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Eye Candy

Eye Candy: Rare British roadster boasts a Shelby V8

Published March 14, 2014
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Toronto Star

The car: 1965 Sunbeam Tiger

The owners: Grant and Jean Leonard, Terra Cotta, Ont.

The story:Grant Leonard first owned a Sunbeam Alpine in 1961, but he had to sell the 4-cylinder roadster a few months later to pay for his education.

“The memory of this car, its style, lingered with me,” says Grant. “Finally, fully supported by my wife, the dream came true 15 years ago. But it was the ultimate: a Sunbeam Tiger built on the Alpine body/frame!”

As Grant explains, the history of the Sunbeam Tiger, produced by the Rootes Group, was short-lived.

“Although the Alpine was a good-looking roadster sports car, it was losing ground to the TRs and MGs,” he says. “So Rootes hired the legendary Carroll Shelby to shoehorn a Ford V8 engine into the Alpine.”

Shelby succeeded, so English manufacturer Jensen Motors was contracted to build the cars and the Tiger was born in 1964.

Chrysler bought out Rootes in 1967 decided to terminate production of the Tiger. Total Tiger production was less than 7,000, of which only about 350 are still on the road.

“We enjoy touring during the summer to many places in Ontario and Quebec, and also attend classic car shows,” says Grant.

In honour of the Tiger’s 50th anniversary, it will be the featured marque at this July’s Brits in the Park event hosted by the Victoria British Car Club in Lindsay, Ont.

“We plan on attending and encourage any remaining Tigers to attend,” says Grant.

Show us your candy: Do you have a beautifully restored or modified car? Send us your good-quality pics, along with a few sentences about why it’s special to you.

Please include your name, city of residence, make and year of the car, and how long you’ve had it.

If we choose it, we’ll run it in Toronto Star Wheels and online at Wheels.ca. Send your email to wheels@thestar.ca and be sure to use “Eye Candy” in the subject line.

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