Sunbeam had its beginnings in 1877, building bicycles at its Sunbeamland Cycle Factory. By the turn of the century, Sunbeam was producing its first automobiles, which listed horsepower in the single digits. Everyone has to start somewhere, however, and by 1959, Sunbeam was still around (albeit partnered with the Rootes Group).
A long way from that first 3-horsepower machine, 1959 saw the Sunbeam Alpine. Actually the second Sunbeam model to use the Alpine name, the name was the only thing it shared with its predecessor. The car was a success, receiving significant upgrades each model year. The performance took a leap forward with the 1962 Sunbeam Le Mans Alpine, with an engine tweaked to match the specs from the previous year’s Le Mans winner.
A few years down the road, Sunbeam tapped a legend. Having seen the amazing results of Carroll Shelby’s fusion of a Ford engine with an A.C. body (the AC Shelby-Cobra), Sunbeam hired Shelby to do the same with the Alpine’s chassis. Shelby got to work, and the Sunbeam Tiger was born. Unfortunately, politics stood in the Tiger’s way. Despite incredible performance, shortly after the Tiger’s introduction, Sunbeam was bought by Chrysler, and Chrysler was uneasy about selling a car with a Ford engine. After an unsuccessful attempt to replace the Ford engine with one of Chrysler’s own, the model was discontinued.
Find out the rest of the Sunbeam story in the pages that follow. Included are detailed profiles of the cars, including specs and photographs.