I was studying a degree in Motorsport Engineering & Design in 2001 and had been working that summer at Linstone Classics for work experience preparing classic racing cars. The owner, Mark, had a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus.
I hadn’t heard much about these little cars, but after a little research I realised that it was a homologation special produced for the World Rally Championship in 1978. After going for a quick blast I realised just how quick the thing was. To be competitive, Chrysler approached Lotus for an engine that would help them to compete against the legendary Ford Escort RS. Lotus came up with the goods – the 2.2 litre from the Esprit.
My Uni flatmate Roger fell in love with the car so much he bought it from Mark. It was a bit rough, with more holes than metal, and plenty of issues. The next 2 years were spent hooning around Swansea with the Talbot Lotus being used for communal errands. Sadly it failed its MOT big time and a decision was made to strip it down to pieces and restore it. Life gets in the way and 15 years later, Roger hadn’t made much progress. I offered to help and so we split the ownership 50/50. Over the next 3 years we would slowly restore the car between other projects, finally finishing the job in 2020 – 19 years after buying it and 17 years after it last turned a wheel!
The engine is the only real Lotus part of this car, and it is a beauty. Sure it has its quirks and issues – such as oil pump and location – but the noise and power of the thing is unreal. This one is running around 210bhp on twin 45 Dellorto carbs. We’ve had to put the ‘quiet’ exhaust on the car as the sports exhaust was starting to cause complaints! There’s nothing like opening up that engine in an 850kg car with no driver assistance.
My favourite driving roads? The Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the cattle) to Applecross in Wester Ross, Highlands, Scotland