Named for the world land speed record holder of 1926, the Sunbeam Tiger was the cheapest way to have a Carroll Shelby-engineered, small-block Ford-powered two seat British convertible in the 1960s.

Built by the Rootes Group, the Sunbeam Tiger was a leading sportscar value in the '60s. Just as the Cobra was born from the lesser AC Ace, so was the Tiger born from the lesser Sunbeam Alpine.

Shelby agreed to work his magic for $10,000 -- shoe-horning a 2bbl 260 c.i. Ford V8, a Ford T-10 transmission, and a Salisbury rear-end into a Sunbeam Alpine body. Simultaneously, the steering was upgraded to rack-and-pinion, the cooling system improved, and new exhausts fabricated and routed through the frame rails.

All this work resulted in a fabulous driver. Shelby later supplied upgrades: 4-barrel Holley carbs, Edelbrock intake manifolds, torsion bars, and mag wheels. Fully prepped cars, as they say, "went like snot" -- in 1965 Gordon Chittenden set the AHRA national record with an ET of 12.95 and a top speed of 108 mph in his Larry Reed Sportscars Tiger. (Remember this is almost 40 years ago) (Transitional Man informs me: Tigers are still raced. Tom Patton won an SCCA GT-2 title in one in 2000 -- I guess they still go like snot)

Today, a Tiger is much more affordable than its cousin, the Shelby Cobra. You can pick up a well-sorted Tiger for less than $40,000 (versus multi-$100k for the Cobras and GT350s).

You'll own a piece of history, and have a perma-grin plastered on your face every time you drive, in a way that only peculiar little British sports cars can manage.

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