Unrestored Black Plate: 1965 Sunbeam Tiger

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The listing for this 1965 Sunbeam Tiger is short and to the point, but if the seller’s words are to be accepted as gospel truth, there’s really not much to say. This is a claimed survivor-grade Tiger, with a factory hardtop and numbers-matching drivetrain that was recently rebuilt. It’s up for grabs here on eBay where bidding is over $26K with five days left in the auction.

The seller says the interior is unrestored, which is almost too good to be true. The Tiger is the hot ticket – the one to buy – if you’re on the hunt for a limited production roadster with excellent performance pedigree. The low-powered Sunbeam Alpine is available in droves, comparatively, and Tigers with their numbers-matching Ford-sourced V8 mill are hugely scarce.

The allure of original California black plates won’t subside anytime soon, and now that the state is offering black plates as a reproduction, cars with the original tags seem so much more special than previously thought. It doesn’t really add anything to the Tiger’s value as a running/driving sports car, but it does factor into the overall presentation as a car that was used carefully and loved by longtime owners.

The Tiger has been resprayed once before, with the seller claiming it happened early in its life. The original drivetrain has been rebuilt, according to the listing, along with “…all mechanical systems.” Throughout its life, great care has been taken to keep this Tiger is a highly preserved state, and the auction results will likely pay dividends to the seller if the right bidders are in the room.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Tooyoung4heyday Tooyoung4heydayMember

    Small car + V8 power….. nuff said.

    Like 4
    • Frank Griegorian

      I will never own a tiger for one simple reason …if the motor (265 thru 302 cu inches V-8) ever needs to be removed it must be removed from underneigth the car. Thus the entire front suspension be removed to perform this feat ….no thank you !!!!

      Like 0
      • philthyphil

        not hard at all done it twice…..no 265 …thats a chevy motor

        Like 4
    • Dave

      In its day it was a poor man’s Cobra. They were every bit as fast as the small block Cobras.

      Like 0
  2. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Currently bid to $26,600. Would not surprise me if it went to double that in order to be sold. But:

    It depends on how collectors really view the car. The respray was a color change from green, and not that great. So much of the rubber and fabric seal material is in rough shape or completely gone. I call BS on the “unrestored” claim, the seats have certainly been redone, and the carpet doesn’t appear to be original either. This car screams for a very knowledgeable person’s inspection…… Verify, verify, verify!

    Of course the wheels are more modern, and as for the “complete mechanical restoration” I’d want to see proper receipts for all of it. Six mediocre photographs for a car which has the rabid following that a Tiger does? None of the underside? WEAK. Brave bidders, just to get it to this level.

    Like 18
    • Haig Haleblian

      Color code 86 is BRG. But aren’t those rare LAT wheels? I used to own a very nice Tiger for years. I thought it was a pretty car that made all the right sounds. However, best driven on cool days for all the engine heat pouring into the cabin. Ill handling for all the weight up front and of course 60’s British “quality”. Liked the car, but I don’t miss it either.

      Like 9
      • Gord

        The lat wheels have a protruding hub cast into them that the 3 bar spinner attaches too. These may be made by the same company (Hands Company), as they were available in the aftermarket.

        Like 3
      • Russell

        Weight distribution is actually very close to 50 50, the heavy feeling in the steering is because of the steering rack being forward of the front wheels resulting in reverse Ackerman angles and too often blamed on the heavy V8. Having owned 3 Tigers they’re not as fast as people think. 165 hp, 2 barrel, and a 2:88 diff resulted in 0-60 times of over 9 seconds. A very reliable car which I loved back in the day but don’t miss at all anymore. They become fun when you run around 300 hp, change the gearing, and add limited slip. The close ratio gear box was an added bonus.

        Like 6
  3. span ky

    BS claims on originality. Get good alpine and make your own..

    Like 1
  4. MountInwoodie

    To think I drove one of these as a parts runner for a local garage! Practically ripped the rear end out burning rubber from a stoplight every time I drove it. What I remember was it had a really stiff clutch or my 17 year old leg was really weak.

    Like 1
  5. HoA Howard AMember

    Probably one of the nicest black cars I’ve seen. I don’t think the seller knows a lot about the car. Only 3 bids on one of the most sought after sports cars ever, and “only” up to $26,600, for this car? I’ve never seen one this”cheap”, as most go for over $100g’s. Something doesn’t sound right here.

    Like 2
  6. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I like this. Can understand the sceptics but sometimes, just sometimes that unicorn is found.

    Like 2
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      He looks like he is a bit of a trader looking at his feedback on ebay.
      Note a not so good (but still positive) feedback for not as described previously sold Tiger although it does say he rectified. We of course also know how some buyers can be!

      Like 3
  7. RobsGT

    Are those blocks propping the hood for release of hot air a common remedy for keeping the engine cool? …or was I not supposed to notice?

    Like 0
  8. John Green

    I thought black was never available from the factory?

    Like 0
  9. healeydays

    In 2002 I had a Tiger owner approach me at a British car show and after talking for awhile, he asked if I might be interested in swapping his restored Tiger for my 59 Austin Healey 3000 if he added a few dollars to even it out. I turned him down.

    I kick myself to this day…

    Like 8
  10. DolphinMember

    I have a different take on the Tiger than a lot of Tiger fans. I am talking about the Series 1 here. The Series 2 was significantly improved, but there were far fewer S2s made than S1s.

    From my experience driving a S1 car (Ford 260 c.i. V8, 2 barrel carb) I thought it sounded terrific, but it was slow.

    My comparisons were 2 cars that I owned….a Tri Carb Healey 3000, and a 1970 240Z. Both of those cars could have run rings around the S1 Tiger.

    The S2 was a significantly improved performer, but I never drove one, so can’t compare it to the S1 or the other cars I have owned.

    Unfortunately the S2 was ended because Chrysler bought Sunbeam and couldn’t have a car with a Ford engine in their lineup. And the distributor in the Chrysler V8 was at the back, so couldn’t fit in the Tiger’s engine bay = the end of the Tiger.

    Like 7
    • Russell

      Dolphin, the Alpines were series 2, 3, 4 etc. The Tigers were Mk1, Mk1A, and MkII.

      Like 1
      • DolphinMember

        you’re right! I knew that, but my excuse is brain fade—-the human counterpart to when your brakes aren’t up to the job because of wear and tear, overuse, or just plain old age.

        Like 0
  11. Gaspumpchas

    Like daydream said, going over the underside with a fine tooth comb is a must. Among other things, I have heard of the control arms on these collapsing- think these were factory sunbeam, the added weight of the v8 has ’em screamin’ for mercy. Anyway, all I have seen here in the rust belt is extremely Rotten Tigers for 20k and up. if its the real deal, good luck to the new owner!! wonder what the reserve is???


    Like 0
  12. Lance Nord

    How can “unrestored” be claimed if the drivetrain has been rebuilt and the interior fabric has been replaced?

    Like 3
    • Haig Haleblian

      and a color change

      Like 3
  13. Wrong Way

    I almost bid on this gem! I had to stop myself because I have too much on my plate now! Too bad for me, I have always wanted one! There will be others! :-)

    Like 1
  14. pwtiger

    I’m looking at the picture on Ebay of the VIN tag, what is the cut and partial weld that looks fresh? Was the cowl panel that holds the tag been replaced? It says CA black plates but was it registered in VA? If it was there would be no way to bring it back to CA and use those plates.

    Like 0
  15. Healeymonster

    Most Tiger owners like myself mod our cars to make them driveable. Mk1s were slow but easily modified. Mine has a k code 289 with willwoods all around. Modified the suspension and cooling system. All this makes for a non original car but oh so much more of a driver friendly car.

    Like 9
  16. Beatnik Bedouin

    Those Black CA plates predate the car, having been issued in 1963, when the Yellow-on-Black plates (1956-62) were handed in for the then new, Black-on-Yellow plates that were used until the end of 1969.

    California has/had a ‘year of manufacture’ program where enthusiasts could install and use license plates from the era of their particular vehicle’s manufacture.

    Tune-ups on Tigers are always interesting, with the rear spark plugs accessible via ports under the dash – great if you’re a contortionist. Also there was some weakness in the upper A-arms, due to the added weight of the V8.

    Some of the guys have already raised concerns about this example – caveat emptor.

    Carroll Shelby used to sell Tigers (and Sunbeam-badged Imps!) alongside Cobras and GT 350s at his dealership on La Brea Ave in Los Angeles, back then.

    Like 3
    • Healeymonster

      The whole tiger spark plug fiasco was relevant in the 60s. But ask any modern car mechanic to change them and they would call it a gravy job compared to modern machines that have zero access without removal of upper plenums and such. I can get to all eight of my tiger without use of the access holes in the bulk head. Any front wheel drive car with a v6 will give you trouble getting at the rear bank. We had many come into my shop with a misfire at 120k miles. The front plugs were changed but the rears were skipped.

      Like 2
  17. Ed Wayne

    I think that it is very unlikely that those CA black plates were issued to this car in 1965. 1965 should be a Q or R as the first letter. A through D and beyond where used up early in 1963 as the earlier gold and black plates issued in 1956 were required to be turned in for the new 63 plates.
    @ Howard A. how many Tigers have you seen sell for more than $100K? Perhaps a hand full or less.

    Like 1
  18. John

    I had an Alpine. I always wanted a Tiger. I finally drove one. It was like comparing an AH3000 to a Sprite. Both Sunbeams were good cars, but very different in spite of their similar looks. Both had the same issue with metallurgy in their bodies. Neither had a comfortable seating position. I drove my Alpine to Snowmass in 1989 or so from Washington DC. There were what seemed like a thousand Alpines/Tigers running around. It was chaos. It was wonderful. I would never do that again. I seem to remember someone saying that the Tigers were good for about 150 miles on a tank of gas – apparently the Tigers and Alpines used the same tank.

    Like 1
  19. John

    Unsafe at any speed.

    Like 1
  20. stillrunners

    Chrysler did sell them for awhile with the Ford engine…have a Chrysler dealer brochure of the Tiger in my collection…I always wanted one….so I had some Alpine’s for awhile.

    Like 0
  21. dennes mather mather

    what happen to tigers after Chrsler bought them out????

    Like 0
  22. Doug Bohm

    He actually could use those plates, but only as a YOM plate. Assuming the letters/numbers are “available “ and that they’re the correct plate for 1965. But in the strictness of definition, no, the car will never be an original black plate car. That is tightly defined as an original owner and a car that has never been registered outside of California. Also my two cents. If I had a $100k to spend on a sports car, no brainer. Porsche 356.

    Like 0
  23. John Stannard

    Loved these ever since Maxwell Smart had what I am told was a red ’65 Tiger 1 in the first couple of series. Authenticity is always problematic. Here the bones look the goods

    Like 0

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