B9109464 LRX

Ken Miles Prototype - Tiger #1

During the very first breaths of the Sunbeam Tiger venture, this Ian Garrad "second thought" ended up being the cornerstone to his dream of grafting American to English roots.  After launching the V8 Alpine marriage with Shelby American, prudence called for reassurance it really could be done.  Validation is said to have been crafted in just over a week.  With the Shelby digs stuffed to the workbenches, Ken Miles was tapped to support the cause from his personal garage.  While deliberately not fancy, a Fairlane 260 mated to a matching automatic, found its way into one of Mr. Garrad's Alpines and the concept was no longer "pie in the sky", but rather "pedal to the metal".  


$1,200.00 V8 Series II  "Thunderbolt" test bed, March, 1963.


This image was captured some 20 years after Ian Garrad and Ken Miles took their inaugural Hollywood freeway cruise.  At this point the car was not running, but things still looked pretty serviceable.

As one would expect from boys with new toys, Ian was definitely not above enjoying the competitiveness of dusting off an unsuspecting smart-aleck now and then.  Street racing undoubtedly occupied many agreeable hours during the next several weeks.  But, there are those that suggest continued interest in the "candied apple" was short lived.  Supposed anticipation for the more fully engineered example making its way through Shelby's Venice works, is credited with relegating the feasibility study to out-of-the-way parking.  However, trips to San Francisco are also reported to have been a regular exercise and if the diving impressions memorandum dictated by John Panks can be taken at face value, the Miles machine continued to serve its function to the fullest.  

It is fact that Hungerford's British Motor Cars in Escondido, California, did serve to funnel both the Miles and later the Shelby prototype into private ownership.  One source claims International Automobiles recouped  $1,400.00  when wholesaling the first-built Alpine V8 and while we don't have the price paid by its first civilian owner, we do know the fellow was a drag race enthusiast named Jerry Lawson.  We also know, or at least surmise, that Mr. Lawson up rated the 260 to a hipo 289 and was having a merry old time collecting quarter mile trophies, until something in the mix prompted an engine teardown.  As soon as there was no more joy, life for the cool looking, dart-shaped, heavily primered, oddball Alpine, became very uncertain.  


The best of intentions resulted in a holding pattern for the better part of 12 years.  Ray Harvick became the third official owner in 1968, but walked away short of the "run about" he'd planed on for his wife. 


At the end of Lampson's stewardship, the log book of activity amounted to little more than another sixteen years of decay.
After a number of convoluted maneuvers, the disabled dragster became the property of an off-road Ford fan in Hemet, California.  With the help of his friend, Bill Stroppe, Ray Harvick managed to get things back together, adding a set of chrome side pipes, whitewall tires and a fresh green metallic re-spray.  Somehow, even with the biggest part of a make-over under his belt, progress stalled.  In fact, no further work was ever undertaken by Harvick.  He moved household and goods to the outskirts of Fresno, then facing a subsequent relocation, sold his interest to a gentleman named, Harold Lampson.  As might be expected, Harold got all excited about his new plaything.  Amongst other efforts, he set about verifying the car's significant lineage, including securing a letter of fact from Ian Garrad.
But, to his shame, aside from the initial fervor of documenting a list of previous owners and a bit of history, nothing meaningful was accomplished in over a dozen years.  To be kind, a proper set of magnesium "Silverstone"  8-spokers were located and reunited with the package, however exposing them to unprotected storage for countless months did nothing to preserve appearance.  Then, the sad occurrence of Mr. Lampson's unexpected 1996 passing opened another period of uncertainty, albeit for no more than a few ticks.  The urgency of tidying up one's affairs led to an uninformed exchange well under the value of such a remnant.  Fortune at last played a trump card and a serious new champion took control of the languishing leftover.  
Side pipes and a set of "Silverstone" Americans.  1997 saw the final public outing of this long suffering Miles memento, at least in its "slime" outfit  with "Cal Custom" accessories.  

