Thursday, February 12, 2009

1965 Sunbeam Tiger 260

According to the owner’s handbook, this is a Rootes Sunbeam 260, but everyone knows it as a Sunbeam Tiger. I bought this one in May 1984 (coincidently, I paid $3,500, which was the car’s original list price in 1965). It was in rather poor condition at the time, but I had a job in autobody repair, so I immediately set to getting it road worthy.
The following summer I raced it with the Vintage Racing Club (VRC) of British Columbia at Westwood (second photo), a track in the hills above Port Coquitlam, B.C. I continued to vintage race it in 1986 (twice) and 1987 (four events). From late ’85 through ‘88, it was my only car, so I could race it as hard as I dared, so long as I could still drive it to work on Monday.
From Seattle, I’ve driven it twice to Monterey, Ca, to watch the vintage races at Laguna Seca, and once to Baja California, Mexico, to race in La Carrera Classic (1987). The trip to Mexico was a terrific coup: my brother and I drove my daily-driver “race car” to Mexico, started the race 33rd out of 90-plus cars, and finished 16th at an average speed of over 91 mph over the 120-mile course across the Baja Peninsula (third photo). And then we drove it back to Seattle. It was a great adventure. There are more photos from the '87 La Carrra Classic (most with the mapped locations at which they were taken) at http://picasaweb.google.com/RacycleCrank/LaCarreraClassic1987#.
In 1988 I restored the body, promptly crashed it, then re-restored it again in 1990. In 1992 I returned the Tiger to the track for four events. This would be the last season that I’d risk the car in this way; I knew I didn’t have the gumption to fix it up a third time.
I still have the car, and it’s still a blast to drive. We just don’t get out so much anymore. Really must rectify that.

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