When enthusiasts speak of a British-designed sportscar re-engineered by Carroll Shelby, powered by a Ford V-8, and boasting an enviable racing record throughout the 1960’s, most have visions of a certain serpent-themed roadster. But there’s a feline-monikered machine that also fits that descriptor—the Sunbeam Tiger. The 4-cylinder Sunbeam Alpine, launched in 1959, quickly earned a solid performance reputation on and off the track for its handling and braking, but within just a few years it fell behind class competitors in the horsepower department. Shelby’s Cobra was tearing up racecourses and grabbing headlines, and so Sunbeam parent company Rootes reached out to Shelby to work similar magic on the Alpine. Shelby did the engineering and built the official prototype.
The main components in the conversion consisted of the Ford 260ci engine and Toploader 4-speed transmission, a Salisbury rear axle, a switch to rack-and-pinion steering, and an upgraded cooling system. Mk I cars (1964-65) had removable metal hardtops and round body panel corners with lead-filled seams. Mk IA cars (late’65-66) were mechanically identical, but switched to square-edged panels without lead, and added a folding vinyl convertible top in place of the hardtop. For the final year of 1967, Mk II Tigers upgraded to a 289ci V-8 and can be visually distinguished by an egg crate grille design.
Mark I cars in 1964 were only available in Left-Hand Drive (LHD) as the Tiger was intended primarily for export to North America where development had originally been commissioned. However, come January 1965 the first Right-Hand Drive (RHD) cars became available for UK and similar markets. Automodello has faithfully reproduced both the LHD and RHD editions including the nuances that each market demands.
In the spirit of small-volume British-American hybrid sportscars, Automodello™ brings the Sunbeam Tiger Mark I RHD to collectors in precision 1:43 with a removable hardtop for maximum display versatility.