Just like the AC Cobra, the original Sunbeam Tiger was developed by none other than motoring legend Carroll Shelby, although he only did the initial engineering phase. The parent company, Rootes, took over the rest. The 1964 Sunbeam Tiger was an attempt at making the the Sunbeam Alpine less… girly, for lack of a better term. It was basically the same car, except that instead of a little four-cylinder, it had a big Ford V8, instead. Of course, you can’t replace a small engine with a large one without some serious re-engineering, so while the Alpine and Tiger looked almost the same from the outside, they were radically different cars on the inside. The fact that the Tiger was developed so quickly led to some issues, particularly with the direction and the rear suspension, which wasn’t really up to the task of dealing with all that torque and power.
The Tiger’s mechanical issues did not seem to be a problem with buyers, particularly in the US, where they just lapped it up. The Tiger Mk2, the more powerful of the models, sported a 4.7-liter V8 engine, borrowed from the Mustang, which produced a healthy 200 horsepower. With this many ponies under the hood, the Tiger could reach a top speed of 125 miles per hour, and accelerate to 60 in a hair over 7 seconds.
These aren’t exactly figures to beat the AC Cobra 427, but they’re still pretty impressive.
Unfortunately for the Sunbeam Tiger, Chrysler purchased a controlling interest in Rootes in 1967, and having one of their cars powered by an enemy motor, the Ford V8, simply wasn’t going to work. They put the ax in the Tiger quickly enough, as 1967 was its last production year.