The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus: A wolf in sheepskin

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
ER Classics Desktop 2022

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 and the threat that they would be the first to be closed or repelled hit like a bomb. Under that harsh Chrysler position, the British government decided to make state investments, provided that a new Sunbeam model would be released. Chrysler UK was rescued and a new, compact hatchback was developed at a rapid pace. The project started 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 bodywork, which for the most part was equipped with the Avenger material that is so well known to O'Dell. For the required muscles, he asked Lotus for the long-stroke blocks from the Elites / Eclats and convinced the bodywork of the new Horizons to accept that gift. And so the Chrysler Sunbeam Lotus was developed and the Chrysler management was persuaded to do a small series of to produce this Lotus version, in order to be able to participate in international rallies first in Group 4 and later in Group 2. Because only then could the brand be saved. Yet? The result was inexorably a blow to the sporty Escorsts and Chevettes. And in its version for the public highway, for the ordinary buyers, little had been made with regard to the combat machines.

Fast and noisy

Such a bulderbox ran almost 200 km / h and the passengers would know that too. The engine noise in the interior was phenomenal. And the brutal way in which the rather angular coach wiggled through the wind was also a guarantee for a lot of noise. The five-speed gearbox shifted somewhat vague, but that was a matter of getting used to. In terms of driving technology, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus behaved like a go-kart on a clay court. Fortunately, the driver and co-driver were seated in comfortable bucket seats. And that the chassis derived from the Avenger was having a pretty difficult time with all that Lotus violence? Then he would have had to continue 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


Give a reaction

Give an answer

The email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 8 MB. you can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

Now in store

View the 40-page preview via or a click on the cover.

The July issue, containing:

  • Back in AMK after 27 years: Fiat 124 Sport Spider
  • Chevrolet Apache 3200, authentic workhorse
  • Editorial transport: Cadillac Allante
  • Honda CRX 1.4 GL in detail
  • Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, a dream engine
  • What did the playmates from Playboy?
  • Jawa 150 cc, originally delivered in the Netherlands
  • Duplicate type designations - Part XV
cover 7 2022 300

The perfect reading material for an evening or more of undisturbed dreaming. It is now in stores. A subscription is of course better, because then you will no longer miss a number and you are also € 27 cheaper. Not bad in these expensive times.


Holiday memories: Soil investigation


Holiday memories: Authority is good