1979 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

Lot Number: 802

1979 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus

A well restored example of one of the most exciting hot hatches to emerge from the late 1970s.

  • Sold for: £42,750

LIVE AUCTION: This lot was auctioned on Saturday 20th May, 2023 at 1.00pm BST at Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell, Northampton, NN6 0BN

  • Body Colour

    Embassy Black and Silver

  • Drive


  • Registration Number


  • Odometer Reading

    66000 Miles


A well restored example of one of the most exciting hot hatches to emerge from the late 1970s.


The Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was originally conceived when Chrysler Group's competition manager, Des O'Dell, decided that there was a need for the company to create a car that would be competitive in International 'Group 4' rallying. The Sunbeam 1.6 GLS appeared to be their most relevant product, so he approached Lotus and offered them one as a basis. Lotus Engineering rose to the challenge and within a couple of months had developed the GLS into a potential winner. As well as their expertise, Lotus' supplied the 2.2 type-911 version of their 16-valve, four-cylinder engine coupled to a 5-speed ZF dog-leg gearbox, and also engineered a number of chassis and exhaust system improvements aimed squarely at beating the dominant Escort RS and Vauxhall Chevette HS/HSRs at their own game.

Lotus' efforts were rewarded in 1980 when a Sunbeam piloted by Henri Toivonen won the RAC Rally of Great Britain, and indeed, this would be the last time a rear-wheel-drive car ever took the title. In 1981, the Constructor's World Championship was claimed by Sunbeam for the newly christened 'Talbot' team (having been renamed by new owners Peugeot in 1979).

Homologation rules at the time dictated that for a new car to be eligible to compete internationally, it would also have to be offered to the general public and sold in a specified minimum number. In order to comply with this requirement, Talbot set up a separate production line at their Linwood factory to fabricate the body shells which would then be shipped directly to Ludham Airfield where Lotus would fit the engine, suspension, and gearbox etc. These road-going Talbot Sunbeam Lotus 'homologation specials' were more than just fast, they certainly looked the part as well. Initially, they were offered only in Embassy Black with Silver stripes and sporting a brace of Marchal spotlights and bespoke 'double four-spoke' cast alloy wheels. Launched to an eager public in 1979, the 2,174cc twin-cam engine, breathing through twin Dell'Orto carburetors developed 150bhp and delivered excellent performance.

Finished in Embassy Black and Silver, this Talbot Sunbeam Lotus was originally supplied to Jersey and was first registered on 1st April 1979. It's a matching numbers car and is in superb condition throughout having been fully restored and upgraded in recent years. With a high-quality finish in mind, the car's current custodian has completed a no-expense rebuild with a full engine overhaul by Andrew Jones at Shrigley Engineering  which included a Tony Law manifold and a lightweight flywheel and clutch. Further upgrades include a Quaife differential, a suspension upgrade incorporating Gaz front coil-overs, Bilstein rear dampers and improved braking with Wilwood front brake calipers.  It should also be noted that competition-style front seats are currently fitted with the originals to accompany the car should they be required, however, these will require refinishing prior to being refitted.

Despite dating from the late 1970s, these little Sunbeams are still considered a truly thrilling drive, set apart from most by their rear-wheel drive balance, beautifully weighted controls, overall lightness and surprisingly rapid pace.

NB: Please note, this vehicle has arrived in the UK under ‘temporary admission’, upon successful sale and if remaining in the UK, the seller has agreed to settle import taxes due and obtain ‘NOVA Certification’ to enable UK registration.


Lot Number
Registration Number
Chassis Number
Engine Number
Body Colour
Embassy Black and Silver



For further information regarding this lot please contact Charles.




All cars must be removed from the venue between 9am – 2pm on Monday 22nd May. Full payment must be received before any items are available to be released.

Our transport partner, EM Rogers, can assist with collection and delivery. Please contact them on +44 (0) 1604 755511 or trafficdesk@emrogers.co.uk for a quote.

Any cars not collected by 2pm on Monday 22nd May will be taken to EM Rogers storage facility in Northampton for a fee of £175 + VAT. Storage will be charged at £10 + VAT per day from the Monday onwards.

A member of the administration team will contact you to confirm your transport plans after the auction. If we do not hear back from you by 9am on Monday 22nd May, we will arrange for our transport partners to collect the vehicle on your behalf.


Automobilia can be collected from the auction hall on the day of the auction, between 9.30am and 5pm on Sunday 21st May or on Monday 22nd May between 9am and midday by prior appointment. After this time, it can be collected from our offices in Warwickshire or shipped to you at your expense.

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