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Desert Find: 1965 Sunbeam Alpine V-8


Barn Finds reader Bill L. writes: I don’t know what information this guy is using to consider this a “Buick V8.” I have a fantasy that he just doesn’t know what he’s got. Might be a good thing to throw on the site. Keep up the good work! I’ll just keep lurking. Thanks to Bill for sending us the find! This Sunbeam Alpine has been re-engined somewhere along the line, but not with the usual Ford small-block. It’s located in Casa Grande, Arizona and is listed for sale here on craigslist for $1,200.


It’s hard to tell, but I think the hardtop may be an original one. Hopefully it kept at least some of the elements out while the car has been in outside storage. The seller says their father purchased the car from a wrecking yard about 10 years ago, and unfortunately did not get a title with the car so it will be sold on a bill of sale only.


The engine is where this find really starts to get interesting. The seller claims that it’s a 215 Buick V-8, which would certainly have a lot more power than the original, somewhat anemic four-cylinder. From what I can tell visually, they are correct, and it’s almost an honorary English engine as the tooling was eventually sold to British Leyland and powered many Rovers, TR8s and TVRs. The engine is not tucked under the firewall the way a Tiger V-8 is, but with the aluminum block being lighter it may not have affected the weight distribution as much as the cast iron Ford V-8 did.


Frankly, there’s not much of the inside left, although the three-speed manual said to be in there seems to fit well. I don’t think it makes any sense at all to restore this car to original, but if the conversion was done well, I think this could be a lot of fun to put back on the road. I do see a substantial amount of floor remaining, so I am hopeful that there isn’t too much rust.


Overall, if this one were closer I would at least be going to look at it. Think of it as an imitation Tiger that, if built correctly, might just outperform the original, at least around a corner. I think I’d enjoy that just for what it was!


  1. RayT Member

    Frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of stuffing V8s in Alpines. When Shelby did it for Rootes, a great deal of cutting and reworking was involved, and the factory tooling was changed to make the whole thing workable.

    Ken Miles built a low-buck V8 Alpine for Rootes at the same time, with the engine dropped in the simplest way, and I remember being told that the handling of the result was somewhat worse than awful.

    The aluminum Buick engine wouldn’t be as awful for weight distribution as the Ford 260/289, but I’d still be extremely dubious of this one.

    Like 0
    • Wayne Thomas

      A new GM V6 with 300hp would be lighter and plenty of power.

      Like 2
  2. Speedo

    It could be the British version of the GM V-8. I was used over 30 years in various Rovers and Land Rovers. GM sold them all the tooling for the baby V-8.

    Like 0
    • taxijohn

      As a UK resident it doesn’t look like the Rover unit.

      Like 0
  3. MikeW

    I like the 80’s SVO 2.3 turbo. I’ve seen a couple and the power can be at 250 fairly easily.

    Like 0
  4. junkman Member

    Good deal for someone nearby, that is a GT Alpine same trim as Tigers

    Like 0

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