LAT & Dealer Options
Owning a Sunbeam Tiger is your ticket to becoming a part of the Tiger community.
Without club membership Tiger ownership is a lonely place with few local
enthusiasts. A club fills the void for information and events.
Join a Tiger club and become a part of our happy family.
We do not have access to pictures of ALL of the factory LAT options, as can be seen. Any individual contributions, in JPEG or GIF form would be appreciated. If this is not convenient, we can scan a good photo and return it.
Footnotes: It has been asked why there appear to be listed LAT options that do NOT appear in the dealer literature. In addition, references to a U.S. Rootes "final assembly line" that installed LAT options prior to dealer delivery have been made. These issues are herein addressed.
- Norman Miller, in his excellent "The Book of Norman" (TBON), as well as others, have discussed the departure from International Automobiles Inc. of the "LAT" man, Richard Wheatley, and his subsequent employment at Traction Masters. Traction Masters was the authorized supplier of LAT parts, such as the traction bars (LAT-5, LAT-6) and the LAT-76 and LAT-77 rear and front shock absorbers. Traction Masters, with Wheatley on board, sold many other items using a "LAT" number that were not sold through International Automobiles, and may not deserve the legal use of the name, uncontested apparently, but certainly they were using the spark plug behind the LAT program.
- There have been references made to the "Rootes final assembly of LAT options" before dealer delivery. A sometimes enforced requirement for racing a car in the stock class. This appears to be true, for those that needed such a pedigree. The following quotation, from Ian Garrad's letter to the SCCA, ought to put this question to rest.
- Source: "Tiger, An Exceptional Motor Car, William Carroll, Auto Book Press, Oct. 1978, page 54: Extracted from a letter by Ian Garrad to the SCCA on October 11, 1965"
After describing the changes the Tiger design specifications were going through, including upgrades from Ford on the original 260, such as rocker pivot studs, first gear ratio, valve sizes, the new top loader transmission vs T-10, etc. Ian goes on to state:
"We also draw your attention to the fact that there are available, from our Parts Department, performance kits made up of Ford parts, several hundred of which have already been sold this year to date.
These kits, LAT-1 through LAT-71, include four-barrel carburation, solid lifters, dual-point ignition, screw-in rocker pivot studs, and high performance options. These kits have been available since the introduction of the Tiger last year and are supplied to dealers via the Parts Department of Rootes. In the Los Angeles area, kits are installed prior to delivery to dealers," Ian's letter to the SCCA concluded.
Los Angeles Tigers (LAT) Options were installed by Rootes at their main Service Depot, in Long Island, New York; or at the West Coast warehouse in Long Beach, California...."
It goes on to list the LAT options by number and description.
There may actually have been some "Long Island Tigers", if anyone were to order one for east coast delivery.
- Tom Hall, well known Tiger Enthusiast, and STOA Tiger Authentication Committee Chairman, has provided his own recollections from the period:
" Since I didn't know Ian Garrad until Dick Wheatly introduced us in 1971, I can only tell you what I know of the situation from discussions at that time. By that time, I had been communicating with Dick for about a year about LAT Options and SCCA Homologation. Mr. Wheatly was the only contact I could find that was familiar with Tiger Production and distribution. We, STOA, were up to our ears in negotiations with the SF Region of SCCA in support of Tiger Owner/Members that were Auto Crossing locally at that time.
Dick was one of Ian's point men in the development of the whole series of LAT options while he was an employee of International Automobiles (Ian's West Coast Rootes Group Sunbeam Distributorship). I do know that Ian had Sunbeam Factory Authorization to develop these options and they were developed for two very good reasons. First they helped the cars go fast on race day which helped sell cars big time in that era. Essentially anything that Doane Spencer developed for racing application was given an LAT number and some quantity of these items were produced and put into "inventory". This "inventory" was primarily for SCCA Homogulation purposes, so the material in inventory might or might not have been the same as Doane's functioning hardware, but it "looked" like it. If you knew the right people (most likely Shelby, International Automobile, or Hollywood Sports Car employees) you could have Special Ordered a Tiger and had those parts installed by someone in that chain prior to having the car delivered to the dealership. I'll be the first to admit that this was not a common situation and the vast majority of the cars were sent to the dealers as received from England, but that gets us to the second reason for the LAT Option development.
The Tiger was not particularly profitable as it was produced in basic form. The LAT Options list was another way for International Automobiles and the retail dealers to share in the sale of options which enhanced the profitability of their operations. This was of paramount importance to Ian, the CEO of the West Coast Sunbeam Distributorship, International Automobiles, who knew that his parent company was in a desperate financial situation. You have to give them credit for at least attempting to meet all of these potentially conflicting situations. By mid 1966 their efforts proved insufficient and Chrysler Corporation assumed management control of the Rootes Group in an attempt to control the continued corporate losses of their subsidiary .
In the process, they managed to flush the whole of International Automobiles personnel from the remaining operation. In doing so, they also created a situation where most of the "documentation" was "lost". All we have is a few random letters and copies of "stuff". Some of us have special memories for those who tried to make it happen."
Tom Hall - January 3, 2002
|Anyone who would like to contribute to this effort should contact us at Editor E-Mail. Thank you.|