Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. A wolf in sheepskin

Auto Motor Klassiek » Motorsport » Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. A wolf in sheepskin
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It is the colors that matter to him. Plus the thick wheels. But otherwise you would think that you are facing a faceless middle class hatchback. But of course we are looking at a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.

It started when there was another crisis in the British car industry

Around 1970 the name of the Rootes Group was changed to Chrysler UK and the Sunbeam 1250 / 1500, the Avenger, was introduced. At first this model did not sell badly, but because of (among other things) strikes and the oil crisis of 1973 Chrysler Europe got into trouble. In very serious difficulties.

"Do or die"

The British factories were the biggest pain point and the threat that they would be the first to be closed or closed down hit like a bomb. Under Chrysler's harsh stance, the British government decided to invest in government if a new Sunbeam model were to be released. Chrysler UK was saved and a new, compact hatchback was developed at a rapid pace. The project was launched under the code name 424.

The desired concept, a hatchback with front-wheel drive, was not feasible due to high development costs. The designers were instructed not only to use the Avenger's technology, but also to use as much sheet metal as possible. The bottom, the doors and parts of the front were taken over from the Avenger, the rear was completely adapted to a then modern, sleek hatchback.

A rally weapon

In the meantime, people in Great Britain were already experimenting with a Lotus version of the Sunbeam hatchback prepared by the Competition Center for participation in international rally sport. Dess O'Dell, Chrysler's competition manager, had been making a successful rally weapon for years. but that would not work. With the arrival of the Sunbeam hatchback, O'Dell saw his chances of success grow and develop a new Group 2 car.

Based on Avenger components

A big advantage was the compact body, which was largely equipped with the Avenger material so well-known for O'Dell. For the necessary muscles, he asked Lotus for the long-stroke blocks from the Elites/Eclats and convinced the body of the new Horizons to accept that gift. And so the Chrysler Sunbeam Lotus was developed and the Chrysler management was persuaded to start producing a small series of this Lotus version, in order to participate in international rallies first in Group 4 and later in Group 2. Because only in this way could the brand be saved. However? The result was an inexorable blow to all sporting Escorts and Chevettes. And in its road-going design, for the common buyers, little had been done in terms of concessions compared to the combat machines.

Fast and noisy

Such a bulderboxje ran almost 200 km/h and the occupants would know that too. The engine noise in the interior was phenomenal. And the brutal way in which the rather angular carriage pushed through the wind was also a guarantee for a lot of noise. The five-speed gear shifted somewhat vaguely, but that was a matter of getting used to. Technically, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus behaved like a go-kart on a gravel track. Fortunately, the driver and co-driver sat firmly in high-backed bucket seats. And that the chassis derived from the Avenger had a hard time with all that Lotus violence? Then he should have kept learning!

Some info
Engine: four-cylinder 2174 cc, approx. 150 pk @ 5750 rpm, 0-100 in 6,5 sec, length 3,8 m, weight 982 kg


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  1. Nice and not at all a bad car. Was quite modern for that time and this Lotus version was just great!
    “faceless middle-class hatchback”, well a Golf GTI did not immediately look very impressive without a nameplate. This Lotus was just a neat appearance at the time, nothing wrong with it.

  2. Ever had a Chrysler Simca Sunbeam 1.6 Ti...Bought new and the little brother of the Lotus but just as nice...about 100 hp and with DellOrtos and open air filters...Build quality bad but nicer than a Golf Gti at the time...Think there are only very very few survived the time unfortunately..

    Sun beam 1.6 TI

  3. The combination of a lot of power in a silly jacket has my sympathy and appeals to my idea of ​​irony. Potential instead of pretense. An example would be a ribbed hood duck with a pipped GS block. And so on.

    For example, I think back with a smile to a young IT guy who put a lot of money into an indefinable semi-compact American automobile, which had little or no bling attached to it; even the dark blue paint had to do without sparkle. He put a lot of effort into finding and mounting a towbar, for a conscious utility appearance, but of course always handy. And standard steel rims of course. But under the hood there was more than 400 horsepower, and with the installation of recently imported headers, the big-block had against 500 horses.
    They were occasionally released, if the road situation lent itself to it. And then he preferably had a Porsche owner as a playmate. So 'catch' such a German low-flyer in the left lane, and then after various light signals from the vehicle behind, step on the gas a little deeper, taking the Porsche along in speed. At about 180 km/h (below the rear wheels broke out) the carburettors were completely opened to see the Porsche or other pretentious car shrink in the mirror with satisfaction………

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