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Duke Samouce
Fort Leavenworth KS
(6 posts)

08/13/2009 11:37AM

Main British Car:
1966 Sunbeam Tiger Ford 347

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1966 Sunbeam Tiger
Posted by: 66TigerMk1
Date: July 08, 2011 11:59AM

Owner: Duke Samouce
City: Fort Leavenworth, KS
Car Model: Tiger
Engine: Stock: 260 Ford V8

Engine: Ford 347 Small Block

Cooling: Three row core, OEM tanks

Exhaust: Duel 2 1/4" with 2" cross over through 50 series Flowmaster mufflers.
Transmission: Ford Toploader four speed close ratio HEHE

Rear Axle: Salsbury axle, Dana 44 rear, Auburn Gear limited slip

Front Susp.: Twin wishbone with tube shocks and sway bar
Rear Susp.: Leaf Spring, tube shock, traction bars, panhard rod

(master) Girling servo assisted
(front) two piston caliper disk
(rear) 1985 Mazda RX7 rear disk

Wheels/Tires: 13" J.A.P.: J.A. Pierce alloy

Body Mods: Front leaf spring mount reinforcement

Interior: Prestige Autowood dash, AutoMeter 8000K tach

Electrical: Alternator

I found it on ebay. It was located in New Hampshire. I had been looking for a Tiger for about nine months at the time and saw many Tigers sell on ebay that were of dubious condition and with questionable authenticity. The pictures looked good with no rust evident, a rarity in the N.E.

I called the sellers (number was in the auction description) and got the VIN and JAL numbers. With them, I called Norman Miller to get the skinny. He assured me that all of the car numbers were correct and it looked to be the real deal.

I called the sellers back, we agreed on a price and I then sent them a deposit in order for them to end the auction. A flight to see the car was necessary and one of the sellers picked me up at the airport and drove me to his shop. The car was clean and positioned on a lift where I could do a good examination.

It was in excellent shape with no rust! The story goes that it has been off the road since 1972 and that four different guys had bought/sold and worked on restoring (very lose term) the car over the years. These four individuals all lived within a 40 mile radius.

I asked Randy Willett to meet me at the shop as I wanted his opinion of the car. He gave me the head nod as to the authenticity of the car in his opinion.

During this inspection, the sellers kept letting me know that I could step out of the agreement if I wanted. With some pressing I found out that after the ended the auction early, they received several phone calls from angry people who had wanted to bid on the car. They knew that the selling price was low but stayed with our agreement.

I had the Tiger shipped in an enclosed car hauler from NH to Kansas. On the day that the car was supposed to be delivered, I got a phone call from the shipper. “Sir, something happened to your car in route”. They loaded an AMC Javelin with no engine or brakes behind mine. In the process, it got away from them and smashed into the back of the Tiger. ~$3000 worth of damage occurred. The shipper dropped the car off with Greg Johnson (a metal sculptor and auto restorer) in Wichita, KS. Greg did fantastic work on the car and the damage was completely removed with just about no body filler used. The shipper paid the bill.

As found -



Here I am, very happy to finally get my Tiger.
T 004.jpg

Then I started to drive it…..what a mess.

1. Radiator was 75% clogged. I know why the temp gauge was disconnected for the test drive.
2. Front suspension needed a complete rebuild, everything was shot. One of the PO felt that painting everything black made is “restored”.
3. Rear leaf springs were sagging and the right rear tire rubbed bad.
4. One of the PO put a 4.22 gear in the rear. This made the cars top end around 90 mph. The original rear diff gear was a 2.88. The v8 screamed everywhere and changing gears was constant.
5. Engine was sick. Oil pressure was way too high and the heads were in bad shape…more on that later.
6. Generator system was weak.
7. 215 BF Goodrich tires were too big for the JAP rims, were also 10 years old.
8. OEM Girling brake booster was missing, brake pedal was hard and not very responsive.

So, I had some work to do. I wanted a car I could drive anywhere in the US at any time.

I started with the radiator. I had a new modern three core installed with the original tanks. I also implemented many of the modifications from Tiger Tom & Chuck King's article on cooling the tiger. (

Next was the front suspension. The complete front assembly is removed with four bolts, two brake line connections and the steering connection to the rack. All bushing were replace with poly, new ball joint and sway bar bushings. I also had the crossmember reinforced with addition welds in historically weak points. Good thing about the Tiger community….it has all been done over the past 45 years and information on trouble areas are easy to find along with their fix.

The rear end was next. I replace the very worn leaf springs with Dale A's ( heavy duty springs that feature thicker and fewer leaves, extra half leaf and much smaller front rubber bushing. No more tire rub! I also had the 4.22 gear replaced with 3.07 gear. This, of course, required a different carrier section. I went with an Auburn Gear unit. I may go to the OEM 2.88 gear in the future. I have plenty of HP now to turn it.


The stock 260 was running, but not well. I attempted a trip from Kansas to southern California for a Tiger car show and had to turn back in Colorado due to the engine missing badly. A compression/leak down tests resulted in very poor condition cylinder heads. So they needed to come off and be rebuilt.


A good friend of mine did the machine work. He informed me that all of the valve seats were sunk and that the quality of the last vale job was worse that a lawnmower shop would perform. None of the exhaust valves were seating completely. So the iron heads got new valve seats and Chevy oversized valves.


I reused the F4B manifold but went with an Autolite 4100 carb. The engine ran much better on all eight cylinders for the first time in many years. The 4100 also performed very well on the 260. I also discovered that it has .030 over pistons in it so at an earlier time the engine had been rebuilt.


The 260 resulted in the above dyno results. OK for a 260 buy way short of what I wanted my Tiger to have.

The dash really needed attention as it looked like a piece of plywood.
So I contacted Prestige Autowood in CA ( looking for one of their fantastic burl wood dashes. I got the pick of the litter with a glove box door.

I also sourced a proper radio and console for the car off of Epay. AM radio works too.

Together installed, it transformed the interior and I enjoy looking at it every day. You can see that I also installed a Lucas emergency flash unit just to the right of the radio. I used all Brit wiring and connectors from British Wiring ( so it looks just as it would if the factory installed it.

So at that point, the car was well sorted and I enjoyed driving to many car shows and events. Last October I drove it 3200 miles round trip to Tigers United XXIX in Rockport Maine. I was rewarded during the trip by the Tiger running perfectly, winning 1st place in my class and 3rd place in the autocross. Also got the long distance traveled award.
Sporting a new LAT hood......prepping for the engine fitting for a Tiger.


Then I found a 347 short block on Craig's List. The engine contained all new parts and never had been started. The seller had $4500 into it and I got it for $2200. The time to turn my Tiger into a monster had arrived. My wife was not happy. can not just toss a 347 with twice the HP of the 260 in the Tiger without some modifications to the car. I needed better air movement through the radiator and engine compartment. The rear drum brakes had to go. The front mounting points for the leaf springs needed to be reinforced.

Edited 15 time(s). Last edit at 08/20/2011 01:39PM by 66TigerMk1.

Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4578 posts)

10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1966 Sunbeam Tiger
Posted by: Moderator
Date: February 03, 2012 05:35PM


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