AUGUST 30, 2013 (SEPT 2013): WE “GOT SMART” AND GRABBED THE STORY BEHIND THIS BEAUTIFUL 1965 SUNBEAM TIGER

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Most people are aware of Maxwell Smart, the bumbling secret Agent 86 from the classic half hour comedy ‘Get Smart’.

 

The show was a weekly must-see on TV for every kid in the mid- 60s as well as the legion of young fans who watched the show in reruns for many years after its last episode aired in 1970.

 

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Get Smart debuted in 1965 during the height of James Bond mania (the Sean Connery version) and those of us from a certain age group can still recall how impressive the opening sequence for the early episodes looked when Max screeched up to a curb in a wild-looking sports car called a Sunbeam Tiger.

 

Sure ‘Get Smart’ was built strictly for laughs, but who among us was not impressed when Max used all of his spy gadgets, including his famous rotary dial shoe phone? A portable phone is nothing special in 2013, but the idea was very leading-edge and almost non-existent for the average person in the mid-60s.

 

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Sure a shoe phone would be a fairly ho-hum concept to today’s world, but a beautiful red 1965 Sunbeam Tiger will steal attention from nearly every other vehicle at a car show.

 

Tigers are rare, fast, very cool and Maxwell Smart drove one for the first few years of ‘Get Smart’. That was enough to make the cars a legend for a sizable crop of Baby Boomer fans.

 

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This summer we managed to cross paths with a Sunbeam Tiger just like Max’s and owned by a car guy who was old enough to remember the classic exact lookalike car from ‘Get Smart’.

 

Barry Nemeth was the proud owner of this Tiger and he was the right guy for the car because his interest in the car was also influenced by the TV show when he was a kid.

 

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The other part of the equation for many of us future car guys when we first saw the Sunbeam Tiger as kids was the car’s unique heritage.

 

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The overall style was all British with a Sunbeam Alpine body, but legendary builder Carroll Shelby added an American touch to the car under the hood with a small block Ford engine. Some of you may have heard of Shelby’s other British-American project sports car called the Cobra.

 

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Barry’s Tiger had a 260 Ford under the hood so his Tiger had plenty of horsepower in its tank. He is comfortable driving the car at 60-70 mph, it’s a “blast to drive” and he can “lay into it when I need to”, to quote Barry. He has taken his car to a few shows, including the Tiger United show where he grabbed third place in his class.

 

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Barry has owned the car for almost 20 years and he spent 5 years wrenching on it when he found a little spare time. The Tiger was his first attempt at restoration and we have to commend his efforts for a rookie re-builder because his car is an absolutely stunning restoration.

 

We at MSCC salute Barry for his very cool car choice.

 

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Sure we have a massive amount of envy because he is the proud owner of a car just like Maxwell Smart’s but, as we said earlier; he is the right guy to own a red Sunbeam Tiger just like Maxwell Smart’s.

 

Jim Sutherland

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