History of Sunbeam Tiger Owner's Association
By Tom Hall
In May of 1969 a number of Sunbeam Tiger owners began meeting in a Bar-Restaurant in San Leandro, Cal. The “Embers” has long since burned to the ground, but the organization that those early owners created, is still going strong. The club’s efforts in those days was largely directed at developing sources and discounts for performance equipment. The first members of the Bay Area Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association, as the organization was then known, were very active in autocrossing, Drag racing and high performance street driving.
As the club gathered membership in the first couple of years , the local contingent began to be outweighed numerically by new members all over the world. The “Bay Area” prefix was dropped and the Sunbeam Tiger Owners Association (STOA) was the name adopted for the long run.
In 1974, we organized the first Tigers United, a combined annual meet of Tiger clubs and enthusiasts from all over the West Coast and beyond. At Tigers United III STOA arranged the first appearance of Ian Garrad, the “Father of the Tiger”. This event renewed his interest in the Tiger, the clubs, and Tiger people in general. This interest continued until his death in 1986. His lovely wife Laura, maintained a close personal relationship with our club and TU events until her passing. Tigers United continues on as the main annual Tiger marque event in the US. We are now planning for our next TU event.
STOA produced the first Tech Tip Manual for Tiger enthusiasts in 1977 and continues to develop and publish Tech Tips for both stock preservation, maintenance, and modifications for enhanced Tiger performance.
STOA publishes a newsletter “Tiger Tracks” approximately 10 times a year. It typically contains schedules, maps and information on Tiger and club related events, stories from and about club members and technical information.
By the early 90's, situations associated with the conversion of Alpine body shells mis-labeled with Tiger VIN identification became an increasingly obvious problem for the marque. Increasing Tiger evaluations and the popularity of the marque to automotive collectors was being threatened by this practice. STOA created a standing committee to develop a program to examine, identify, record and label the remaining Tigers that were products of the Rootes-Jensen assembly lines, and not conversions. The Tiger Authenticity Committee (TAC) has been operational and has grown to international proportions since 1992. It was somewhat controversial when first announced, but the TAC program is now very popular and widely accepted.
We’ve found that most Tiger enthusiasts want to be sure that the cars they are enjoying and investing in are authentic, and the TAC program fulfills this need. Because of its stringent “personal inspection” requirements, the first Tigers in our data base were located in the San Francisco Bay Area. This program now has established TAC certification operations based in central Florida, Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Washington DC, and Sidney, Australia, as well as the Bay Area with over 65 trained Authenticity Inspectors. Almost half a century after production was terminated, our current data base of authentic Tigers is nearing 900 chassis numbers out of the 7085, or so, originally produced.
With the growing popularity of the marque, our club continues to gain new and enthusiastic members as well as long term owners who are interested in sharing information and experiences, get-togethers, and maximizing the fun and enjoyment they get from their Tigers, as the club approaches it’s 45th anniversary. We’ve had a fun time for that long, so there’s no reason to stop now.