Sunbeam Tiger Hardtops & Rally Cars

Recently I have made a couple of posts about the Sunbeam Tiger cars.  I was looking at some other Sunbeam Tigers that I have seen before when I realized that I should have shown some photos of these cars when fitted with the available hardtop.  These hardtops were available for street cars and were required for the Sunbeam Tiger rally cars.  The Sunbeam Tiger Mk. I shown below with the hardtop was seen at the 2013 Lime Rock Historic Festival.

Sunbeam Tiger Mk 1 1966 (1)

Sunbeam Tiger Mk. I With Hardtop Fitted

Evidently there were several after-market manufacturers of the hardtops for the Sunbeam Tigers and Alpines.  To me they are all similar, but no doubt there are some small differences between them.

Sunbean Tiger Mk 1 1966 (5)

This Hardtop Looks Like It Is Permanently Attached

One of the original Rootes Works Sunbeam Tiger rally team cars is owned by Jeremy Holden in the UK.  This particular car competed in the Monte Car Rally and other major rallies in the mid-1960s.  Even though the car has an English registration number, the car has left-hand drive.  This car is in great shape and has just received a complete rebuild and fitted with the latest rally equipment such as the GaugePilot.  As can be seen, this car has a hardtop as all rally cars in that era were required to be fitted with a hardtop.

Sunbeam Tiger Rally (1)

A Rootes Works Team Sunbeam Tiger Rally Car 

Several months ago Jeremy competed in the Tour Britannia rally event in Ireland with the Sunbeam Tiger rally car as shown below.  Note how the front-hinged hood is slightly open at the back.  Over the years I have been told by several Sunbeam Tiger owners that overheating can be an issue with these cars when driven with some vigor.  I assume that the hood is raised slightly to help allow some heat to escape from the engine bay.

Sunbeam Tiger Rally (2)

Sunbeam Tiger Rally Car In The 2015 Tour Britannia Rally In Ireland

The hardtop is a great way to extend the season for these sports cars and I know from my recently departed MGB, which I had fitted with a hardtop for all season daily driving to the train station, that winter driving was much better with the hardtop.  Also, removing the convertible top from the car can create substantially more storage space in these cars behind the seats.

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6 Responses to Sunbeam Tiger Hardtops & Rally Cars

  1. Jay Nemeth-Johannes says:

    The Alpine at least was offered for years with a choice of either a soft top or a factory hardtop. I know the style changed a bit over the years when they went from series 2 to series 3. Those could be the difference you are seeing.

  2. James O'Brien says:

    Did the works Tigers ever compete on the Circuit of Ireland ?

    • Hi James,
      I have no information on hand showing that Sunbeam entered their Tigers into the Circuit of Ireland. Sunbeam did enter other models, like the Rapier, in the Circuit of Ireland and did well, but I don’t think that works entered Tiger cars competed in this event. Other private Tigers might have entered the event or perhaps even former works Tigers that went into private hands may have competed there in their post-works life.
      The former works Tigers are still being rallied today. One former works Tiger competed earlier this year in the Tour of Ireland and the same car is entered into the 2016 Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.
      Steve McKelvie

      • James O'Brien says:

        Thanks Stevie,
        Its just that I am putting together a display of 1/43 scale model rally cars from Circuit of Ireland rallies from the past and I did not want to leave the Tiger out if it had been entered. Information from the 1960’s and previous is very difficult to come by. Thanks for the swift reply. I did manage to find a photo on forum-auto of Rosemary Smith in what I assume was a private Tiger on the 1962 Circuit and Eyre Maunsell had one on the 1964 event.
        Thanks again

      • Hi James,
        Thanks for helping me on this. In the book I have about the works Rootes team, Eyre Maunsel’s name does not show up in the index, so I conclude that he must have been a private entrant. Rosemary Smith is interesting, apparently she had won the Ladies Cup at the Circuit of Ireland before she became an official works driver for Rootes. However Sunbeam Tigers were not made until 1964, so it might be hard to tell with an old grainy black & white photo, but it is more likely that Rosemary Smith was driving a Sunbeam Alpine rather than a Tiger in 1962.
        Steve McKelvie

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