The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was born out of Chrysler's desire in the UK to inject some drama into its battle-destroyed image. In 1977, when Chrysler UK competition manager Des O'Dell started looking for substitutes for the Tiger and BRM versions of the Avenger, he did not fail to notice that the once dominant Ford Escort RS was starting to see some competition serious in the form of the Vauxhall Chevette HS. This car's recipe for success was clear for all to see: a 2.3-liter, 16-valve engine coupled to a short, rigid three-door body with rear-wheel drive.

The replacement for the Avenger Tiger was the Sunbeam ti, while the BRM would be more difficult to replace, but in the end, he came up with the idea of ​​approaching Lotus with its inclined 16-valve engine. Therefore, its replacement for the Hillman Avenger Tiger was based on its new Sunbeam supermini. Lotus was happy to supply engines and assist in the development of Chrysler's new rally gun, and in 1978, the first 2.0-liter prototype appeared - to be driven competitively by Tony Pond. However, without major shakes in terms of reliability, it was, however, fast and agile. Lotus provided an expanded version of its engine for use on Sunbeam (which later appeared on its own models), and reliability followed.

Launched in 1979 in turbulent times

An agreement was made to place the Sunbeam Lotus in limited production (in order to meet FIA homologation regulations) and at the Geneva Motor Show in April 1979 - and in the middle of a conversation about a Peugeot acquisition crisis - has been revealed to the public. Resplendent in its black color scheme with silver stripes and Lotus alloy wheels, it looked fabulous - and unobtrusive compared to the previous sports flagship, the Sunbeam ti. One wonders if the product planners mixed the exterior schemes of the extroverted ti and the subtle Lotus, although ...

These Talbot Sunbeam Lotus' homologation promotions on the road would prove to be more than quick, they would certainly look like the piece too. Initially, they were offered only at Embassy Black with silver stripes and sported a Marchal reflector strap and tailored 'double spoke' alloy wheels. The new model should have been a resounding success, but the ongoing fuel crisis has hit demand for all larger engine cars, and despite a projected production of 4500, the Sunbeam Lotus was called up after 2308.

Lotus took a 1.6GLS hull and installed a 2.2-liter Type 911 version of the 16-valve Lotus four-cylinder engine and a five-speed ZF gearbox. The name Lotus received special prominence on the Chrysler pentastar. However, a few weeks after launch, this was replaced by Talbot 'T', as Chrysler Europe was renamed by PSA (Peugeot) for Talbot. Still, the sunshine was great. The Lotus 2174cc two-chamber engine from Lotus breathed through two two-cylinder Dell'Orto carburetors, developed 150 hp and provided excellent performance.

Hundreds of miles without driving ...
Homologation rules at the time determined that for a new car to be eligible to compete internationally, it would also have to be offered to the general public and sold at a specified minimum number. To meet this requirement, Talbot set up a separate production line at its plant in Linwood, Scotland, to manufacture the body housings that would be shipped directly to Ludham Airfield, where Lotus would fit the engine, suspension and gearbox etc. .

The production process for the Sunbeam Lotus was interesting and it is obvious why so few were made. Each car started life at Linwood as a 1.6GLS, but received stricter cushioning and cushioning, along with a 10% larger anti-roll bar, stiffer suspension mounts and sturdier gearboxes at the factory. The cars were then sent to Lotus in Hethel, Norfolk, for the installation of its ZF engine and gearbox, before being sent to Stoke's Coventry facility for final inspections before delivery.

It may have been a complicated production process, but the end result was an impressive road car.

What the testers said
Performance was fast; Autocar magazine tested the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus (which ironically carried the Chrysler and Talbot emblems) in the fall of 1979 and could not stop bragging: 'it is clear that, due to its size, the Sunbeam is not a miniature car that saves space, but the magnificent quantity and the spread of brutal desire is not associated with anything less than the dying American V8s. When it's hot - it doesn't take long after the unusually easy start to use the usual Weber accelerator pump technique (three high presses of the accelerator pedal) - the way the engine delivers at comparatively low speeds is pure and rude satisfaction. '

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