On February 23rd 1965 a then-31-year old Charlie Parsons of Oklahoma City OK specially ordered a brand new 1965 Sunbeam Tiger from Auto Europe in Chicago. Why Auto Europe? Because Charlie planned to accept delivery of his new Tiger in Antwerp, Belgium where he would then spend the next few weeks getting to know his new Ford-powered British sports car on the vacation of a lifetime.
And on April 15th 1965 Mr. Parson’s European adventure began when he met his new Tiger for the first time at N.V. Camerman, the official Rootes Group dealer for Antwerpen.
Three weeks later Charlie would return his new Tiger, now with 3,275 miles of adventure registering on its odometer, back to Antwerpen where it would be delivered by ship back to the USA, to the port of Houston Texas to be exact, where it arrived on June 11th 1965.
This trip, from the time the ink hit the order form until Charlie’s Tiger was back in Oklahoma, involved less than four months. But it began a love affair between Charlie and his Tiger that would extend for the rest of Charlie’s life almost fifty years later. Even Hollywood couldn’t dream up a story this good.
Once home from Europe Charlie’s Tiger saw limited use over the following decades, a total of 22,000 miles by 2014 to be exact. But it is clear the Tiger never saw a limited amount of care. After Charlie’s passing his family sold his Tiger, still in virtually new condition, with even its original paint looking just like it did in 1965. Sure, it needed some servicing after years of sitting under a cover, but after all of that was done she now runs like new again as well. What is even more impressive is the amount of documentation Charlie saved from Day 1. It is unlikely a more organized or comprehensive collection of documents for any old car exists- Charlie even saved the envelopes! The story this thick, meticulously organized binder of documentation tells is simply fascinating.
While there are some amazing examples of Sunbeam Tigers, and even a few very impressive unrestored ones, “Charlie’s Tiger” has to take the cake for its story and level of preservation. Its completely original paint still looks showroom new, right down to the dealer sticker on the trunk lid from N.V. Camerman who delivered the car to Charlie in Belgium. There has been no refinishing to the engine compartment, wheels, trunk, or chassis – they are all beautifully preserved 22,000 original mile finishes. During its mechanical re-commissioning in 2014 all original service items that were removed were boxed and saved, right down to the original windshield wiper blades, and all are included with the sale. The original radiator was replaced with a new aluminum unit for better cooling, yet the original is boxed and included. Also included is the original soft top, again removed to preserve it, as well as the original tool kit, tonneau cover, fan belt, cooling system hoses, and more.
It bears mentioning again the level of documentation included with this very special Tiger Mk. 1. Everything from the original showroom brochures, the order form, the sales contract, the owner’s manual, warranty book, and every slip of paperwork from new including all of the shipping receipts for its trip home from Europe in 1965 are neatly organized and included. A sample of this mind-blowing documentation is posted here.
Today this 22,000 original mile, unrestored, original paint Mk.1 Sunbeam Tiger certainly ranks as the finest of its type. Its ownership history, with 49 years in the care of its meticulous original owner, is second to none. It is also fully serviced, sorted, and ready to drive and enjoy with substantial service records to document its level of preparation. In operation, the doors “click” shut with the lightest touch, the engine starts on the slightest bump of the key and is whisper quiet with that classic Tiger burble out of its factory dual exhaust, its Toploader 4 speed and factory shifter have the crisp “click-click” engagement you’d expect from components just barely broken in, and its chassis, power brakes, and rack and pinion steering all perform in such a way that anybody who has experienced a not-so-good Tiger would go “Ah-Ha! This is what a Tiger should be.” It just has a feel and a magical quality no restored car can duplicate.
In the world of Tigers it is without question that “Charlie’s Tiger” is one example that is truly special. Worthy of the finest collection of sports cars, it stands ready to offer many more decades of Ford-powered enjoyment, as well as a benchmark for Tiger originality.
- Year: 1965
- Mileage: 22,000 mi
- Condition: Remarkable Unrestored Original
- Exterior Color: Red
- Interior Color: Black
- Transmission: 4 speed
- Final Drive:
- Engine: 260 CID
- Drivetrain: RWD