Cheap Roadster Project: 1968 Sunbeam Alpine

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Well here’s an interesting one, though the listing description is a true exercise in minimalism. When first spied, I thought, “Hey, it’s an Agent 86 car” a nod to Maxwell Smart’s ride in the ’60s spoof TV series Get Smart. But no, Max drove a red Sunbeam Tiger and this 1968 example is just a regular Sunbeam Alpine. Nevertheless, it’s still worth a look. It is located in Toms River, New Jersey, and is available, here on craigslist for $2,000. Thanks to Mitchell G for this tip!

Sunbeam was a product of the Rootes Group and they produced the Alpine Series I through IV, which is the two-seat open car like this example, from 1959 until 1968. The Alpine name carried forward in 1969 but now on a two-door, fastback model which saw production end in 1975. There were approximately 69K Alpine two-seaters assembled between 1959 and 1968 and our subject car, being a ’68 model, puts it at the end of the line.

This Alpine is a bit rough around the edges, the orange/red finish is badly faded but the body seems to be reasonably intact. I would be concerned about rust, always an issue with a New Jersey car, though none is evident via the images. The floors show surface rust but it is not clear if it is corrosion beyond the surface state. The chrome is weak and the bumpers, both front and back, appear to have minor dents. It does seem that all of the trim is present, however. The trunk lid may just be ajar but it looks misaligned. It’s hard to say if there is a useable convertible top, there is something rumpled sitting in the space that the folded top normally occupies. Of note are the “tea-strainer” headlight grilles.

The interior is not exactly gutted but clearly needs work – missing carpet and door cards are at the top of the notable list. The dashboard is pretty well trashed and at least one gauge is MIA from the instrument panel. The seats appear to be useable, perhaps only in need of a deep cleaning. The good news is that the interior of a car like an Alpine is minimal in size and appointments so there isn’t a lot to contend with in terms of restoration.

The best for last, of course, is the engine. It’s in three places, under the hood, in the trunk and in what appears to be a garage. Research tells us that it is a 93 HP, 1.7 liter, in-line, four-cylinder motor fed by twin carburetors. The seller states, “Engine is apart but have all parts” Hopefully that’s not famous last words and the new owner won’t have to conduct an Easter egg style hunt to track down some small, obscure parts. The transmission, which the seller states as being “good”, is a four-speed manual unit.

Subjectively speaking, I think the Alpine was one of the best looking of the ’60s British sports cars to come our way. Even in forlorn shape, this example strongly shows-off its iconic lines. The engine situation is a bit of a bummer but this is, after all, only a $2K car. And if you are up for a get-your-hands-dirty project, this might be the right car to tackle. Considering the price and condition, what do you think, worth the risk?

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  1. Hazardman

    Actually, the Get Smart tv car wasn’t a real Tiger as there was no room for an 8 cyl engine and the gadgets that fit under the hood.

    Like 5
    • tiger66

      The one in the opening credits at the start of episodes in the first two seasons was a real Tiger. The one with the underhood gadgets used within episodes was an Alpine with Tiger badging, etc. to make it look like a Tiger.

      Like 3
  2. Jeffrey Rodgers

    Having own a 1965 Alpine back in 1970, was a nice car with a rag top and factory hard and very clean—–paid $500. So easy on gas and the girls loved the top down during the summer, thats how I got my wife.
    Not worth restoring, unless your a wrench/interior/body Alpine guy.
    Parts alone would be price it out, unless you love the car.
    2k for a parts cars?????

    Only reason I would be interested is for body parts for my 1965 Tiger Sunbeam. Nice to have clean/damage sheet metal.

    Tiger Ty

    Like 4
  3. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    “Ah, the old ‘the engine parts are all there’ trick, eh?”

    Like 7
  4. SMS

    In the early 70’s my mother was looking to replace her mgb. Looked at one of these. Wasn’t as good handling as the b and wasn’t as fast as a TR6. She ended up getting the TR6.

    A couple of years ago I had the chance to spend some time with an Alpine. The extra room was nice and it rode well. If I were to choose today I think an Alpine would be a good contender.

    Like 2
  5. MattR

    My neighbor across the street has one of these that his wife’s Dad restored. It’s racing green and a real looker. I get jealous every time he pulls it out of the garage and heads up the street with his shades on.

    Like 1
  6. Gord

    Actually the Get Smart car that Don Adams drove was a real Tiger that was given to him after the series was over. They did use an Alpine as well for the reason Hazardman mentioned when they needed the gadgets under the hood.

    Like 1
  7. JimmyJ

    4cyl ford ecoboost…..mike drop

    Like 4
  8. Backintheusa

    Almost definitely a parts car. It is hard to be sure, but the floors look to be flat in the 4th photo. The floors are a part of the car’s structure and should be formed for rigidity. The fact that these are flat and rusty suggests that they were replaced (or, flat panels were simply placed on top of the original rusty ones) a while ago, which means the car has been rusting for a long time. From the engine compartment photo I would say this was originally Midnight Blue, which is a very desirable color, but would guess it was the subject of a cheap ‘restoration’ many years ago. Still, there look to be a lot of worthwhile parts and hopefully it will help keep another Sunbeam on the road.

    Like 0
  9. steve

    Just sold my green 67. It was a nice solid car. The photos aren’t good but that’s a TON of bubbling rust on the bottom of the fenders, rockers and quarter panels. Parts only…

    Like 1
  10. pwtiger

    Tom’s River? Seems to me that I bought some Tiger parts from a business there.

    Like 0
    • backintheusa

      You are remembering correctly. Classic Sunbeam Auto Parts was originally located there. I think the owner’s name was Joe, but I could be wrong about that. I know I traded him a very rusty Alpine parts car for a set of shock absorbers c1980. I looked twice at the current car to be sure it wasn’t mine somehow resurrected, but mine was green and I am pretty sure this one was definitely blue to begin with.

      Like 0
  11. Maestro1

    It’s a tough call. I,too, like the design, they are delightful cars and slow, but where are you going? The romantic in me says the car should be saved. The realist says if you want it, you better keep it for a while. You will be North of a number used as a guide by all the car publications.

    Like 1
  12. Will Owen

    Sweet cars. This is past the point where I’d want to pursue it, especially at this distance, but if it were near by at this price I could get into intra-familial trouble pretty quickly! I’ve had a couple of its siblings, the Hillman Husky (same under-structure), and would like another one of those, too, but Alpines are that much more fun unless you’re trying to haul anything. The engines are sweet and easy to work on, and the gearshift action is brilliant in both cars as well. The differential on the Alpines is a good bit stronger, and a Husky really needs that as a transplant.

    See what happens when you get an old Rootes fan going?

    Like 1
  13. Rick

    brace it,suspension and brake upgade,302/5spd/ and 9″ and wala….an in-enspensive Tiger…

    Like 0
  14. Jeffrey Rodgers

    So true, if you love the style and car, 10k for a screaming bullet proof Tiger!!
    Zoom, Zoom!!!!

    In 1997 when I got my 1965 Tiger, non-running, 4 flat tires, interior a wreck, no brakes, holy top, but body was solid and engine turns ( Southern car, no rust, just battery box) matching engine to body and still in one piece for 3k, I thought my wife would divorce me..

    3 months later Tiger running, brakes, seats, carpet, dash pad, rag top, tires, magna flow mufflers and SS exhaust. It was worth it, still miss my wife, but the Tiger still sleeps in my garage.

    Tiger Ty

    Like 3
  15. Ron Jordan

    I think this is a pretty hot deal and if not 3k miles away I would on it.

    Like 0
  16. randy

    In the end, it’s a $500 parts car. Consider shipping and restoration with unobtanium parts. $$$$

    Like 0
  17. Christopher Gentry

    Bond , James Bond. Drove a pal blue Alpine before the DB 5

    Like 0
  18. Robt

    Looks like the start of a v-8 track car project. A rolling chassis to drop a small Ford motor into. With the needed up grades thru-out for track work, why not?

    Like 0
    • backintheusa

      Because there is a lot more to a Tiger clone than just dropping in small block V8. Many Alpines have been butchered beyond repair in a misguided attempt to drop in a V8. There are other, far easier ways to turn an Alpine into a screamer than trying to copy the factory approach.

      Like 0
  19. Robt

    I’d anticipate proper research and development time for dropping in a little V8 w/ a 4 or 5 spd. Including suspension and brake upgrades, especially if the plan includes track time.
    Didn’t say it would be easy. Or that there wouldn’t be hurdles to get it right. But given it’s current condition/shape and the general consensus of it not being worth restoring …
    Looks like an idea worth considering to me.

    Like 0
  20. Kenn


    Like 0

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