Cobra Alternative! 1967 Sunbeam Tiger

Jamming an American V8 in a nimble European sports car has been done numerous ways, most famously in the form of Carroll Shelby’s Cobra, based on the British AC Ace. This Sunbeam Tiger takes the same approach, right down to the same Ford 260 cid V8 that powered early Cobras. A 260 Cobra sold for nearly $14 million in 2016. Raise your hand if that’s more than 50% of your retirement savings. If $3500 sounds more budget-friendly, check out this 1967 Sunbeam Tiger in Wendell, Idaho! The listing here on craigslist calls the little Tiger “85% there” including the 260 Ford V8. The faded green and underlying red make a holiday color-scheme, and someone is bound to make room for this attractive British sports car under their tree.

Some may decry the V8 as upsetting the Sunbeam’s balance and making it nose-heavy and ponderous in corners, and to them I say “Poppycock!” According to SunbeamAlpine, the V8 barely changes the nearly-perfect weight distribution to 51/49 percent. With nearly twice the power of the native Sunbeam Alpine, the Tiger with V8 power improves the driving experience in nearly every way imaginable, pulling you out of corners faster and getting you to the next corner sooner.

Leaves and water marks tell a sad story of outdoor storage with no top. The molded plastic seats would look more at home in a 10 HP go-kart than a serious sports car. It appears this Sunbeam got a downgrade to barely-used bomber on the way to being completely forgotten. Before you “hard pass” of this tiny terror, checkout this walkaround and drive of a nearly perfect example. The V8 snarl will definitely get people’s attention, but the Tiger’s conservative styling suits many enthusiasts better than the in-your-face Cobra.

In the rear suspension department, the Tiger’s sturdy but rather unsophisticated live axle is more similar to a Mustang than the Cobra’s independent rear setup. That said, Mustangs ran the solid axle until 2015. The difference would be most notable on corners with uneven surfaces or cresting a rise mid-corner where the solid axle may skip sideways. I’m no Tiger expert, so this could be folly, but I’d consider a stock-appearing restoration with a hot small-block Ford crate motor with quiet-ish mufflers, five-speed overdrive, 14″ wheels, and sticky tires. Even a mild build should propel the 2600 lb drop-top to 60 MPH in around 5 seconds flat, enough to keep up with traffic and roast the occasional poseur who quips “So cute!” However, if that’s blasphemy to the Sunbeam faithful, feel free to administer a proper flogging in the comments below. Which suits your style more, Tiger or Cobra?


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    That original engine stock gives good performance and the gearboxes are bullet proof. Easy mods to the engine can produce much more horsepower but the last 289 Tiger I drove had all the get up and go I wanted for a street car. This car looks to be in decent condition and could probably be made into something fun.

    Like 5
  2. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    My cousin had one of these back in the 60s. It was scary fast. If the instance car is rust-free and not 2500 miles from me, I’d pay the $3500 in a heartbeat.

    Like 2
  3. RayT Member

    I’m with bobhess. The Tiger with 260 is plenty quick enough for everything but serious track-day stuff. On the road, it’s a neat little machine.

    If I’m remembering correctly, the trim used on Tigers was mainly straight-off-the-Alpine stuff, so items such as seats, steering wheel and bumpers — not to mention any small stuff that isn’t in the photo of a pile of parts — shouldn’t be hard to find.

    So if there’s no major rust hidden away, $3500 sounds like a smokin’ deal, especially for someone who can do a lot of the work themselves. I’d do my best to put it back in factory-original shape.

    Like 4
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    This looks like a scammer to me –
    price is WAY too low,& then there’s the spelling
    in the ad.

    Like 5
    • Steve R

      I don’t think is a scam. You don’t list a VIN, which identifies it as an Alpine if you are trying to scam someone. It took less than one minute to look up the difference in VIN numbers between Tigers and Alpines.

      The price should have been the first indication something was up. The second thing is the seller never mentions Tiger in the body of the ad, only the header. The ad in general is misleading, but less so than many other ads featured on this site. In this case the seller provided the information so anyone could figure out the cars true heritage with next to no effort. Only someone incapable of looking out for their own interests wouldn’t have done the basic research into this car.

      Steve R

      Like 11
  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    Thanks – I wouldn’t have caught that.

