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United Kingdom | | Yapton
Make: Sunbeam
Varient: Tiger
Year: 1965
Engine: 4727
Transmission: manual
Colour: blue
Fuel Type: Petrol
Doors: 2
Drive type: right
Seats: 2


One of only 3 surviving ‘First Intention’ MKII Sunbeam Tigers. This car has Everything the Tiger should have had!

AF203 – Prototype MKII. Built spring 1965.

The Rootes Group’s initial design intentions for the MKII Sunbeam Tiger unfolded only a few months after the public launch of the Tiger at the New York Auto Show of April 1964. By September a management policy meeting gave the go ahead for a Series II Tiger. The intention was to produce a Tiger with all round performance that would eclipse its British competitors! It would have:

– 289 engine & modified gearbox ratios (Ford HEH-B)

– I” wider track to rear axle

– Disc brakes all round

– 14” wheels on 5 stud hubs

– Modified radiator & ducting

– Revised steering assembly

– Larger brake servo

– Alternator assembly

– Oil cooler

– Revised foot-well ventilation

– Sportier exhaust system for the US market

– Numerous styling modifications


Over the next couple of months Jensen Motors Ltd (subcontractors to Rootes for the Tiger) built three ‘Alpine Ford’ second series development vehicles – AFs 202, 203 and 204. Each of these vehicles received the complete specification upgrades planned for the provisional launch of the MKII in 1966.

AF202’s assignment was to be a 4 speed automatic with Ford’s C4 transmission mated to Ford’s 6 bolt 289 (4.7 litre) engine built in RHD

AF203’s assignment was to be a full specification manual MKII Sunbeam Tiger with Ford’s wider ratio HEH-BN transmission built in LHD to model USA spec.

AF204 assignment was to be a full specification manual MKII Sunbeam Tiger with Ford’s wider ratio HEH-BN transmission built in RHD to model UK spec.

The body shells provided for the three vehicles were period production shells having the stamping of the early MK1, wearing MKI trim and badges. Jensens’ completed the construction of AF203 during January and February 1965 and the car was registered by Humber for road use on 10th March 1965.

However, despite commendable reports from Rootes engineers on the all-round performance of the cars, dealer feedback from the all-important US market was profound; a significant increase of sales price would impact the Tiger’s competitive position between the Healey 3000 and the E-type Jaguar and the very purpose of the MKII to gain market share would be challenged.

Sold into private hands -1966

Upon the revision of the project intention and completion of pilot production MKII’s with scaled back specification, AF203 was surplus to Rootes    Engineering requirements and was soon sold privately to a member of Rootes Group management, a Mr Kenneth Lunt. The car was though used for one last exercise, that of being fitted up with the sill trim and moulding trim around the wheel arch openings that will be the visual hallmarks of the MKII. But in this case Jensens’ did not remove the MKI trim as a result AF203 is unique being the only factory Sunbeam Tiger to carry the trim of both series.

The engine bay of AF203 1967 showing in the bottom image the 7” Girling brake servo locating bracket that only occurred on right hand drive MKII’s despite the car being set up still in left hand drive, although this was to change with the next owner.

In 1968 AF203 was acquired by a Paul Banbury of Leicestershire and during his custody Paul changed the steering to right hand drive using factory parts.

After being owned for 10 years by a Mr John Burton, AF203 came into the guiding hands of restorer Keith Hampson in the early 80’s. Keith Hampson set about completely restoring the Tiger and all mechanical components over the following few years ensuring it was returned to its appearance and specification as it left the factory and by 1988 AF203 was ready to be exhibited at classic car shows and be the subject of a feature article in a classic car magazine.

This remarkable and unique Sunbeam Tiger in its prototype completeness is now available for the next enthusiast.