Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
ADVERT ID: 29173
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Talbot Sunbeam Lotus – A well restored example of one of the most exciting hot hatches to emerge from the late seventies.
The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was originally conceived when Chrysler Group’s competition manager, Des O’Dell, decided that there was a need for the company to create a car that would be competitive in International ‘Group 4′ rallying. The Sunbeam 1.6 GLS appeared to be their most relevant product, so he approached Lotus and offered them one as a basis. Lotus Engineering rose to the challenge and within a couple of months had developed the GLS into a potential winner. As well as their expertise, Lotus’ supplied the 2.2 type-911 version of their 16valve, four-cylinder engine coupled to a 5-speed ZF dog-leg gearbox, and also engineered a number of chassis and exhaust system improvements aimed squarely at beating the dominant Escort RS and Vauxhall Chevette HS/HSRs at their own game.
Lotus’ efforts were rewarded in 1980 when a Sunbeam piloted by Henri Toivonen won the RAC Rally of Great Britain, and indeed, this would be the last time a rear-wheel-drive car ever took the title. In 1981, the Constructor’s World Championship was claimed by Sunbeam for the newly christened ‘Talbot’ team (having been renamed by new owners Peugeot in 1979).
Homologation rules at the time dictated that for a new car to be eligible to compete internationally, it would also have to be offered to the general public and sold in a specified minimum number. In order to comply with this requirement, Talbot set up a separate production line at their Linwood factory to fabricate the body shells which would then be shipped directly to Ludham Airfield where Lotus would fit the engine, suspension, and gearbox etc. These road-going Talbot Sunbeam Lotus ‘homologation specials’ were more than just fast, they certainly looked the part as well. Initially, they were offered only in Embassy Black with Silver stripes and sporting a brace of Marchal spotlights and bespoke “double four-spoke’ cast alloy wheels. Launched to an eager public in 1979, the 2174cc twin-cam engine, breathing through twin Dell’Orto carburetors developed 150bhp and delivered excellent performance.
Finished in Embassy Black and Silver, this Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was originally supplied to Jersey and was first registered on the 1st of April 1979. It’s a matching numbers car and is in superb condition throughout having been fully restored and upgraded in recent years. With a high-quality finish in mind, the car’s current custodian has completed a no-expense rebuild with a full engine overhaul by Andrew Jones at Shrigley Engineering which included a Tony Law manifold and a lightweight flywheel and clutch. Further upgrades include a Quaife differential, a suspension upgrade incorporating Gaz front coil-overs, Bilstein rear dampers and improved braking with Wilwood front brake calipers. It should also be noted that competition-style front seats are currently fitted with the originals to accompany the car should they be required, however, these will require refinishing prior to being refitted.
Despite dating from the late seventies, these little Sunbeams are still considered a truly thrilling drive, set apart from most by their rear-wheel drive balance, beautifully weighted controls, overall lightness and surprisingly rapid pace.
SUPERCAR FEST SALE OF ICONIC AND CLASSIC CARS 2023
We are now inviting entries for our Sale of Iconic, Classic and Supercars at Supercar Fest on Saturday 20th May at Sywell Aerodrome. Supercar Fest, now it its fifth year, is growing into one of the leading dynamic supercar events in the UK with more supercars and more action! This year we are delighted to announce that our Sale will also incorporate a special Sale of Ferraris in association with the Ferrari Owners’ Club GB.