1965 Sunbeam Tiger Preproduction Prototype

Then there are those who love the full restoration process.

John, the owner of this rare Sunbeam Tiger prototype is a self-proclaimed “bad driver” and leaves driving to his wife.  Instead, he finds relief in sourcing a rare collector grade vehicle, researching the history, managing the restoration, showing the car, and then selling it.  This is the 3rd of 4 vehicles with which he has gone through this cycle over the last 2-decades.

He started with a BMW 3.0/E9, then a gold-award winning Austin Healey BJ8, then this prototype Tiger, and lastly he is in the final restoration leg of a Pebble Beach concours level Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing.

Most car people I’ve met who’ve attempted a restoration swear they will never do it again.  It took this owner 20-years of penance to find his solace.  The world is a better place with these 4 cars he saved. 

I call this Tiger build John 2:60.

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First Tiger Mk2 Development Study

Rotisserie Restoration by Marque Specialist

Authenticated by Sunbeam Tiger Association

Stock #1081

VIN # B9479xxx PP LRXFE**

ENG# 46xx F21KA**

TRN# 132xxx**

BODY# PP4x**

KEYS# RM80x/FS93x**

RAXLE# E65-36 (SA)**

DGU 55C British Reg Number (license plate)

All Numbers Matching Except Gearbox

22,000 Miles on Odometer

Less than 100 Miles on Restoration

  • Mediterranean Blue (100) on Black Leatherette
  • 4-Speed Manual Transmission
  • Clean and Clear Oregon Title
  • Certificate of Authenticity

$159,990

In the early 1960’s, F1 champion Jack Brabham reached out to the British Rootes Group competition manager to see about installing a Ford V8 engine in a Sunbeam Alpine Roadster.  Caroll Shelby was hired to get the 260 CID Ford V8 to fit.  This combination was a success.  6,450 Mark I and IA Tigers were built and only 633 Mark II Tigers with the 289 motor were built.  This example was the first preproduction prototype and design study under Rootes CB2810/3 program designation for a revised Mk II specification of the Tiger.  This first car was used to study GT-type interior upgrades and convertible storage area revisions.  There is also evidence that a new-style grille was planned.  Mechanical specifications were not altered from the Mk1, but provision for an oil cooler was made in plans of a larger engine.

This example was built on July 5th, 1965 and initially registered under the London vehicle license DGU 55C before being exported to the North America in 1966 by Rootes’ main dealership in Piccadilly.  Based on the original Vin plate (C6) it was designated for Canada.

This Tiger started as a Mk I that was the very first car built to Mk IA specifications.  This included a GT interior and revised from valance.  The revision to the front valance was the elimination of the starter tube reinforcement box section and installation of a simple vertical stay in the center between the bottom of the valance and the shelf that the grille sits on.  This would allow for the future fitment of an oil cooler in the Mk II production.  This is the very first car built in the development program.

We are not sure of the early ownership history except for the fact that it was in Canada up until recently.  We do know it was sold to a Mr. Bill Matson in 1997.   Matson started an amateur restoration but never got very far.  Matson passed away around 2013 and the family sold the car to Ron Stein and his brother.  Stein began doing research for a proper restoration but soon realized he didn’t have the time or space.  So, in summer of 2016, he sold the car to the current west coast U.S. owner who imported the car and had it shipped directly to Sean Johnson of the Austin Healer in Okanogan, Washington for a full restoration.

Sean is a highly recognized and accomplished restorer of Austin Healeys and invested the same level of detail and research into this Tiger restoration.  Over the last 15-20 years he has restored several Tigers to a high level.

After three years of a full rotisserie restoration (see pics) and considerable research, this important Tiger was completed and accepted for display at the 2019 Quail Motorsport Gathering during Monterey car week.  Prior to that, the car was trailered over 150 miles to be inspected and authenticated by the Sunbeam Tiger Owner’s Association (certificate included).  They found it to be the first of two prototypes built as discovered in the Rootes Group factory log books (see pic).  Sunbeam Tiger Owners Club board member and historian, Graham Vickery from Europe, was also instrumental in discovering the history of this Tiger.

Here are some key points of the restoration and details on this prototype as described by Sean Johnson in recent communications:

“All of the bolts are original to the car.  I had them all stripped and re-zinc plated.  They went back into the same holes they came out of.  I spent a couple of weeks decoding the parts books so that I could ensure that all of the screws, washers, lock-washers, etc are also 100% correct for specification and finish.”

“The vinyl material that I gave [the owner] (green) was the original top well vinyl (open the trunk and look forward).  Normally cars with the pebble finish vinyl (which is part of the specification of the GT interior–MK1A) would have a top well panel made of matching pebble grain vinyl.  As this was the very first car with a GT interior they obviously hadn’t finalized this aspect yet and the car was fit with a smooth grain top well.  I included the original to document why I fit the smooth grain top well in the restoration.  The original color was black.  The green is overspray from the crappy paint job that had been inflicted on the car prior to Ron Stein’s purchase.  I also included the original valve cover with the original engine number sticker as that establishes I just didn’t take the info off of the vin tag.  It was part of the original identity/DNA and I didn’t want it lost.”