    • Steve R

      It’s easy to overlook. I’m used to looking up VIN’s for cars, there are enthusiast websites for almost every popular car that breaks them down. Just type Google search the year, model, VIN and decode (1967 sunbeam tiger vin decode), and sites which break down a VIN will pop up. For eBay ads I always check a sellers other listings, both active and completed, it sometimes gives you a better understanding of the seller.

      Steve R

      Like 4
  6. Gord

    Just looking at the engine compartment tells me it’s an Alpine

    Like 3
  7. bobhess bobhess Member

    Gord… any details? Did the stock Alpine have the reinforcements to the fender wells? Been a while since I was in one. Real Tiger or not this car is in good enough condition to restore and enjoy. Have always appreciated a lot of horse power in my cars.

    Like 2
    • Gord

      If I could post a picture I could show you. If you compare this to a real tiger just look where the braces from the firewall attach to the inner fender. The supports they attach to have a completely different shape. More rounded then squared off. It’s a dead give away. Hope I explained it well enough

      Like 2
      • Mike P

        I’m still trying to figure out where I went wrong with my retirement savings: just under $7 million?? Holy smokes!

  8. junkman Member

    Not a Tiger guys. Vin # is an Alpine , under the hood fender braces are Alpine. Still worth twice that price in parts.

    Like 4
  9. John Phillips

    I fell in love with them when I saw one on Get Smart.

    Like 3
  10. Charles

    This ad needs a new heading. This is NOT a Tiger

  11. Super Glide

    Parts? You need parts for this car so you go to Chrysler, who last owned this car brand with a Ford engine/transmission in it. Then you go online to find any parts that are a fortune or non-existant. Problem is that even if one existed in a bone yard at one point, it’s rotted away or recycled a bunch of times.

    I believe the sole and remaining purpose of this, is as parts car.

  12. RBCJr

    I was waiting for a Maxwell Smart comment!

  13. John

    A Tiger is a long, long way from a Cobra. I’ve ridden in both. A Cobra is a thrill at any speed; a Tiger is unsafe at any speed.

  14. John

    A Tiger is a long, long way from a Cobra. I’ve ridden in both. A Cobra is thrilling at any speed; a Tiger is unsafe at any speed.

    • Gord Dewhurst

      I’ve ridden in Cobras and owned a Tiger for 40 years. I’ve never felt unsafe even on a race track. Most people that don’t know Tigers think they’re front end heavy. When Shelby built the prototype they set the engine back so the weight distribution is around 51 to 49 front to back. The worst thing is the reverse ackermann angle that causes one to scrub off speed in a tight turn at speed. Even this isn’t noticable when street driven. I’ve owned many different cars but this is the one that I always hang on to.

  15. bobhess bobhess Member

    Got it, Gord. Thanks!

  16. danny mather

    at 3500 be it alpine or tiger it a bargain. did 67 tigers come with 289 only? dannys mustangs

    Like 1
  17. Backintheusa

    It is definitely an Alger (Alpine ‘converted’ to a Tiger) but despite the leaves in the tub, the floors and trunk look surprisingly solid. While well done Algers certainly have their place and their fans, the process is not for the faint-hearted and almost always requires a rusty or wrecked Tiger as a parts donor. I don’t see any evidence that this had one. Many misguided attempts result in seriously butchered cars that can only be parts cars from then on. I may be wrong, but the photo of the engine compartment (#10) looks like a big chunk of the firewall was simply cut out., a sign that the converter was not experienced. It will take a lot of work to make this safely drivable, whether with the current 260, a stock Rootes 1725 four, or some other engine. But, given the apparent state of the floors, it may well be easily worth the asking price to the right buyer.

    Like 1
  18. George Mattar

    Seems cheap to me. I remember Maxwell Smart driving one of these. I always wanted one. Real Tigers sell for much more than this.

  19. John

    The CL ad is funny. SunBeam is I think a flashlight company, and the braces under the hood are amateurish at best.
    It looks like a modded Alpine.

  20. pwtiger

    I’m curious about the 5 lug wheels, both the Tigers and Alpine’s had 4 lugs. I wonder what type of front suspension it has? What type of rear diff?

  21. Phil

    I owned one back in the mid 70’s.
    Brake master & clutch master seem way out of position to me. I remember these items being directly over the rear of valve cover. That said the under hood braces seem correct to me. All of that said (along with the VIN decode) tell me it is not a real Tiger.

  22. Phil

    Actually I typed this backwards. So sorry. However, it is still an Alpine!

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