Cooling a Tiger

Mar 23, 2008 update to the Sunbeam Tiger project car

Our Griffin radiator fit beautifully

The Tiger is known for inadequate cooling. For an idea, combine a big engine with a marginal radiator. Now place them in a car with very little space under the hood for air to flow in and out. Cooling problems are sure to develop.

The factory formulated what they called the LAT (Los Angeles Tiger) fiberglass hood, which featured an air scoop. While the air scoop looked cool and was somewhat helpful, what was of perhaps greater help were the two big air ducts at the back of the LAT hood that let hot air escape the engine compartment.

The downside of the LAT hood was that they were rather flimsy, fit poorly and in some owner’s—including this one—minds, were a detriment to the smooth conservative styling of the Sunbeam Tiger.

So, we sought another remedy to the Tiger’s near legendary overheating problem.

We contacted Ron Davis Racing Radiators in Arizona. The shop builds a beautiful and rather large aluminum radiator for a Tiger. While initially we felt the radiator would fit wonderfully, when we actually got the car together, we were dismayed to find that the nearly one inch of additional thickness present in the Ron Davis radiator was barely going to clear the fan. Plus, it would absolutely not clear the revised MG Midget rack we put into our car to solve another Tiger problem, poor steering geometry.

So, out came the Ron Davis radiator and in went a Griffin radiator. Griffin, a respected radiator builder from Piedmont, South Carolina, has a beautifully made radiator that is only about 2.75” thick and fits a Tiger like a glove. While not as huge as the Ron David radiator, it has the advantage of fitting our car. We hope it improves cooling capacity.

The next cooling system modification we made was to change the mechanical fan. The original Tiger has a wholly inadequate four blade fan that doesn’t pull enough air through the radiator to cool much of anything, never mind the over 400 horsepower stroked 289 we built for our car. Back in the early ‘70s, certain Ford Mavericks with air conditioning were equipped with a very strong five blade fan. While somewhat rare today, we managed to find one of these fans at the Rootes Group Depot. Depending on how high your engine is located in the engine compartment, you may need to trim a quarter of an inch from each blade to clear the steering rack, but one look at this fan will tell you that it will move a lot more air.

To finish things off, we reinstalled the original fan shroud (a very important step in Tiger cooling) and added Redline Oil’s Water Wetter to our cooling system. This amazing product actually adheres itself to the water molecules in your radiator. According to the manufacturer, it doubles the cooling capacity of ordinary water.


Comments

Apr 7, 2008 4:57 p.m.
Duke66Tiger:
Here is a very good article on solving the cooling problems of the Tiger - http://www.teae.org/cooling/cooling_article.html I have implemented most of them and my car is running cool and happy. Blocking your horn holes will be a great benefit. Great job with this car and I greatly look forward to my next issue of CM which will feature the car.
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