The bizarre automotive collaboration is nothing new. It seemingly goes from strength to strength, in fact, with the cars like the recently-launched Juke Kiiro - which is the second Batman-inspired Juke made by Nissan, thanks to their involvement with the franchise. Weird. But from Murcielago Versace Edition to Mini Goodwood and Fiat 500 Riva to VW Beetle Fender, the car world is crammed full of tie-ups that seem stranger and stranger with each passing year.
It's not a new phenomenon, either, as proven by the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus Avon Edition. Because that's not Avon as in the tyre maker; that's Avon as in Avon Coachworks, a coachbuilder founded shortly after WWI and operational in Warwick for more than 60 years after that. When the announcement came that production of the Sunbeam was being wound up, Avon acquired 150 of the final ones - it's still not entirely clearly why - to create its own final edition.
Even by the standards of the early 1980s, the Talbot was a raw, wild, visceral little scallywag of a car - its nature is a large part of why the Sunbeam is so adored. That and the videos of it sideways on every special stage. Avon's idea was to round off the rough edges, fitting its special edition with additional soundproofing, new trim and the most spectacular velour interior. The two-tone blue was also unique to the Avon Edition, one of two available colour schemes. Having put all this work in attempting to civilise the Talbot tearaway, the price asked was then less than a standard car, according to this Motor Sport review from April 1983. Just three years later, having apparently sold fewer than 60 special editions, Avon ceased trading - make of that what you will.
Nowadays, any kind of Sunbeam Lotus is exceptionally rare; the Avon Edition was a new one on us when it came up for sale, so it must be seldom seen. This one has been verified as a genuine car by the owner's club, and has seemingly been looked after with kid gloves since a restoration 10 years ago.
The Avon overhaul didn't touch the engine, so this one will still be snorting out in the region of 150hp from a 2.2 Lotus twin-cam, driving to the rear wheels via a five-speed dog-leg manual. Don't be concerned about the velour and the insulation dulling the drive, either - that 1983 review described the Avon Edition as "pure, uninhibited pleasure". Even with road noise "considerably reduced", the Sunbeam was still thought to be a "pretty noisy, tiring prospect for extended motorway cruising." And that was 40 years ago.
The Avon is still going to offer an authentic, unadulterated Sunbeam experience, then, now with the additional appeal of being even more exclusive than standard. This one is being sold at £49,995, which is surely a lot of money to anyone. But such is the reverence around the Sunbeam now; forever in the Escort's shadow, as the Ford skyrocketed in value it was inevitable that similar cars - look, too, at the Vauxhall Chevette - would follow. Not least given how crashable the Talbot, with its burly power and crude suspension, must have been. There just aren't that many left, and even fewer looking as beautifully preserved as this Avon Edition. The logic behind a velour-lined Lotus Sunbeam undoubtedly seems weirder than ever, but all these years later it makes for a spectacular hot hatch throwback.
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