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Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus Published: 13th Jul 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
Talbot Sunbeam Lotus
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Colin Chapman saw the Sunbeam Lotus as the successor to his iconic Cortina but the Lotus link failed to woo enthusiasts away from their frontwheel drive hot hatchbacks even though it packs real pedigree; having an enviable competition history culminating in winning the Lombard RAC Rally in 1980 and World Rally Championship in ’81 crushing Quattros along the way. Even now they sell for a fraction on what hot Escorts go for and yet it’s a more polished package.

Driving

Typically old school with 155bhp up front, fed to the rear, the driving experience of this Elise weighing lightweight can be likened to the Cortina namesake, far more sophisticated but still with plenty of oversteer opportunities. As soon as you fire up the raw four you can tell this car is something special, with an urgent beat reverberating throughout the car – performance figures when new saw 0-60 despatched in less than 8 seconds so quicker than the original Esprit.

The noisy five-speed gearbox features a ‘dog-leg’ first and takes some bonding with but it’s not as though you’ve got to row the car along on the gears anyway, such is the added torque of the 2.2-litre Lotus engine that Talbot used first.

This car really is the embodiment of a modern Lotus Cortina but faster, grippier and with its hatch more practical and not so precious to use to the full when having fun.

Values

Prices have risen sharply but at around £15,000 for a good one and £7500 for a ropey alternative, it’s still cheaper than fast Fords and about the third of the price of a Mk1 Cortina Lotus. Avon models don’t really command a premium but a lot depends on how original and intact any car for sale still is, a point worth remembering if it’s a rally car converted back to road spec. Converted cars worth less.

Timeline

1979 Talbot Sunbeam Ti débuts, featuring a 100bhp 1.6-litre with twin DCOE Webers. It looked the part with its alloy wheels, striped paintwork and spoilers, but Talbot’s competitions manager Des O’Dell knew it was never going to win any prizes in international rallying; something more serious was needed

Jul 1979 The Talbot Sunbeam- Lotus arrives, available in black only and with the 2.2-litre Lotus twin-cam giving a reliable 230bhp for competition use or 155bhp in road trim

1981 The series 2 appears, with larger headlamps, a fresh grille, tinted glass and a larger fuel tank but production ends, in May, Lotus claiming to have built 2298 examples; Talbot claimed an extra 10 were produced

1983 There are still lots of unsold cars, so 58 are retrimmed and repainted by Avon Coachworks as a special edition Avon model

Best models

Lotus

Not that many around now so it’s case of what you can get but restorations will still outweigh their current values. S2 cars the nicest

Avon

Avon added interior touches and badges plus special colour choices. Registration numbers ran from DDU 1Y to DDU 150Y and DAC 2Y to DAC 141Y if still original

Competition

Rallying success means there’s almost as much chance of finding a competition car and don’t be surprised to find homespun conversions especially if badged Chrysler

Top five faults

Rust

Key spots are the sills, rear wheelarches, rear quarter panels, front wings, windscreen surround and spare wheel well. Original panels are very hard to source and while repro panels are generally available, they’re costly

Stress

Really hard driven cars with more grunt have been known to suffer from cracks in the front chassis members, just to the rear of the anti-roll bar mounts. Usually serious so make sure you don’t miss them if hidden by underseal. Welding plates can solve the problem, but the whole crossmember may need replacing

Engine

Robust but look for a smokey exhaust, water and oil leaks plus low oil pressure. Also ensure the cam belt and tensioner have been replaced

Running gear

The ZF gearbox can be noisy but long-lived although rebuilds are costly. Suspension is Avenger derived; just the usual checks TRIM A lot is particular to this model and as such hard to track down, more so the Avon versions. http://www.asoc. co.uk/sunbeam-lotus and sunbeamlotus.com can help



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