“There is also a COMPLETE set of original tools in an original tool pouch (to the left of the spare tire).  People are paying ridiculous amounts of money for these tools.  Particularly hard to find is the spark plug socket and it’s tommy bar.  A complete set of tools is probably worth a couple thou’.  You will also note that there is a label on the lifting jack…   I went to some effort to have these made, just for this car.   The steering wheel is an unrestored original…   these sell for several thousand when they come up.  I hunted for a year for the correct battery terminals so I could make accurate replacement cables.   I get a fortune for these on eBay!”

“There is one other anomalous stamping  on the vin plate.  You will notice just before the engine number entry in a slightly smaller font, “C6” is stamped.    This was an internal designator that specified that the car was headed to Canada.  I have been told by experts that this also designated that the car had a special purpose as a demonstrator/pre-production show example… The bottom line is the color code.  100 being Mediterranean Blue.  I did find original examples of this on the car in a number of places.  That’s how I was able to get a formula for the color that’s back on the car now.”

“Normal production Tigers also have a body number plate known as a “JAL” tag.  These are mounted inboard of the vin tag at the back edge of the scuttle.  This car does NOT have a JAL tag as it was not built on the production assembly line.  This is confirmed in the ledger.  This car was given the designation of P.P.47 (the sister car is P.P.49).  if you look on the driver’s door jamb near the base you will see the identity plate with this designation.  This location for a body tag is unique to this car.”

“The hardtop that comes with the car is an original factory hardtop.  However, it’s not original to the car.  This car most probably was not delivered with one.  It is a nice option to have though.  Restored factory hardtops are worth $5K or more.  On normal Tigers, they were ALWAYS black.   Alpines could have color matched hardtops.   Factory rally Tigers often had white hardtops.”  

As you can see by the care and details that went into the restoration of this example, the end results are stunning.  This is not an over-restored car, but rather restored to as the day it was delivered new from the factory.  Details such as the correct paint shade to the exact matching of materials and everything in between are evident.

The exterior looks fresh with no signs of use.  There are no chips or dents.  The glass is original and wears its factory markings.  As you would expect, there are some light rash and scratches from being 52-years old.  All the bright work, deco trim, and rubber are either new or restored.  The wheels are factory original wheels restored with fresh trim rings and hubcaps.  They are wearing new tires including the spare.

The interior looks equally as nice.  Everything is either restored or new.  The rare original steering wheel is in excellent condition.  All the gauges work properly as well as lights.  The trunk and engine bay are extremely tidy and correct.

The car starts easily and the V8 produces a wonderful rumble.  It holds a smooth idle with no smoking.  Everything feels tight and new.  It drives smooth and straight.  The brakes have a decent feel to them and the handling is proper for this era.  The power is strong in this light chassis.  This example would be wonderful for exclusive vintage touring events or showing at high level concours.

This Tiger comes with two sets of keys, original/rare tool kit, original jack, spare wheel/tire, original valve cover with original engine number stampings, original vin plate, display awards from the Quail Motorsport Gathering, Quail catalog, Certificate of Authenticity, copy of factory pre-production log book, and car cover.

**Note: VIN and other numbers withheld to protect against fraud.  All numbers including VIN, Engine, and color will be provided to serious buyers.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Paul at 714-335-4911 or paul@autokennel.com

This vehicle is sold “as-is” with no warranty, written or implied. In some cases, the vehicle does have the remaining factory warranty still in place and will be described above if that is the case. All taxes and fees are the responsibility of the buyer and are not included in the listed price. All vehicle sales will require a $170 administration fee. The vehicle listed is described to the best of our ability. The information is based on our own research and statements made to us by the previous owner(s). To the best of our knowledge, the above information is accurate. We are not responsible for errors in our description of options or any other details. The above-mentioned vehicle is used and can be expected to show some wear and tear. It is not a brand new vehicle. We do welcome all local pre-purchase inspections on vehicles in order to verify condition.

Special Note

We appreciate the countless calls from brokers and dealers. As much as we would love to quickly “wholesale” this car to industry partners so they can make a quick profit, the car is on consignment (as are all of our offerings) and the owners have the final say.

If you have actually taken the time to read this far in our detailed description, I can’t imagine there are any questions you may have. However, if there is something I missed or you would prefer to hear the warm sound of a human voice (mine) reiterating the research I’ve provided above, I would be happy to help.

If you put our company name in Google (AutoKennel®) you will see that we have been a long-time part of the Porsche community and have worked extremely hard to earn the positive reputation you will find. Feel free to reach out to our local PCA chapter (www.pcaocr.org) and the board members are familiar with us. Most in the club have known us for most of our 25-year membership involvement. Of course, if you would like more references, you will find countless testimonials on our website as well.

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