Sunbeam Tiger Mark 2 sports car

A review of the Sunbeam Tiger Mark 2 sports car, covering the development, important features and technical data of this ninth model in the Sunbeam range.

In this article, I offer a nostalgic look at the Sunbeam Tiger Mark 2, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was built during the period from January to June of 1967.

The sunbeam tiger mark 2

When the Mark 1A was discontinued in December 1966, it was succeeded, a month later, by the Sunbeam Tiger Mark 2 sports car.

The main feature of this model was that of the engine, which was a drilled version of the 260 cubic inch with a longer stroke.

The modified engine, whose capacity was now 289 cubic inches (4.7 liters), developed 200 hp at 4400 rpm.

Other features of the Mark 2 include:

  • A new “egg crate” grille design, consisting of horizontal slats instead of a single horizontal bar, and was the Mark 2’s distinguishing feature.

  • The chrome strip and tiger badge on both wings have been removed and replaced with stainless steel trim.

In essence, aside from the larger engine, redesigned grille, and speed stripes, the Mark 2 sports car was very similar to the Mark 1A.

The new model, which was not available in the UK, was marketed specifically for export to the US, where it was designated the Tiger 2.

By this time, Chrysler had taken control of the Rootes Group, and the badge displaying “Powered by Ford 260” was replaced with one reading “Sunbeam V8”.

With the 289-cubic-inch engine being produced in such small numbers, the Mark 2 was probably considered the most desirable.

Although it still retained a Ford twin choke carburettor, the Mark 2 differed from its predecessors in the following ways:

  • Compression ratio increased from 8.8 to 9.3:1

  • Upgraded valve springs to overcome the problem faced by the 260 cu in engine

  • engine oil cooler

  • Dynamo was replaced by an alternator

  • A larger, hydraulically operated single dry disc clutch

  • Wider gearbox ratios

  • Rear axle redesign.

  • The chrome stripes on the side were replaced by speed stripes

  • Modified radiator grill.

  • Removing the headlight covers

The Tiger’s cramped engine bay created a number of problems, including:

  • The spark plugs on the left side were only accessible through a hole in the dashboard, covered by a rubber stopper.

  • The oil filter had to be repositioned from the bottom left of the block to the top right, behind the generator.

The Mark 2 sports car was phased out in June 1967 after only 536 units had been built.

This meant that a total of 7,085 Sunbeam Tigers, covering Mark 1, 1A and 2, were produced in almost three years.

tiger replicas

During the 1970s, many cheap, second-hand Alpines were available, allowing individuals and others to convert them into Sunbeam Tigers.

The problem, at the time, was how to recognize these conversions.

The solution was the Sunbeam Tigers International Register which contained data on every genuine Tiger, such as engine/chassis number and current ownership, where known.

In addition, the Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association used a unique method in which the body was studied to identify specific mounting techniques for a Tiger.

The result was that once a car had been verified to be an original Tiger, a non-removable permanent registration tag was attached to an inconspicuous body panel.

the end of the tiger

In 1964, the Rootes Group’s financial situation was becoming very serious.

At the same time, Chrysler was seeking to strengthen its position in Europe and so, in June 1964, it acquired a non-controlling interest in Rootes.

In 1967 the UK government allowed them to have a full majority stake.

One of the engines Rootes Group considered for the Tiger was the 3.5-liter aluminum V8 unit owned by General Motors.

However, this option was removed when Rover acquired the engine.

Following the acquisition, Chrysler’s plan was to install its own 273-cubic-inch V8 engine in the Sunbeam Tiger, as it had already been used in the Dart and Barracuda sedans.

Unfortunately, they ran into the following problems:

  • Its own 273-cubic-inch small-block V8 engine would not fit in the Tiger’s engine bay since the distributor was positioned in the rear, while the Ford V8’s was in the front.

  • His big block V8 had a distributor in the front, but it was too big

Realizing that it would be too expensive to modify the Tiger’s engine bay to accept its 273-cubic-inch V8, Chrysler decided to phase out the Tiger once the current stock of Ford V8 engines was depleted.

Meanwhile, Chrysler added its own logo to the car’s existing badging and removed all reference to Ford in its sales literature.

Consequently, the last Sunbeam Tiger Mark 3 sports car was assembled by Jensen on June 27, 1967.

the racing tiger

In 1964, three highly modified production Tigers were fitted with fastback bodies built by Lister Cars, which were famous for the Lister Jaguar, and entered the Le Mans 24-hour race, where they were timed at over 160mph.

Based on the Alpine Series 4, Carroll Shelby was asked to build a racing Tiger in the United States, which duly won the 1964 SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) Class B Pacific Coast Championship at Willow Springs, where they beat the Jaguars, Stingrays and Cobras.

The car was later reassigned to the Hollywood Sports Car dealership.

In 1965, his first race with them was the Santa Barbara Road Race, in which he took a victory in Class B.

Later that year, he finished third in the SCCA Pacific Coast Division.

It was also raced on racetracks and for two years held the American Hot Rod Association national title.

He was entered in European Rallys and took the top three positions at the 1964 Geneva Rally.

In the 1965 Monte Carlo rally, two Tigers were entered and finished in positions 4 and 11.

In 1966, after the Acropolis Rally in which it placed first in its class, the sports car was no longer entered into rough-terrain competitions, as its low-slung construction was not suited to these conditions.

This marked the end of the Sunbeam Tiger Mark 2

Perhaps this walk down memory lane could have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:

What Sunbeam sports car is it? His Favorite?

However, if this question remains unanswered, I will review in some detail, in future articles within this website, the full range of Sunbeam sports cars that were introduced in the memorable era from 1948 to 1967.

I hope you’ll join me on my nostalgic trips “down sports car memory lane.”

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *