor is what makes this project worthwhile and in a no-reserve auction, there’s even a chance you’ll come out ahead after the Tiger is fully sorted.

While it seems like a shame to hack up a good Alpine, I’m afraid that’s exactly what I’d do in order to restore a genuine Tiger. My father-in-law had a neighbor with a Tiger, and he still talks about the white-knuckle ride he went on back in the day. Loose, poorly-constructed and somewhat terrifying, he also notes the raw speed it was capable of made for an exciting ride. This seller clearly has more than a few projects to keep him entertained (what else do you see in this photo?), so hopefully this Tiger will run again under new ownership.

Fast Finds


  1. Howard A Member

    From what I’ve read, an Alpine does not make a good Tiger project. I read, the amount of work it would take, doesn’t justify hacking up a good Alpine, almost equally as rare. V-6 Alpine conversions are popular, but there was nothing wrong with the 4 cylinder it came with. Truth be known, the Alpine was much easier to drive, the V-8 was a handful.

    • Bruce Best

      It was not just the handling but the brakes. I had a co worker that had one of these in the early 1980’s in Denver. Even with the disk brakes they did not stop well. There is something inherent in the balance that with that big engine’s weight you were putting more load on the front tires than they could cope with in breaking mode.

      Fun, YES, Fast Yes but not as comfortable as the regular Alpine and lots of vibration. I do not know if that was age, lack of care or a design problem. I was driving an ALFA 2000 GTV 1974 and on I-70 he could walk away from me with ease. On the back roads I could do the reverse to him.

      But I have always liked this body design, especially in red or in dark almost black blue paint. The ones I have seen the red ones had black interiors and the blue one had a tan leather interior. Basic fun and far less expensive than a Cobra but I agree with the writers that say the conversion is difficult and not worth the effort.

  2. Mike Williams

    The work involves removing the steering box and drag link and replacing it with a rack and pinion setup, then moving the firewall back several inches and work to the tunnel. Plus brakes and rearend. Not for the novice. When done right they are fun to drive.

  3. Mike Williams

    Already up to $3050 and just getting started. The Tiger body and vin is worth abit.

  4. Healeymonster

    One of the cars in my collection is a 65 Tiger. To say they were “Loose and poorly constructed” is a extremely inappropriate statement. The Rootes group sent the Alpine over to Carol Shelby to engineer the V8 swap. The end result was far beyond Lord Rootes expectations and so he green lighted the Tiger project. The chassis is extremely stiff. The build quality is better than any other British car I have owned. (Jag, Rover, Healey, MG) There are many changes done to create the Tiger that are not stated in books and belong in the realm of a handful of Tiger enthusiasts that hold the proper knowledge and credentials in order certify a True Tiger from all the Algers running around claiming to be the real deal. My Tiger wears the certificate under the dash as most all real Tigers do. BTW, the squared off hard top is a Tiger only item. The Alpine had a rounded top. So this picture would indicate a Tiger. A Tiger hardtop in restorable condition is currently on Ebay for around $4000.00 sans car..

    • Dave at OldSchool Restorations

      I’m with you, Healymonster.

      Having restored two Tigers (when they were worth about 12-15k), it’s pretty hard to make an Alpine into a Tiger correctly, and a ‘clone’ is not likely to EVER drive the same way as a Tiger , with cut up sheet metal and without the X factor…but it will still be a fun ride

      …and Jeff, the blue one is not a coupe, it is a convertible with a hardtop .

    • colfair

      The series 4&5 (1964-1968) alpines also had the later hardtop that you call the squared off hard top, series 1-3 alpines with the bigger rear fins had the rounded hard top, so in fact the squared off hardtop wasn’t a ‘tiger only’ item, I’ve owned both here in the UK, unfortunately not any more !!

  5. terry

    Back in the early 70s a member of a local sports car club brought his pristine Tiger to a parking lot gymkhana. For some reason he let his teenage babysitter run the car. She promptly drove it into the concrete base of a light pole. Not so pristine after that.

  6. Chuck Foster 55chevy Chuck Foster

    I had a 66 Alpine, it was a fun car, and comfortable as well, just not a lot of power but it did ok. Having a Tiger would be awesome, but I’m getting too old and have too many projects as it is.

  7. Tom

    My current Tiger is my second. Once you drive one,you’re addicted. It is my favorite ride in my current collection. Buying a running Tiger and improving it would be less expensive and a better investment than this deal.

  8. Woodie Man

    As a 16 yr old shop gopher I drove a ’66? Tiger one summer……..It was a bear to handle for my then puny biceps but boy was it a blast. My boss also had a ’64 Galaxie 2 door with a 4 speed I think. He was old school when old school was new school. Great summer and he helped me with my ’50 Packard and I’ll always remember him for his kindness to a punk kid.

  9. junkman Member

    A very serious amount of work here to make any of this move on it’s own power.I would be amazed if anything more than a parts bonanza comes from this auction.I fix and restore these so believe me I know. A good deal for someone who lives close by and doesn’t have to deal with shipping. As far as the #s go, you need to be extremely talented to get a fake past real deal Tiger guy.

  10. SteveN

    i’d like to buy them, keep the Alpine and sell off the Tiger bits.

  11. Bwickflorida

    My dad had a tiger when I was a kid, he just loved to pull up beside a Nova or Camaro then just stomp the gas. They didnt know what was going on. His was blue with black interior.He would be smoking a Kent and we had no seat belts on what a different time, we just yelled for him to go faster.

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