Anglo American Muscle – Three High Powered British Roadsters

Manufacturers of British sports cars usually chose good handling and road holding capabilities over raw power. Many American automotive tuners saw the possibility of upgrading the power in these cars and producing a hot rod roadster to challenge the exotics at road races around the world. The resulting marriages of British roadsters and American muscle produced some interesting caricature cars throughout history.

The Sunbeam Tiger

Sunbeam, a British car manufacturer that was part of the Rootes Group in the sixties produced a small roadster. The Alpine was sold in the United States and had moderate success. It was an alternative to the MGs and Triumphs which were more expensive. A West Coast dealer of Alpines sought to improve the performance of the car and was determined to get a larger engine into the car. Discussions between Ford, Rootes Group and Carroll Shelby resulted in Ford’s 260 cubic inch motor being slipped into the Alpine frame. The resulting car was named the Sunbeam Tiger. This was to be a competitor to other high powered cars that were racing on the road circuits and tracks around the world. The Tiger was a collaboration of American power and ingenuity with British manufacturing.

The Jensen Interceptor

Mating a British coupe with a monster Chrysler engine in the mid sixties created what was to be the most powerful car ever created by British manufacturer Jensen. Jensen was known for its small convertible cars such as the Jensen Healey. The manufacture was determined to build a coupe that would be fast and handle as well as the lightweight Healeys did. The result was a car designed in Italy, built in England and powered by one of America’s most potent engines. The Jensen Interceptor was introduced in 1966. It combined a lightweight British coupe with the Chrysler 383 cubic inch interceptor engine. The car was manufactured through 1976. In 1974 a convertible model was introduced. Special editions of the Interceptor included models with three two barrel carburetors and an all wheel drive variant. The Interceptor was Jensen’s marriage of a lightweight car with a huge motor. The resulting vehicle was interesting and fast but never created a real demand in the market.

The AC Cobra

The AC Ace was just another cottage crafted roadster from England until Carroll Shelby dropped a Ford 289 CID engine into the frame and created the most legendary mating of British car and American power. The AC Cobra, also called the Shelby Cobra, became an instant hit. the car provided the small British company with a sales channel into the United States. The Cobra went on to house engines up to 427 cubic inches. The flared and widened body bore little resemblance to the original Ace by the time Shelby was done with it. Although very few original AC Cobras were produced there are literally thousands on the road today as every kit car company has reconstructed this dream car of yesteryear.

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