You must admit it's much nicer being "red".  Rolling on a set of travelers and sporting most of the "born again" trim, B9109464 begins to see the light. 
When they invented Ford enthusiasts, Bo Cheadle must have been first from the mold.  His passion for an oval of blue extended to all manor of FOMOCO influenced metal.  Happily for the Sunbeam crowd, a Tiger or two made it into the collection.  When Bo was finished lavishing his brand of "TLC", the Miles prototype emerged from its unsightly algae disguise as a dazzling display of all things tasty.  The quality of this restoration jumps from every quadrant.  I promised not to talk about tribulations during the rework, but having had a bit of firsthand experience, I can verify it took many tries to get the carpet on the tunnel to lay correctly. 
It's worthy of note that Miles chose to bypass the problem posed by an original equipment mechanically driven Series II tachometer.  Rather than struggle to mount the bulky Lucas "dynamotor" with cable drive, he hung a Ford generator and fitted an electric Sun tach.  If it looks familiar, check out your option list under "LAT-22".  Some of the more knowledgeable Alpine folks might point out the deletion of the Smith/Jaeger gage also eliminated the high beam and left turn indicator warning lights, but a little judicious adjusting of the wiring easily masked the exclusion.  You may not be with me on this one, but to my eye the look of the early dash was absolutely stunning - certainly heads above the vinyl that replaced it.
Candy coated inside and out.  Definitely a flavor that was missing for far too long.

Orchestra seating, reservations for two. 
In fact, the understated classic appearance of the Miles car appeals to me more than the red with white piping and red carpets of the "Shelby" example.  There's something uncluttered about this presentation and the Rootes styling designers must have been of the same mind.  By the introduction of the '66 model year, all regular Tigers were being assembled with black on black on black.  Accordingly, it's not hard to imagine occupying the controls of the very first Tiger and enjoying every moment of the experience.  If you need convincing, one need only recall the Ken Miles comment following an early test run, "By God, this is going to sell."
I still can't get over the fortune of uniting a dedicated guardian, like Bo Cheadle, with a slowly rotting piece of Tiger history.  The effort and resource invested in reviving this battered template could only have come from someone with his unique passion and commitment.  The official inaugural display took place during the third Sunbeams International gathering at Big Sky, Montana, July, 1999.  To many, the Series II silhouette signaled only a nicely painted Alpine with an equally clean set of alloys.  To the knowledgeable, it was reminiscent of an earlier time when Ian spoofed the light-to-light racers on Hollywood boulevards. 
The original glass slipper. 

Open and reporting for duty. 
But, as the fates would have it, there was a new venture in store for the Miles prototype.  On October 21, 1999, Robert V. 'Bo' Cheadle departed his earthly burdens and sadly initiated the process of liquidating a fabulous collection of significant vehicles.  On the  16th of August , 2002, the prototype found a new owner via the Monterey Sports Car Auction.  With little fanfare stewardship was transferred to Mr. Roger Willbanks (a marque neophyte who admitted the purchase was in response to a passion for the "first", or "last" of anything).  Under his brief, but diligent management, enthusiasts were granted a major screening at the fourth celebration of Sunbeams International.  Joining an eclectic display of "factory" inventiveness, the Miles car took its rightful place amongst the event attractions in Park City, Utah, July 5-10, 2004, to the benefit of all. 
  Then we focused on a February 11th, 2005, change in ownership via RM Classic Cars and their Collector Car Auction at the prestigious Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton, Florida.  Almost before the funds ($50,825.00) cleared the depository, I found the car again on the market by its new custodian, C. Brody Investment Motorcars in Weston, Florida.  The search for a buyer would not end until the 19th of August, 2006.  Once again an RM Auction provided the action, this time at the Monterey Sports and Classic Car event.  Lot # 421 was, to quote one of the attendees, "...driven on to RM's auction stage in front of a very large crowd, and immediately commenced to overheat with thick steam rising from both wheel wells and coolant pouring out underneath...and this after it had been idling outside the auction for a not very long period of time.  The auctioneer told the crowd that 'this is the only steam powered car that we will be offering this evening', and instructed the buffers to push it off the stage quickly to avoid more of a mess..."  Regardless, someone saw through the smoke-screen.  Checking the results, finds a listed selling price of $46,750.00.  Time to await word and details on the new owner.
Images captured from the February 23rd, 2005 Internet listing.


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