Grab this 1965 Sunbeam Tiger by the tail

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When it came to taking small British sports cars, shoe-horning a growling V8 under the hood, and producing a car that was capable of scaring your average motorist silly, there is little doubt that Carol Shelby was a master at the art. The AC Cobra was a perfect example of his craft, and so was the Sunbeam Tiger. Although Shelby had hoped to be contracted to build the Tiger for Sunbeam, this task was undertaken by Jensen, and the result was a pretty special and potent little car. Today, the Tiger is experiencing ongoing popularity amongst classic car enthusiasts, and this has seen the car maintain a healthy market value. Bidding on this example has been quite solid, and while it has reached $28,650, it’s no real surprise that the reserve has not been met. Located in Stilwell, Kansas, you will find the Tiger listed for sale here on eBay.

The Carnival Red paint on the Tiger looks quite good, although the owner does describe it as driver quality. The car has undergone a repaint at some point in its life, and the passenger side quarter panel has also been replaced. The only obvious rust in the car is a few small spots right in the bottom of that same quarter panel. The underside of the car has a fairly consistent coating of surface corrosion, but there doesn’t appear to be any real rot there. Due to the intrinsic value of this car, I’d probably want to address that before it had a chance to deteriorate any further. The car comes with both a soft-top and a hardtop, and it’s quite nice to see that it still wears its original wheels, hubcaps, and wheel trims. Too often these are replaced with aftermarket allow wheels.

Opening the hood reveals what all of the fuss was about with the Tiger. The original 4-cylinder Sunbeam engine was relegated to the bin, as a 260ci Ford V8 engine and Ford 4-speed manual transmission were installed in their place. The V8 was only marginally longer than the engine it replaced but was considerably wider, and it really was a tight fit with no space to spare. Suddenly, the car went from boasting 82hp up to 164hp, while some additional parts could be sourced from Shelby which elevated it to 240hp. However, this wasn’t just an Alpine with a V8 under the hood, as a significant amount of engineering went into ensuring the car could cope, with items like the steering upgraded from recirculating ball to rack and pinion, suspension upgrades, and upgrades to the body and frame. This Tiger looks like it is completely original under the hood, and it has recently been treated to a full service, a new exhaust, new brakes, and new shocks.

The interior of the Tiger could certainly be used as it is, but if this were my car, there are a few items and issues that I would be addressing. The seats and door trims look to be in good order and probably don’t need to be touched. The carpet appears to be quite faded and may need to be replaced. The timber veneer or the finish on the dash looks like it is peeling, and that will take specialist work to address, while the dash pad is also cracked. It isn’t the end of the world though, because replacement components are actually quite readily available.

The Sunbeam Tiger is an attractive looking little British sports car, but the wow factor for one of these is to get behind the wheel and floor the loud pedal. Doing that unleashed the real Tiger, and allowed it to sprint from 0-60mph in around 8 seconds. It is also a car that is incredibly civilized and versatile when driven normally, and it was this Jekyll and Hyde personality that has made it a hot commodity with collectors. Good examples will sell for around the $45,000 mark, while pristine examples can fetch figures in excess of $70,000. I’ll be interested to see what the final sale price is on this one, and I’d love to see a Barn Finds reader make the winning bid.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Gaspumpchas

    Beautiful and unmolested Tiger. Will be interesting to see what it sells for, Need full inspection for the ironworms, but seems solid. Good description and pics. Good luck to the new owner!!


    Like 4
    • Keith

      Definitely a nice rare car but I must agree a detailed rust inspection in hidden areas would be prudent, still worth the price though.

      Like 4
      • TJohnson

        Agree with both of you! I had a 63 Alpine that the previous owner stuffed a 289 into. Looked very nice until you started looking real close, and found plenty of rust. This car needs a full inspection underneath, and a soft magnet ran along the rocker
        s and lower quarters.

        Like 0
    • Mountainwoodie

      As I mentioned, and hard to believe in retrospect, I drove a Tiger as a parts getter for a garage owner during the summer when I was 16 and 17. I’ll never forget my either inability or weak left leg, to let the clutch out properly . Numerous times I left the stop light and laid serious rubber on the road. The owner, who also had a bytchin 64 Galaxie 500 fastback , never said a word about the tires. He was a character in his own right with a stogie crammed into the corner of his mouth and a too small ball cap laid cockeyed on his head….way ahead of today’s backwards hat wearing .

      Like 5
  2. Neil

    There can only one resation to this littel gem – I WANT IT!!
    Sadly there are currently 28,650 reasons why this will never be the case – and probably a lot more before the auction ends!!

    Like 6
  3. ICEMAN from Winnipeg

    Maxwell Smart !!

    Like 8
  4. healeydays

    I had the opportunity to swap a 67 Tiger for my 59 Austin Healey and I turned the guy down. I regret that to this day…

    Like 5
  5. Dave

    Just imagine how silly you could scare yourself with an old Alpine and a modern 5.0 crate motor!

    Like 3
  6. victor Sanchez

    OMG please don’t tar and feather me for this comment but, in 1970 I was a 10th grader with my first car a 1963 Impala SS 327 P/G now I thought I was driving a AA fuel dragster and got next to one of these little monsters now you could tell it had a hot cam but how fast could it be, he told me to leave when the light turned green and count to 5 and he would catch me and damn he wasn’t kidding it looked like I had the brake on when he passed me, nice car and good times

    Like 4
  7. kiteflier

    My older brother had a 1959 xk150s roadster when our neighbor got one of these tigers and challenged him to see which was faster. It was 1968 and the state just opened a four lane divided bypass near us. I was 14 and so of course I got to go along. Nobody was on the road yet and they lined up side by side.
    The neighbor took off and we could barely see his car for all the tire smoke.
    He didn’t know how to harness all that power and burned rubber in all the gears while fishtailing like mad. After about a mile and half or so the neighbor got traction but by then the Jag was unwound and we passed him. I leaned over to look at the speedometer.. a tick over 130.. seatbelts and common sense of course not, we were young and immortal

    Like 4

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