AN AUTOMOTIVE Design student from Coventry University has created renderings of the Sunbeam Tiger for 2025, which not only raises hopes of resurrecting the Wolverhampton based Sunbeam Motor Company, but also commemorates the centennial of the car that set a new land speed record in 1925.
Major Henry Segrave powered his 4-litre Sunbeam car called ‘Ladybird’ to a top speed of 152.33 miles per hour (mph) on March 16th, on the beach between Southport and the neighbouring borough of Birkdale. In 1990, the car broke the record once again, posting a top speed of 159mph, making it the smallest engine car to set and hold the land speed record.
22-year-old Ryan Skelley is in his final year, and although his design has the potential to easily set a new record, its source of power is very different to that of the original. The concept car – a two-seater electric roadster – is powered by a lithium battery pack that propels the Tiger from 0-60mph in 2.3 seconds before powering its way to a top speed of 160mph.
The car’s running costs are as equally impressive, with a full-charge of the battery enabling the car to travel a total distance of 800 miles before it needs to be ‘re-fuelled’. The choice of materials used is also a deliberate effort to keep weight to a minimum, with many being of little, if any harm to the environment.
The Tiger’s tubular frame is constructed from recycled aluminum, its panels are hemp derived, and the seats are formed using soy foam. Skelley, who is from Devon, admits that the underlying aim of the car is to “create a British roadster that would be the first of its kind”.
It has been a busy few months for Skelley, as he finishes off one car, and commences work on another as part of his final year degree show scheduled for the end of May. The electric-powered Bowler Raptor is a sports buggy inspired by the Dakar and Baja rally events, and like the Sunbeam Tiger, has been designed to accommodate two occupants only.
The Bowler’s ride height has been increased, and although the chassis is exposed to the elements because of minimal bodywork, closer examination of the buggy shows that Skelley has given ample consideration to underbody protection to help minimize damage sustained during competition.
Skelley’s inspiration for each vehicle has stemmed from his family’s active involvement with motorsport, as he explains: “My Dad and both of my Uncles build and race 4x4s. Well, I say race, but more often than not, they all generally end up in a bush or on the roof, but they introduced me to cars at a very early age, and for that, I’m very grateful!”