May 4, 2015 By Mike Lee
Last updated on May 4, 2015

Sunbeam Tiger LogoBrief History About Sunbeam

Sunbeam was founded in 1888 in England by John Marston. John had actually been manufacturing bicycles since 1877 which had the Sunbeam name, he also later started manufacturing motorcycles. By the end of the 19th century he started to experiment with cars and by 1901 built the first Sunbeam car.

Quite early on Sunbeam had an interest in motorsport and they built a car for participation of the land speed record.

During WW1 they built aircraft engines, motorcycles, trucks, and ambulances. After WW1 and in 1919 Sunbeam bought Talbot. Speed records were also gained with more cars being built for this purpose.

Due to the great depression in the 1930’s Sunbeam struggled and in 1935 the company went into receivership and was then bought by the Rootes Group, creating Sunbeam-Talbot in 1938. The Rootes Group also had under its wings Hillman, Humber, Singer, Commer and Karrier.

During WW2 they built aircraft, various military vehicles and buses. They then returned to car manufacturing after the war, introducing the Sunbeam Alpine in 1953, entering it into numerous rally races.

In the early 60’s Sunbeam approached Carroll Shelby to help with the development of a new car, which later turned out to be the 1964 Sunbeam Tiger. They asked Carroll to help, as they were impressed with the development of the AC Cobra and wanted a small car of their own with a V8. The Tiger was fitted with the Ford 4.2 litre V8 engine and then Racing versions of the Tigers were let loose in many race events, including drag racing.

With financial issues appearing in the mid-late 60’s, Chrysler bought a substantial share in the company, having already purchased Simca previously. However Chryslers’ re-organisation of the business and model line-up didn’t work out, eventually seeing the Sunbeam brand disappear by 1976, although there was (in name only) a Chrysler Sunbeam until the early 80’s.

Sunbeam Tiger
Tiger 1 (1964-1966) & Tiger 2 (1967-1968)