Shelby-Powered Tiger Leads this Euro Rally Lineup. As a kid growing up near Detroit, Mr. Hans Abrahams was surrounded by American muscle cars. His father, however, hailed from Britain and introduced young Hans to the wonderful world of 1960s European Rally Championships. When Hans was old enough to begin buying and working on cars of his own, he quickly discovered that his car tastes had a theme.
“I love the idea of a car that, basically stock off the showroom floor, was taken to the great roads of Europe and thrashed to the end of its life,” says Hans of his automotive proclivities.
Hans’s cars now include a Canadian-built 1967 Volvo 123 GT, a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger Mark I-A, and a 1965 MG B. And when Hans cranks the ignition on these cars, you’ll abandon just about every notion you have about staid Volvo family-haulers and dowdy British sports cars. It was Volvo, after all, that won back-to-back European Rally Championships in 1963 and 1964, and an MG B that carried Stirling Moss through multiple Monte Carlo Historic Rallies.
And then there’s the Sunbeam Tiger, a sure sign that Hans hasn’t completely abandoned his Motor City roots.
In the early 1960s, the Rootes Group was looking to spice up its tame little Alpine two-seater, then powered by a 1725 cc engine capable of 93 horsepower. After negotiations with Ferrari broke down, Formula 1 champion Mr. Jack Brabham floated the idea of dropping a Ford V8 into the Alpine. In fact, why not just ring up Mr. Carroll Shelby, whose AC Cobra had pioneered the combination of Ford power and British roadsters?
Thus the Sunbeam Tiger was born. While Series I Tigers originally featured a 260 cubic inch V8, Hans’s Sunbeam now sports the 289 V8 that powered Series II Tigers. The car may look diminutive, even cute, but when the 273 horsepower-engine fires up it sounds as wicked as anything on the road.
The Sunbeam, however, is more than mere noisy ornamentation in Hans’s Connecticut garage. Like all of Hans’s cars, it too is a semi-daily driver.
“I never bought [my cars] as an investment; I bought them to enjoy,” says Hans. “Life is short. I don’t want to look at them in the garage and look back and say, ‘that’s where my memories came from–the garage.’ I want to remember them for what I did on the road and for the adventures I had.”