Section IV: A Tiger By The Tail
Once you have found a car there are a number of steps that you should take outside of the steps normally taken when purchasing a collector car. These steps are necessary because of the inexact production information available for the Tiger.
- What model are you looking at? ( Mark I, Mark IA or Mark II)
This may seem like a dumb question but not all '65's are Mark I, '66 are Mark IA and '67 are Mark II. There is some overlap with models and features. It is important to know what model you are looking at in order to verify that it has all of the correct parts.
- Is this car a "known car"?
Have other Tiger owners seen this car, or know the owner? Does it have a good or bad history? This question is easily solved by emailing the TIROST Registry or sending out an email to the "Tiger Mailing List". If nothing is known of this car then you will most likely need a professional inspection.
- Do the "numbers" match?
The VIN and JAL tags for a Tiger are located on the cowl just inside the hood. The second location for the numbers is on the right side valve cover. These numbers should match one another for both VIN, JAL and Engine #. BE AWARE: Both plates are easy to remove and replace. This method of authentification is helpful but not definitive to the cars authenticity or features. This is where all of that required reading at the start of the guide pays off. It will help you to identify if the correct engine is in the car along with a number of other tell tale items.
Once you get the numbers, make sure to contact the TIROST registery to find out more information about the car.
- Has the car been significantly modified?
If your intention is to restore the car then take a close look at the car for major alterations. Tiger owners are notorious doodlers when it comes to modifying their Tigers. Modification of body and engines are most common. Also be aware that some parts are much harder to find than others.
If you are looking at a Mark I or Mark IA, most parts will be found relatively easy and inexpensively. There were over 6,000 of these two models produced and most of the parts interchangable. If you are looking at a Mark II watch out for missing parts because they can really add up. For instance, the chrome trim around the wheel wells will run $1,000, the grill another $1,000 and the gauges are all unique to this model. There were arround 500 made and parts are scarce.
On the positive side, be sure to study the LAT Catalog for rare parts on the Tiger you are assessing. There are quite a few options that can turn an avery looking deal into a good buy.
- Has the car been TACed?
The largest authentification organization for Tigers is STOA with their (TAC) Tiger Authentification Certification. This certification is registered with STOA and will tell you that three certified TAC inspectors have looked at the car and determined that it has all of the features consistant with the Sunbeam Tiger production process. This certification does not mean that the car was not modified but assures the purchaser that even under the shag carpet and 5ft rear wing is an original Sunbeam Tiger and not an Alpine conversion. Having a TAC inspected car is a real bonus and could increase the purchase price significantly.
Section V: The UGLY Truth "Algers" or "Tipines"
This topic is a hot button issue in the Tiger community. For those who are new to the community here it is in a nut shell. Tigers and Alpines share many features and components, much of which bolts on to the body. To the uneducated, these cars will look nearly identical outside of the rumbline V8 and a few plastic logos. This confusion along with a price disparity of 10x between the Tiger and Alpine has made in the past the creation on a Tiger from an Alpine a potentially lucrative endevour. This is a very similiar problem to the one that plagues Shelby Mustangs.
In all fairness, some of these transformations were done 10-20 years ago in order to "save" Tigers which had rusted out with "fresher" Alpine donor bodies. The problem is that Tiger and Alpine bodies are not identical and in order to create this transformation the Alpine had to beaten into submission to accept the many Tiger elements. Also many of these conversions transferred the Tiger VIN tags over to their Alpine donor. This is illegal in all 50 states but it has happened on more than one occasion.
The truth be told, 99% of these conversions can easily be identified by someone familiar with Tigers. These "crossover" vehicles are usually purchased by individuals who have not done their homework of had their car inspected properly. The problem is that if they do find out.. do they continue with the deception and sell it as a Tiger or identify it and possibly loose 70% of the purchase price of their car. It is a tough decision for some and not for others.
Don't go into Tiger ownership without someone knowledgeable helping you in the process. There are plenty of great owners and organizations out there to help you find the right tiger for you and to become a part of the family. Good Luck.