Late in the old year Chrysler’s press information service confirmed that the United Kingdom arm of Peugeot-Citroen and Lotus Cars Ltd. would “co-operate in the production of a high-performance version of the best selling Chrysler Sunbeam. The car will go on sale in the United Kingdom and Europe during 1979.”
The contract that the two companies have signed calls for the production of slightly over 4,000 vehicles in all, considerably more than the 400 required as a minimum for homologation and consequent competition use in Group 4.
We discussed the development of the rallying version of this car in last month’s issue, but the roadgoing version is a very exciting small Saloon car too.
Instead of taking the easy way out and using the ordinary 2-litre Lotus 907 engine of 2-litres and 16 valves, Chrysler have elected to plump for that large number of cars with 2.2-litre engines. This means using a new crankshaft and is a much more expensive way of doing things: all we can say at this stage is that Chrysler and Lotus have put together a new standard in small car motoring, at least that is so, judged by the prototypes.
Inevitably comparisons will be made with Vauxhall’s RWD hatchback, the HS2300. The Sunbeam Lotus is likely to benefit from a design team geared further toward sporting motoring, for Lotus and Chrysler’s competition department are putting in the bulk of pre-production mileage.
As in the case of the Vauxhall, a five-speed gearbox will be part of the roadgoing specification. Though one tends to think of these ZF units as rough, tough, rallying units, the change, even on the rally car tried last month, was one of the smoothest and easiest encountered for some time. – J.W.