Shelby's A.C. Cobra wasn't the only British sports car to benefit from Ford V-8 power. The Sunbeam Tiger boasted genuine Carroll Shelby involvement, and could be regarded as a sort of “Cobra junior.”
Sunbeam was the sportiest of several English brands controlled by Britain's Rootes Group. Sunbeam had run Grand Prix events and Indianapolis and built sporting road cars before the Rootes takeover in 1935. Rootes marketed touring cars under the Sunbeam-Talbot badge, but not until the '50s did the name appear on a sports car, the Sunbeam Alpine.
Seeking more performance for this trusty if timidly styled four-cylinder roadster, Rootes contracted with Shelby for a prototype with Ford small-block power. Dubbed the Tiger -- after Sunbeam's 1928 land-speed-record car -- it debuted at the 1964 New York Auto Show and soon went into production in England.
Visually similar to the concurrent Sunbeam Alpine, the Sunbeam Tiger shared the Cobra's 260-cid Ford V-8, but in milder tune than that 260-hp bomb. Still, its 164 hp was more than twice what the Alpine had and, at 9.5-seconds 0-60 mph, it was nearly twice as quick. The live-rear-axle and four-speed gear box were Ford's, but the chassis was Sunbeam Alpine's modified by Shelby with a stiffer suspension and rack-and-pinion steering. Brakes remained front discs and rear drums. Handling, roadholding, and ride comfort earned high marks, though the skinny tires and torquey V-8 added up to axle hop and poor traction off the line.