Talbot Sunbeam (1977 – 1981)


Ever wondered what killed the traditional British Sports Car?

(Outside of shoddy workmanship, biblical unreliability, sheer impracticalness and utter stupidity in terms of design)

One of the regular Talbot Sunbeams, the humble hatchback for the masses.

The Hot Hatchback!

A Hot Hatchback is simply a small, practical little car with a rear hatch tailgate, but powered by high performance engines to give them a little more boost when on those tedious shopping or school runs. In the 1980’s the age of the Hot Hatchback was the biggest and most revolutionary change in the motoring world since the days of the classic Le Mans, with rebellious teenagers buying (but more often than not stealing) these relatively inexpensive, high power machines to show-off to their friends and of course, the ladies!

Many people however credit the Volkswagen Golf GTi as the car that spawned the Hot Hatchback generation, but it wasn’t, because this did, the Chrysler Sunbeam.

Sold under its various marques, the Chrysler Sunbeam took a fairly basic Talbot bodyshell and implanted it with a 155bhp 16V Lotus Slant-4 engine, producing an

The rally stage was truly where the Sunbeam made a name for itself, seen here at the 1981 World Rally Championship.

astonishing top speed of 125mph and a 0-60mph of 8.3 seconds. Because of this mixture of power, practicality and performance, the car sold massively, and even spawned a rally version known as the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, which raked in victory after victory at the 1979 Manx Rally Championship under the command of world renowned rally driver Tony Pond, who had traded in his modified Triumph TR7 V8 to try out something a bit more maneuverable. At the same time the car was treated to critical acclaim by the motoring press for its handling and gutsy power.

After this, nearly every other car manufacturer went on to create their own versions of the Hot Hatchback throughout the 1980’s. Vauxhall gave us the Chevette RS, Volkswagen gave us the Golf GTi, FIAT gave us the Strada Abarth and Alfa Romeo would have given us the best handling of the lot with the Alfasud, but the only problem is it wasn’t a hatch, nor was it particularly hot.

However, with the availability of these cheap and cheery cars, problems began to brew. During the 1980’s the cars easy availability meant they were often used by the criminal classes as getaway cars for burglary, as well as for Ram-Raiding supermarkets. As things

While Talbot’s were never known for their external looks extending beyond a box, the Sunbeam compensated with its magnificent power.

became more and more intense, insurance companies upped the costs for people owning or wishing to buy Hot Hatches, and in the 1990’s it was near impossible for teenagers to get their hands on the slew of hotties being produced throughout the decade. It was only recently that costs for hot hatchbacks have gone back down and thus there’s been a real resurgence in both the ownership and the production of these machines.

I too have a hatch, a Citroen C2 for that matter! :D

But it’s not really that hot (which is probably why I could never pull girls when I was in my teens, not that that was my prime objective in life…) :S