The Car

HISTORICAL GLIMPSES - JULY 2002


Looking very much like any other neglected restoration project, but this is the first MK II to negotiate Jensen's 289 assembly line. 
It isn't often I get a chance to babble about the final group of Sunbeam Tigers, but once in awhile the planets achieve proper alignment and it's impossible to ignore the tug of gravity.  Even though they are only loosely connected, two recent events prompt at least a minor interlude of MK II repartee.  The first incident was launched by a phone call.  I had been talking with Seattle area guru, Larry Atkisson, about his search for a special MK II project.  Something, he explained, that might require a few of the special extras he had been putting aside for a rainy day.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist the "rain" dig.)  At any rate, a quick riffle through my stack of old contact numbers turned up information for a long silent, Jim Dunlap.   Now, unless you're totally into minutia, I'll need to tell you that Mr. Dunlap is the unheralded owner of one, very important and fascinating MK II chassis - B382100001 LRXFE.  The existence of this car has been public for many years, but Jim lurks on the outskirts of normal Tiger activity and his procrastination over providing detailed photos, was guaranteeing limited exposure.   
On the odd chance he might be in the mood to part with history, I dialed the number.  He remembered my last contact and apologized for not having gotten around to the promised pictures, but insisted they would be forthcoming.  He also insisted that while the rebirth of the car was still on a back burner, there was no intention of having anyone else added to its chain of ownership.  True to his slightly delayed pledge, a small group of photos did make it to my California address, so I present them to insure wider appreciation.
How familiar is this?  Anything should be possible as long as the parts boxes remain within reach.

This tag and its cohort below, are fabulous testament to the oddities of MK II production.  Owners are forced to minus their chassis numbers by ninety-seven in order to get a proper relationship to factory output. 
Imagine opening the hood and finding this chassis plate staring back at you?  For the longest time I didn't think we would ever hear the fate of the second "production analysis" MK II.  After all, Mr. Dunlap's information went into the "Registry" in 1990, and there were three owners in front of him.  My memory had it (something I heard from George Fallehy no doubt) that the same US dealership received and sold both of these cars.  Understanding vehicles behave much like the people who own them, one would expect to stumble on brother and sister in reasonably nearby neighborhoods, but all was silent for over forty years. 
Then, out of a clear blue sky I received an email all in Swiss German ( "ich kaufte den wagen von einem šlteren herrn .er besass den tiger seit 1968 !! und er widerum hat ihn aus 1ter hand gekauft.jetzt bald wird er neu lakiert .ich suche den besitzer des mk2 mit der chassi nr 3821oooo1") verifying the survival of B382100002 LRXFE.   Having it turn up in Switzerland was a complete surprise.  To be frank, having it turn up at all was amazing.  I should know better, but I had fully written off ever hearing of its existence.  The best I can do interpreting the email calls out Stefan Schnyder in Lucerne, Switzerland as the owner.  When I begged for additional pictures they were promised, but only at the completion of an ongoing restoration.       
And the hits just keep on happening.  I would have wagered buckets of money against every seeing this second "production analysis" chassis tag.  The "gods" are truly smiling.

Two somewhat odd entries at the beginning of the MK II production records and then two and a half pages of blank lines before the listing for Tiger II number three - B382100101.
This sort of unsolicited Internet input reminds me to count my blessings.  Far different than the mostly analog effort George Fallehy exerted to compile ownership details during his years of "Registry" stewardship.  As a side note, both of these cars carry "NIL" body number listings in the Jensen ledgers, meaning they are definitely not regular production.  But, there are no other ledger indicators excepting them from "full on" MK II configuration, so at least the owners have a known pattern to follow for restoration.

At the center of the second brain tease, we find another MK II production oddity.  I'm not sure it's generally understood that Chrysler UK/Rootes had no plans to manufacture MK IIs for the "Home" market.  The above menagerie of "bobby buggies" points to an exception for RHD vehicles that leads to as many as seven, purpose built  "HROFE" MK II Police prowlers.  One of these "Q" cars is about to emerge from quiet U. S. hibernation, so hold on to your hats.
As far as I know, these are the first detailed photos of any ex MK II Police car.  This particular remnant was commissioned to London's Metropolitan Police Force from June 15, 1967, to October 24, 1969.  At the end of its nearly two and a half year tour, 38,936 miles had been dutifully logged "In Her Majesty's Service".         
This amazing car - B382100406 HROFE  - is the proud possession of dedicated California Tiger enthusiast, Peter Phelps.   

More than a flip of the negative.  Jensen assembled this one and possibly six siblings with controls suited for "the proper side of the road".   
Before I go too much further, NYL 556E's owner, Peter Phelps, has asked that I explain the status of this project.  What you are seeing is an unrestored example and while the images convey the appearance of a very high level of quality, some fudging for the sake of display obscures what will be addressed during an upcoming restoration.
 As with any decommissioned law enforcement vehicle, most of the original patrol trappings were removed before a return to normal use.  Researching, sourcing and acquiring those various trimmings has taken several years, but in truth, no viable restoration could begin until all the pieces were at hand. 
Unarguable confirmation of a much gentler time.  Some rather basic gadgets made up the special pursuit package, of course, the most effective was undoubtedly a 4.7 liter V8. 

Just in case there is any question about what this MK II was supposed to be used for, the larger than life 'Auto Tempo' instrument (commonly know as an "AT" type speedometer) dominates the dashboard, signaling a no-nonsense approach to verifying the velocity of violators.  
The other major cockpit addition also occupies a central position.  While a relatively crude looking device, one is assured it proved more than adequate to the task.   Its "Art Deco" appearance reminds me of an old Philco that Mom used to have on the kitchen table.  It, too, proved equal to the job and survived many years of serious abuse.
Pye Ltd. (of Cambridge) Vanguard valved two-way 25 watt radio.  The "mains" end of this remote unit lived in the trunk, apparently displacing the spare.  With no telltale of a tire in any revised location, one is left to imagine a stack of unused RS-5s to die for. 

In addition to the Police cars, three, or four influential VIPs managed to wangle "HRO"  vehicles into existence, leaving a right hand drive MK II total of somewhere around ten.
If you see something like this in the rearview, applaud!
And just to prove there are a few surviving  angels, look what turned up in England.  In case you fail to grasp the significance of this image, let me point out you are the first "outlanders" to see it since the day it was taken in 1967.  Credit and kudos to Mr. Martin Pester for sharing his latest sleuthing treasure.  Equal accolades to the source, Jim Wilson, for letting us marvel at his family's history.  I know I must be getting a bit redundant, but absolutely amazing!
Say hello to Sergeant George Wilson.  This lucky guy was a regular driver of B382100403 HROFE.  The picture, we're told, was captured at the beginning of his association with this very special Sunbeam Tiger.  To assuage the curious,  NYL 559E lives on in the ownership of Londoner,  Derek Cooper, with restoration plans similar to the Phelps effort.

 

 

LINKS--YOU'LL--LIKE

1996 Historical Glimpses Archive

1997 Historical Glimpses Archive

1998 Historical Glimpses Archive

1999 Historical Glimpses Archive

2000/2001/2002 Historical Glimpses Archive

Current  Historical Glimpse


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