Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus

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Keywords: sunbeam lotus owners' club, talbot sunbeam, talbot lotus, lotus sunbeam, talbot sport, chrysler sunbeam, talbot sunbeam lotus, sunbeam 2.2, lotus 911, 900 series engine, type 81
Description: Sunbeam Lotus Owners' Club

The Chrysler Sunbeam first appeared with three engine variants, 930cc, 1300cc and 1600cc; the former derived from a Hillman Imp engine (itself based on a Coventry Climax fire pump!) and the larger sizes from the Avenger range. The sporty end of the market was soon catered for with the 1600cc Ti model ("Twin Induction"), which boasted alloy wheels, sports seats (with tartan trim), side stripes and front & rear spoilers (although these were more for show than for function). 100bhp and 0-60mph in under 10 seconds was very respectable in the late seventies, but Competitions Manager Des O'Dell knew from his experience with Avengers that this was insufficient to mount a serious challenge in the rallying world - he was desperate to build a machine capable of beating the Ford RS Escorts and Vauxhall HS Chevettes.

Des had already spotted the potential of the Sunbeam but was on the lookout for serious power. Nothing in the Chrysler range was likely to prove adequate and he had already dabbled with outside help from BRM without the success that he craved. Suddenly an obvious solution presented itself; Lotus had been supplying 2 litre engines to Jensen Healey, who had recently ceased trading. Des's deputy, Wynne Mitchell, contacted his old college friend Mike Kimberley at Lotus and Des was straight in to seal a deal. Initially he returned to Coventry with two engines - a standard 160bhp 2 litre and a modified version producing over 230bhp. The former went into the only vehicle at his disposal, a red Avenger, for testing and showing off to the management before finally being fitted to a Sunbeam, while the race version found its way into a rally-prepared Sunbeam, WRW 30S. Testing began in earnest and the car competed in several events where homologation was not required. Andrew Cowan did the competitive driving while Bernard Unett carried out development testing.

Lotus subsequently developed their engine into a 2.2 litre unit designated type 911 of the following specification:-



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