SPOTTED: TALBOT SUNBEAM LOTUS
Expensive, yes, but not compared with an equivalent Escort...
Then there was the Sunbeam. The styling may have been criminally staid but it could still show cars 20 years its junior a clean set of heels. Looking at the basic stats it isn't hard to see why; the 2.2-litre Lotus Twin Cam engine made just over 150hp had to push along just 960kg.
The claimed 0-60mph times were around seven seconds, which made it rapid on launch, at the turn of the millennium and, despite the advent of hatches like the Audi RS3, still fairly quick now.
Of course, it was the iconic VW that went on to be the genre-defining hatch (and be found much higher up Clarkson's list), but the rallying justification behind the Sunbeam's inception paid off; it was the last car without 4WD to win the RAC rally, in 1982.
If all that makes you want a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus like I do, it seems unlikely you'll find a better example than this 1983 car. Part of the last 150, it was intended to be retrimmed and resprayed as a run-out 'Avon' special, but only 56 of those cars were ever made.
So it's 'just' a regular Moonstone Blue car, but one that's only covered 26,000 miles under a single owner in 30 years. Taken off the road just four years after the original purchase, a full restoration was recently commissioned by the selling dealer to restore its former glory. Details are scarce in the advert, but the pictures imply this is an almost showroom-fresh Lotus.
Ford Escort RS2000 has covered even fewer miles than the Sunbeam, but is unrestored. It is currently up at £45,000. This rare Audi Quattro MB has been subject to a mechanical refresh, but it's £4,000 more than the Lotus and has covered more than 100,000 miles!
Alright, it's not quite as revered as those two rally legends, but the very fact it isn't lends the Lotus a quirky appeal. It's an engineering oddball in the best sense, and looks great fun to boot.
TALBOT SUNBEAM LOTUS
Engine: 2170cc, four-cylinder
Transmission: Five-speed manual, RWD
Power (hp): 152@5,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 150@4,500rpm
Recorded mileage: 26,000
First registered: 08/03/1983
Price new: £6,995
Yours for: £19,980
See the original advert here
And if you want to learn more about the car you do worse than have a look at the very authoritative Sunbeam Lotus Owners Club website. Or watch this video of Henri Toivonen putting it through its paces...