The Sunbeam Tiger (Alpine 260) is a high performance V8 version of the Sunbeam Alpine produced by Rootes.
Whilst the name 'Alpine 260' was the name Rootes put on the programme for the New York Auto Show in April '64, 'Sunbeam Tiger' had been decided on by the time the show opened. However, the name Tiger could not be used in certain European countries (conflicted with Panhard Tigre in France and Messerschmidt Tiger in Germany) and it was decided along with Simca that the Tiger should be launched on the European market as the 'Alpine 260'. The project began in 1962, when racing driver and Formula One champion Jack Brabham went to the Rootes competition manager with the idea of fitting the Alpine, which was normally powered by small-displacement four-cylinder engines, with a larger Ford V-8 powerplant.
Realizing that the Alpine needed more power to compete successfully in the U.S., Rootes approved the conversion, which was designed in part by Carroll Shelby, who had carried out a similar V8 conversion on the AC Cobra. The Tiger was often referred to as Carroll Shelby’s other pioneer "hybrid". Although Shelby hoped to be given a contract to produce the Tiger in America, Rootes was unhappy about Carroll’s close relationship with Ford, so final assembly was done at Jensen’s West Bromwich plant in England. Carroll was paid an undisclosed royalty for every Tiger built. The early Tigers featured:
- 260cu inch Ford V8 produced 164 BHP
- Rack and pinion steering,
- Stiffer springs,
- four speed transmission