Max's car was an Alpine dressed up to look like a Tiger.

Put a Tiger in your tank

Riley Riley

Bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart drove a Sunbeam Tiger and now you could too, with one coming up for auction in the next month.

The V8-powered English sports car was one of four cars that Max drove in the 60s TV show Get Smart — or was that five?

Although truth be told the car seen on screen was in fact a four cylinder Alpine dressed up to look like a Tiger.

You see the V8 didn’t leave enough room under the bonnet for his 007 style pop-up cannons.

Described as a poor man’s Cobra, the Sunbeam Tiger was the cheapest way to get into a Shelby engineered, small block, Ford-powered, two-seat British convertible in the 60s.

The Tiger with a Ford 4.2L (260cu in) V-8 was praised by the motoring press of the time.

Road and Track found it to be ‘‘a comfortable and refined” sports/touring car.

“In 164bhp (brake horsepower) form, the performance and handling of the car are just about ideal.’’

The Tiger recorded 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds and had a top speed of 190km/h — not as fast as the brutal Cobra but still impressive.

For 1967 the V8 was upped to 4.7L (289cu in), but despite its 200 horsepower the Tiger II wasn’t much faster – the problem was getting the power to ground through the small 13 inch wheels.

Max’s Tiger had all the secret agent stuff: rotating licence plates, ramming bumperettes, Howitzer, smoke screen and ejector seats.

Of course the Tiger being auctioned by Shannons doesn’t come with this stulff, but it looks pretty cool nevertheless.

Restored in the UK in the 1990s, this much-loved 1965 Sunbeam Tiger came to Australia at the end of 2012.

It was restored by its UK Sunbeam Owner’s Club secretary owner as a driver for regular use in club-level competition, hence the four-point harnesses fitted.

It was purchased as the best-driving example he’d tried by the current Australian owner, who has maintained it meticulously since.

Finished in red to a reasonable quality, its cabin is neat with its black-trimmed vinyl, wooden dashboard and matching wood-rim steering wheel and gear knob.

There’s a non-standard fibreglass bonnet fitted, but an original factory steel one comes with the car in a crate.

Recent work has included a new windscreen, brake hoses, radiator hoses and fan belt, oil changes and a new oil filter, and new rear brake slave cylinders.

Our example also comes with an extensive history file of past owners, detailed invoices and test results from the engine rebuild by Maxwell Engineering, photos of its UK restoration, and the original registration documents and owner’s manual.

There are also numerous brass plaques from events the Tiger has attended.

Built for driving above all else, this Tiger has been on club registration, so is being sold unregistered.

It is expected to sell in the $70,000-$80,000 price range.

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