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Numbers Matching Project: 1964 Sunbeam Tiger

The Sunbeam Tiger is one of the most interesting muscle cars ever conceived, in my humble opinion, taking the appearance of a homely British roadster while giving it a massive shot of speed. It’s a hot rod in the purest sense, with the added irony of being based on perhaps one of the more humble British drop-tops ever made. The Sunbeam Alpine was inoffensive, but that’s about the best I can say about it; the Tiger effectively wiped the slate clean of any recollection of the lethargic two-seater it was based on. Find this rusty but numbers-matching Tiger listed here on eBay with no reserve and located in Wylie, Texas.

So, if this picture is any clue, yes – the Tiger lived in New York State before coming down to sunny, dry Texas. It’s truly a shame what we do to vehicles up here, courtesy of road salt and other maladies, but I still can’t not smile at the idea of some eccentric hooning a Tiger through all four seasons. The seller notes that while a fair amount of spare parts are included, there’s some missing as well, and you’ll need to review the photos to see exactly what you’re getting. But don’t worry about the missing lens or seats or convertible top – you’re going to want to deal with the missing floors, first.

Now, really, put all that aside and consider this: the Tiger, despite its sad state of affairs, will come with its numbers-matching 260 V8 engine, 4-speed manual transmission, and Dana 44 rear differential. The Tiger is the sort of car you can justify fixing some cosmetic ills as long as you’ve got the correct drivetrain for the car. While the floor work and fenders may look intimidating, this seems like the type of project that will be worth reviving, especially if you can handle your own bodywork. The no-reserve listing doesn’t hurt, either. The seller notes it was last registered in New York in 1973, so there’s a small chance the drivetrain doesn’t have a ton of miles on it.

The seller includes pictures in the listing of all the parts that are included, and it’s nothing all that significant. A battered gauge cluster, original steering wheel, vent windows, various switchgear and other used parts are included, but I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by any of it, and I certainly would align my bid with the fact that it’s a genuine Tiger with the numbers matching drivetrain included. Anything after that is just icing, but it’s probably better to track down NOS or nicely-preserved original parts from one of the many Tiger / Alpine enthusiast pages or forums. This is a classic muscle car for a great price – would you take this project on?

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Hate to admit it but we’ve started restorations from cars in worse shape than this one. Yes, if we we weren’t up to our gills in a race car build from a rust free car we’d do this one. All the basics are there and it should be saved.

    Like 7
    • Matt

      Bob, is there any way to get in touch with you?

      Like 2
    • Doyler

      Hate to admit it?

      Be proud to admit it. If you’re bringing cars back, you’re doing gods works.

      Like 8
  2. junkman Member

    This car is being talked about all over the tiger community. Missing pieces are not easy to come up with. I note missing front cross member, engine mounts, expansion tank, all front end components, tiger specific gauges, ect, ect. Then we can talk about the body, even doing it yourself (if you’re that good), more than 1000 hrs plus costs. We will see where it ends up but, I’m fairly confident the VIN will go on another car and this will be raped of what’s left and discarded. Too bad there’s no way to follow these “projects” once they’re sold.

    Like 8
  3. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Restore it, don’t trash it. Know that it’s Not for the faint of heart nor shallow of depth..Amateurs and quitters need not apply.
    This car is for someone with a focus on its potential and its life in another time..

    Like 2
  4. Claudio

    It will procreate
    It will be a vinless resto modded car AND a stolen or salvage title recycled into a clean car
    If there is easy money to be made ; you can be sure that the thiefs are there !

    Like 2
  5. Quentin McLaine

    Holy Jeepers

    Like 1
  6. steve

    The Alpine was a good car. More than a match for any contemporary British sports car. I owned a 67 in this color. I’m 6’3″ and had plenty of leg room. Then there is the Tiger…No, they didn’t ruin a perfectly good car but they sure changed it! Too much weight in the nose, not enough brakes. After about 10 miles your right foot catches fire from the exhaust heat. They ARE hoot to drive. They are, however, a toy. I believe that Jay Leno said of his that it is a hot rod plain and simple. This one requires more work than taking an Alpine and “conveting” it. Those quarter panels have been NLA for 40 years…
    Nope..gimme a clean later Alpine and Im good.

    Like 2
    • Gord

      The Tiger’s weight distribution was 51 % front to 49 % back, not exactly front end heavy. This could be improved with an aluminum intake. The worst part from a handling point of view was the reverse ackerman angle but that doesn’t show up on normal street driving.

      Like 3
  7. Steve Clinton

    Homely? I humbly disagree. I always thought this was one of the nicer sports car designs to come out of England.

    Like 5
    • Rick

      The term homely can mean different things in different corners of the English speaking world.

      https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/homely

      Like 1
      • Steve Clinton

        I stand corrected. I should have explained that here in the US, “homely” means unattractive.

        Like 1
      • Ralph

        Don’t feel bad….

        At least you didn’t confuse this with a muscle car…..

  8. randy

    We have restored a lot of Tigers and this one is going to take an owner with deep pockets & determination. Metal can be made or acquired in factory correct shapes. It’s not a novice endeavor fer sure. Raising the dead is half magic! I still enjoy a client’s smile when they first take the baby thru the gears.

    Like 4
  9. tiger66

    This car is being sold by Dennis Collins (Collins Bros Jeep, Collins Classics), who used to turn up on the Fast N’ Loud show. In a Facebook video he says the car was found near Chicago. A restoration looks like it would be a labor of love rather than a return on investment thing as Tiger values have been on a slight downward trend the last few years.

    Strictly speaking, no such thing as a “numbers-matching 260 V8” in a Tiger, but you can determine if an engine is within the correct date range.

    Like 7
  10. bill bulpitt

    Another reply to the Homely comment. I believe the later Alpine was designed by the same guy that did the 55 Thunderbird. You can see similarities and from certain angles it looks like a 3/4 size bird. As the owner of two Tigers I take great offense to the homely comment….

    Like 3
    • Chris

      I agree, they’re really nice looking cars. I’ve always liked them from the first time I discovered the Alpine/Tiger in old ’60s sports car magazines I had as a kid in the ’70s.

      Like 1
  11. Ralph

    “the most interesting muscle cars ever conceived”

    A what?

    I think someone needs to look up the definition of a muscle car again…..

    Like 1
    • Gord

      In the 60’s I don’t recall the term Muscle Car being used very often. Big block intermediates like GTO’s, SS396 Chevelle’s, Cyclone GT’s , etc, were called super cars. Nova’s, Duster’s etc were junior supercars and Mustang, Camaro, etc were pony cars.

  12. B.A. Schoen

    Chick Magnet!
    I knew this guy, Max Smart.
    A real schlemiel!
    Probably went to his high school prom alone.
    He got this government job (he never really talked about it too much).
    Well, he got a Tiger and pretty soon he’s married to this super nice looking lady!
    She was beyond a “10”, she was a “99”!

    Like 1
  13. Thomas Johns

    Have had Alpines in the past, currently have a Tiger. The Esthetics are a matter of taste. Alpines given too much short shrift, (and think what can be done w/ a 4 cyl these days,) As long as you know what yr getting into and go in w/ eyes open. Good luck to someone truly dedicated. T J

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