Cars

1966 Sunbeam Tiger: Owner likes the combination of British style and powerful Ford engine

Lt. Col. Duke Samouce’s 1966 Sunbeam Tiger.
Lt. Col. Duke Samouce’s 1966 Sunbeam Tiger.

Logically, it makes sense that Lt. Col. Duke Samouce likes a little power in his sports car. Samouce is in the Army. A powerful vehicle is usually a good thing for military personnel.

In the past, Samouce has owned an MG and an Austin-Healey. He enjoys the British body style and the British ergonomics.

“I didn’t like the lack of power,” said Samouce, who lives in Fort Leavenworth. “Most of those engines are like tractor motors.”

In the early 1990s, Samouce learned about the Sunbeam Tiger. It was during this time that Samouce was in the early stages of his military career. He joined the Marine Corps in 1990 and transferred to the Army in 1995.

Midway through his time in the Marines, Samouce found what he was looking for. He bought a Sunbeam Tiger in 1992.

“I was living in San Diego at the time,” Samouce said. “It had everything I like. It has the British body, the British interior and a Ford V-8 in it. It was the best of both worlds.”

Unfortunately, Samouce didn’t get to enjoy it for many years.

“I wrecked it in 1995,” he said. “I always missed it.”

It took more than a decade before Samouce could find and buy another one. Production of the Sunbeam Tiger in England lasted only four years in the mid 1960s. Samouce said a little more than 7,000 Sunbeams were built.

Samouce found what he was looking for in 2008. He saw it on eBay and flew out to New Hampshire to view it. He liked what he saw in the 1966 Sunbeam Tiger and purchased it.

“It was in OK condition,” Samouce said. “It had the original engine in it, which is a Ford 260. I pulled that engine out. I am restoring it to original.

“What it has now is a Ford 347, which puts out about 450 horsepower. My power needs have been met.”

Samouce uses the car in a variety of ways. He races it. He drag races it, including once at Heartland Park in Topeka. Samouce also drives it long distances to car shows.

“I have gone to shows as far as Maine and Canada,” Samouce said. “I have gone to a lot of shows around here. I am not afraid to drive it 800 miles to a car show although I am getting a little old for that.”

To make those long drives a little easier on his legs, Samouce installed cruise control.

When he is driving his Sunbeam Tiger, Samouce doesn’t have a radio to distract him.

“The engine is my radio,” he said. “I enjoy the scenery and listening to the engine. It also has a hard top, which isn’t on it right now. I put that on for long trips.”

Because the car is so rare, it draws plenty of attention when Samouce has it on the road.

“I get a lot of good reactions from other drivers – thumbs up,” Samouce said.

Samouce wouldn’t mind having a few more vintage sports cars. He has his eye on four or five that he would like to own. But there is one obstacle preventing him from buying them.

“My wife won’t let me,” Samouce said with a smile.

Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com

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