THE FACTORY HARRINGTON TIGER

 Not long ago many thought that this car didn't exist, even well-known authors in the subject. Many thought that it was a “home made” Harrington Tiger like some others. But now we know better. So here is the story about the true Sunbeam Harrington Tiger

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Once in 1964 there was a body shell which left the Pressed Steel Coat Cowley. The body shell was meant to be a Tiger. It was fully assembled and painted, but without engine, drivetrain and dashboard and some more details. Before it was painted it got its JAL number (Jensen Alpine Line) 561748. The almost ready body shell was then brought to Jensen Motors in West Bromwich, were it was almost completed except some body parts and weather equipments. The car was going to be converted by Harrington Ltd into a Harrington Tiger. This happened in autumn 1964. But before that the car went to Hartwell Ltd in Bournemouth to be slightly tuned up, it got another carburettor and air filter and because of that a scoop was put on the bonnet. Shortly after New Year in 1965 the car was backat Jensens to be completely finished. It got a VIN plate which showed the chassis number B 9472164 HROFE, engine number and paint code (58) Midnight blue. The car left Jensen in 1965 Jan 21


Some months later in May 18th it was registered and licensed as DUU 550C. The only Sunbeam Harrington Tiger was born. Who became its first owner? Probably Mr Paul Hickey whose name is the first one in the documents. P. Hickey was also employed by Harrington Ltd. "UU” in the license number means that the car was registered in Greater London, most likely at a Rootes agency.


DUU 550C was now on the street. Sometimes in the late sixties an advertisement from a car magazine was seen, somebody drove it just 1700 miles and wanted it to sell. The price was £1075 and the ad came from Brighton where also P. Hickey lived! Who bought it?

 The advertiser mixed up the car with the Lister made. Telephone number is a private one not belonging to any Hickeys.

In 1978 ten years later the 20% of March, John Benton of Comfield Carriage Company in Eastbourne bought the car and owned it just a short while until Mr Steven Strong bought it the same year in November 15th. The car was still in rather good condition but after a while S. Strong had the engine restored and it was repainted. The scoop and the big airfilter were also taken away. The car had also a tow bar mounted. He kept it for four years before he put an ad in STOC club magazine. The car is pictured in the first edition of Mike Taylors book about Tigers, "The Making of a Sports Car".

Mr Bill van Velkinburg (USA) saw the ad. It was in rumming and driving condition and he immediately flew to England to see it. He then discussed its history with lan Garrad, Sunbeam competition director Noman Garrad's son, who had been Rootes' competition director on the U.S. West Coast during the Tiger's development, before buying it and carefully shipping it to Sacramento.

 Above: the car is loaded in the container for destination Sacramento, USA, where it got the license number HARNGTN.
From 1982 through 1989 the car was carefully maintained in its original condition and was a prizewinner in Tiger club events. Before it went to SUNI in 1989, the original 500cfm Holley carburettor that was installed when the car was new was replaced by Norman Miller at the Rootes Group Depot to a Ford C.4DF, more appropriate to the displacement of its 260 cubic inch Ford V8.

At Pebble Beach the car faced daunting competition in the Post-war European Custom Coachwork class: a Delahaye, a Talbot-Lago and a 1947 Bentley Mark VI by Figoni and Falaschi. The extravagant Bentley won the class but the Harrington left the Delahaye and Talbot Lagoin its dust and took second in class. Later in 1990 at the Palm Springs Concours, an event honouring Carroll Shelby and featuring Shelbys and Tigers, it took Best in Class and Best Sunbeam Tiger. Since then the car has taken a succession of Tiger and Sunbeam awards as well as a Class win a the important Hillsborough Concours d'Elegance in 1998 and garnering the most recent of its several People's Choice wins at the Dixon, Califomia All British

Meticulously restored and obsessively maintained, the car, the one and only factory-built Sunbeam Harrington Tiger fastback coupe is, as its show history demonstrates, in impeccable condition. All its trophies - including the sterling silver Pebble Beach trophy that sets it apart from all other Tigers - come with it. Its presentation, in Midnight blue with light blue interior and alloy wheels, highlights the distinctive Harrington fastback coupe body.

In 2003 Bill V put the car up for sale at Sporthaus Inc. in Reno, Nevada, price $ 219.000 !! It wasn't sold, not surprised. He tried again in 2005 at The Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction in the price range of $140,000.00 - 160,000.00, The bidding didn't go that well, but the car was sold for $82,500 to a Canadian buyer. Who? We don't know but probably a collector or somebody who wants to be unknown.

So far we know of five owners, but how many during the ten year period, late 1960 to 1978?


A big thank you goes to Steve, Normand Graham who helped me to dig deeper in the Harrington Tiger stories “true or false"
February 2012.

The car was recently sold at RM Auction 15th Jan 2015 for $170K .New owner known.

 

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