It's probably no secret that I like cars that have either been forgotten or weren't particularly good in the first place. Largely, those two tend to go hand in hand. I've got one of those. It's pretty terrible by all means. Remarkably, there was a good car with a Talbot badge. I swear. No, it's not a ruddy Tagora. Those are ugly and awful. Did I mention ugly? It was 1981, rallying was still shy of the mercurial Group B era, and the smell of Bovril filled the air. It's cold, damp, and completely insufferable, but all entirely worth it for a glimpse of driving greatness. Trust me this is going somewhere.
What won the 1981 WRC? Why it was a raucous, Lotus built, RWD, Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. Here it is all next to photographic proof that it did indeed win something. I'm not crazy.
I'm sure most of you are hanging on the Lotus connection. For what it's worth, the Chrysler/Talbot (the Talbot badge appearing after Peugeot's purchase of Chrysler Europe) Sunbeam wasn't particularly interesting apart from the fact it was RWD. This instantly makes this car far more awesome than it should be, if only because of how exploitable its platform is. Chrysler went straight to Lotus to make a rally version turning this otherwise boring lump into a true hot hatch. In went Lotus' Type 911 2.2 liter 4 cylinder, along with race suspension and a hell of a lot of driving lights. ALL OF THE DRIVING LIGHTS.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately in my case, Chrysler Europe never released the car before being sold off. Peugeot was more or less gifted a rally program with a 250 hp pocket rocket. While at the hands Henri Toivonen, these things slowly pushed their way up the leader board finally culminating in the 1981 Constructors Championship after two years of ups and downs. 11 whole points above Datsun. Datsun! Maybe not that impressive, but I'll still gloat.
Fortunately, a road version detuned to 150hp was released for us Jalops. Here it is looking all smart with blue or black paintwork and Lotus markings.
Heck, even Tiff Needell had quite a go in one:
Good luck finding one that isn't quite pricey, but they're truly lovely cars, if only forgotten by many enthusiasts. I suppose this will be a future purchase of mine. I can't see anything going wrong with this infatuation.
All photo/video credits to their respective owners