Hot Take: The Sunbeam Tiger

1w ago


Earlier this month, I went to what would be the last track day of the year for me. Knowing I wouldn't make it back out to the track for several months, I decided to make it a good one and hang out with some petrolheads from the local Shelby car club. I chose this club in particular because the local Viper car club was also going to be in attendance. I'm pretty sure you can see where this is going.

Well, it didn't go the way I thought it would. Unlike last year -where there were four Vipers- there wasn't a single Viper to be found. Annoying, considering I haven't had a chance to shoot a Viper on track with my new camera yet. Not one to let a relatively minor inconvenience dampen my mood beyond repair, I decided to look on the bright side of things. Which isn't very hard to do when you find out there's a Sunbeam Tiger in the paddock. Oh yes, if I wasn't going to ride in a Viper again this year, then I was definitely going to ride in what I consider to be an old cousin.

Enough babbling though, you're probably wondering what it was like to ride in. Well, let me tell you!

The Engine Punches Above Its Weight

Sunbeam Tigers came with a few engines. The 260 V8 and the 289 V8. The one I rode in had the more powerful 289 V8. Mind you, "more powerful" is sort of a relative term, because the 289 only made a modest 200 HP. Knowing the Tiger wasn't the most powerful British sports car ever, I was expecting an enjoyable but somewhat under-powered experience.

I was very, very wrong. Despite making a little over 200 HP, the Tiger felt like it had closer to 270 HP. Seriously! The throttle response and the sheer eagerness of the engine exceeded my expectations and not by a small margin. Of course, it helps that the Tiger weighs less than Thor in Endgame. In any case, the 289 V8 in the Tiger impressed me a lot.

The Handling seemed Pretty Good

Let me start by saying that we weren't going all out, so I won't say for certain whether or not the handling is good at the limit or a bit sketchy. When/If I get a Tiger for myself, I'll probably do a write-up on my thoughts of it first-hand. Seeing as I only have second-hand experience at what I'm guessing was 6/10ths, I'll tell you what I thought anyway.

I felt that grip was pretty good, body-roll wasn't that bad and the brakes did a darn good job of slowing the small V8 sports car down.

Additional Thoughts:

The exhaust note was awesome! Hearing such a muscle-carian sound come out of a small British-sports car is brilliantly refreshing, considering the sound of a four-cylinder would be expected.

That's it! Do you like Sunbeam Tigers? Do you own one? Tell us what you think down below! As always, I'll see you later.

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Comments (1)
  • Tigers can be cool, except, like Corvettes, owners seem to be unable to resist adding catalog items and doing engine swaps to up the already-sufficient horsepower into “I’m more macho that you” territory. Appearance items are also tacked on that compromise or outright ruin the lovely, understated design of these Series V bodies.

    Go to any Tiger meet, and Top Dog is usually a guy with a tricked-out 351 slotted in. I am sick of seeing replacement wood steering wheels in the wrong diameter, flashy and ugly mag wheels, terrible fender flares, and atrocious hood scoops. All are common with these cars...

    Handling can be sketchy, due to the reverse-Ackerman geometry necessitated by the intrusion of the oil pan into the area the rack should occupy, as it was moved to the front of the cross member. Take a sharp turn on a smooth concrete floor and you’ll notice the squeal that is the result.

    Some years ago, I owned a Series V Alpine. Tired of the unreliability of the 1725cc motor and marginal transmission, I finally built up a 2.8 litre Capri V6 with a C4 automatic and narrowed GT350 third member. The motor was bored out to 3.0 and fitted with a prototype B&M blower on a fabbed manifold, driven at twice crank speed. Nitrous took care of the acceleration contests. There were too many other performance and appearance mods to list here, but the car looked stock except for rolled pans and Panasport wheels.

    It gave Tigers a run for their money and handled like a dream. A tasty little rocket!

    12 days ago


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