1965 Sunbeam Tiger: Our Shed

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger
1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger 1965 Sunbeam Tiger

Uncle Phil invests in a peachy Sunbeam Tiger, a car that's stamped with Carroll Shelby's unmistakable imprimatur...

1965 Sunbeam Tiger: Our Shed
Uncle Phil's Sunbeam Tiger


1965 Sunbeam Tiger

Uncle Phil was looking pretty damned pleased with himself, which is usually a sign that he’s just got away with something Mrs Phil won’t approve of, or he’s bought a car. Sometimes it’s the same thing.

Then with a tissue-thin attempt at not looking smug, he invited us out for a squiz – yep, he’s finally got his scone-grabbers on a Sunbeam Tiger. Lucky bastard.

Making the situation worse is the thing’s a gem. It’s dead straight, looks complete and sounds glorious when the Yankee V8 (yep, a V8!) in the snout is fired up.

It’s a 1965 model that’s done a half lap of the globe. Assembled by Jensen in the UK, it was delivered to a customer in the USA, before (eventually) being shipped from Nevada to Oz. And now it’s living with Uncle Phil.

Why a Tiger? "Well, they’re known as the poor man’s Cobra," explains Mr P, "And, since I can’t afford the one-point-three mil for a Cobra, this is the next best choice."

This car and the AC Cobra have a common heritage: they’re English platforms with a big bent-eight shoe-horned into the front thanks to the considerable expertise of Carroll Shelby.

There were two versions of the Tiger made: the first with a 260ci engine and the second with its bigger Ford sibling, the 289. Both ran a four-speed top-loader manual gearbox.

When Phil first started looking for one, a little over four years ago, you could get a reasonable example in the USA (which was always the intended market) for around US$20,000. "Then they seemed to go to $35,000 overnight," he says, "Since then, they’ve crept up steadily. So now you’ll pay $75-85,000 for one."

Aussie prices are lagging behind, which made buying one here a pretty canny decision.

So far it’s required typical old car stuff: a full service, clean and adjust the Holley 650 Vac Secondary carb, tidy up the exhaust and fix up the leaks from the rack and pinion boots. The paint looks fine to us, but the world’s fussiest man has decided to get the bonnet resprayed.

It did rather dramatically stop in a freeway tunnel recently, which caused some alarming phone calls and the development of a few new swear words. The culprit was an overheating ignition coil, in turn caused by poor contacts at the ignition switch. Then there was the time he ran out of fuel (again on the freeway) because he hadn’t got around to fixing the fuel gauge. But we prefer not to talk about that…

Now it is running properly, the owner is walking around with a giant grin on his dial. Hardly surprising, since the Tiger goes like the proverbial cut cat and is halfway decent in the handling department.

We’re about to let young John Bowe loose in it, so look for a future Past Blast yarn on the car.



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