No matter what, American car guys will always know the Sunbeam Tiger as “that car from Get Smart”. While a stock 1965 Sunbeam Tiger may have been Maxwell Smart’s ride of choice, the boys at KAOS probably tooled around in something closer to this wild 1967 Tiger tribute. While it started out as a garden variety Alpine, the transformation is impressive. From the custom 2x3 tube chassis to the professionally-built 427 stroker, everything here has been upgraded or built from scratch with an insatiable need for speed and an utter contempt for rear tires. Completed in 2007, this fully re-engineered convertible has the kind of presence that draws a crowd within minutes and has never been shown competitively. If you’re ready to countersteer your way to a case full of trophies, take a minute to learn about this sinister Sunbeam.
Appeal starts on the outside where an even coat of Torch Red graces the familiar lines. Super Sport-style stripes run from nose to tail, accenting the base coat in a shade of silver borrowed from the BMW paint charts. The paint work is impressive but a lot of the initial “wow” factor can be attributed to the laser straight sheet metal below. A quick look down the side is all it takes to confirm that the builder knocked that section of the build out of the park! Panel gaps are measured and consistent all around and crisp reflections can be found from any angle. Should the weather turn against you, a manually operated, tan canvas top snaps into place, both protecting you from the elements and adding a nice contrast against the bright hue below.
Once you get over the initial excitement of seeing this car for the first time, there are some fun details to admire. Up front, the bumper has been removed for a more aggressive look. At either side, HID headlights cap the fenders while the big aluminum radiator peaks through the open grille. A hood scoop has been molded onto the stock hood, providing fresh air to the engine below while those silver stripes continue to lead the eye back. The windshield is devoid of any notable flaws, surrounded by well-preserved stainless and kept clean by electric windshield wipers. With the top up, the car could almost pass for a tamer version of itself but the roll cage hints at the car’s true nature from nearly every angle. The side profile is a clean one with only crisp “Tiger” badges and chrome door handles breaking up the red paint. Out back, the striped decklid slopes between peaked fenders topped with relatively long oval-shaped taillights. Sunbeam lettering tops the license plate recess while the center-mounted kill switch and “6-speed” badge serve as reminders this is no regular Tiger.
What makes a nimble 2,500 lb convertible even more fun? Why, 449 rear-wheel horsepower of course! The source of that power is a Ford 427ci Windsor V8 bolted together by the crew at Paul Anthony Race Engines. They started with a 1983-vintage cast iron four-bolt main 351W block, stroked it to 427 cubic inches, and filled it with high-quality hardware like a SCAT 4340 crank, SCAT 4340 H-beam rods, forged Probe pistons, Clevite bearings, and a Comp roller cam. Up top, a set of AFR 225 heads were sourced to frame a Trick Flow R-series intake with a Wilson 90mm throttle body and a custom Wilson-fabricated top. Thanks to 10.7:1 compression, the car happily runs on premium pump gas which is delivered by an Electromotive fuel injection system that utilizes billet fuel rails and 55lb/hr Precision Turbo injectors. Up front, the accessory drive spins little more than the water pump and chrome alternator while, opposite, an aluminum Griffin radiator pairs with a single electric fan to keep everything cool. Turn the key and firewall-mounted coil packs signal the engine to come to life while a set of long-tube headers carry spent gases out through side-exit exhaust with glasspack-style mufflers. The engine is plumbed for nitrous but the system is currently disconnected out of respect for mortality.
Slide under this Sunbeam for a closer look at the distinctly non-original chassis. The foundation is a custom 2x3 tube chassis in a fresh coat of red paint. Up front, a Chassis Works Mustang II-style front suspension incorporates chrome control arms and VariShock coilovers while a custom ladder bar setup with Moroso coilovers keep the rear in place. Since the car is relatively light, the manual rack-and-pinion was a great choice for steering – especially paired with the brawny Wilwood braking system that utilizes 13-inch rotors and six-piston calipers up front and 12-inch rotors and four-piston calipers out back. In the center of all that hardware, a stout Tremec T56 6-speed handles the power thanks to plenty of upgrades by Rockland Standard Gear. The transmission was built to handle 800 lb-ft of torque with the addition of a Quick Time steel bellhousing, RAM clutch, steel flywheel, and hydraulic slave cylinder. From there, power flows to a narrowed Ford 9-inch with a Detroit Locker and versatile 3.50 gears. At the ground level, a set of 17-inch eight-spoke wheels from Vintage Wheel Works meet the road through a combination of 195/40R17 Yokohamas and 315/35R17 Mickey Thompsons.
As you might expect, the interior is compact and mostly business. There’s a pair of leather-wrapped buckets for you and your Agent 99, complete with bright red Simpson harnesses. The safety theme continues thanks to the 5-point roll cage that wraps around the interior space. At either side, custom leather-wrapped door panels tie in with the tan leather dash pad while, below, fresh tan carpet with matching floor mats keeps the floors covered. Crawl into the driver seat for a closer look at the quick-disconnect Grant wheel which definitely comes in handy in a car this size. The dash extends both the red base and silver stripes into the cabin with a set of Auto Meter gauges keeping tabs on speed, revs, fuel, oil pressure, oil temperatures, water, temperature, and voltage. If you’re looking for items like a radio or a heater, you won’t find either here but there is a fire extinguisher and a big bottle of nitrous behind the seat if you ever want to turn the heat up a bit. Under the decklid, the trunk space is mostly consumed by a 20-gallon fuel cell nestled between the frame rails. An Optima red top also lives there, though there is still room for your shoe phone in the carpeted areas on either side.
The sale of this Sunbeam includes a set of restoration images that cover all the highlights of the build. There is also a stack of paperwork that includes engine specs, the cam card, and numerous receipts that not only provide the costs but many key part numbers as well.
Get Smart references aside, this Tiger tribute is an absolutely brutal car not meant for the faint of heart. With enough traction, the 427 stroker might be able to reverse the rotation of the earth and the chassis is stout enough to make dump trucks jealous. It’s the kind of car that not only turns heads, but gets you instant respect just for having the guts to drive it on public roads. If you’re looking for a compact thrill generator guaranteed to steal the show wherever it goes, take CONTROL of this Sunbeam today!