Chrysler Sunbeam Reviews from UK and Ireland

1980 Chrysler Sunbeam Lotus 2.2

Model year1980
Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission 2.2 Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.0 / 10
Previous carChrysler Sunbeam

Summary:

Fastest 2WD non turbo hatch ever; you check the numbers

Faults:

Nothing has gone wrong with the car!

She has never let me down although I am my own mechanic, and so I keep a close eye on things.

Odometer didn't work when I bought the car so previous mileage unknown, but I've added about 15000 miles.

General Comments:

An awesome machine! Well, in the dry.

It's quite modified and processes fuel like you can't imagine (single figures are achievable), hence the low scores for comfort and running costs, but that isn't why you buy a Sunbeam Lotus.

The engine has a bad reputation for reliability, but when I used her daily she never let me down. The engine is perhaps more prone to neglect than others, hence the reputation.

Standard suspension is too soft (fit Bilsteins), and the car benefits from an LSD and lower profile tyres. A quick rack helps keep sideways moments (inevitable) enjoyable.

Performance is a strong point; no-one knows what it is, they just see a black blur as it goes by.

Mechanically it is the paragon of simplicity, and the only thing I don't like is the timing belt; give me a chain any day. Having said that, it's easy to replace.

Being in an owners club makes spares easier to find, and prices for anything except engine/gearbox are cheap.

The ultimate Sunbeam and I'll never sell her.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st January, 2005

1978 Chrysler Sunbeam Originally LS 1.6 originally 1.0

Year of manufacture1978
First year of ownership1991
Most recent year of ownership1999
Engine and transmission 1.6 originally 1.0 Manual
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10
Distance when acquired77000 miles
Most recent distance135000 miles

Summary:

Possibly the best small hatch ever

Faults:

Original 1.0L engine was rubbish - replaced with a 1.6 which I then tuned.

Rear suspension link collapsed.

Replaced both sills, and both wings due to rust.

Replaced rear axle due to engine change.

Replaced radiator due to corrosion.

Replaced exhaust twice both times with a rally system.

Lots of tyres.

General Comments:

I bought the Sunbeam when I needed a car, but had little money.

I paid £100 for it as a barely running heap.

Over a few days I tidied it up and got it running properly.

Even though it was very slow it was nice to drive.

The seats are very comfortable - similar to the Avenger seats.

I obtained a cheap 1.6 engine, gearbox and plumbing and fitted them - this transformed the car's performance.

Later on I reconditioned the engine, fitted twin carburetors, a Kent camshaft, and K & N air filters, the car was rolling road tested at 90bhp at the wheels.

During this time I sorted out the suspension and wheels.

Anyway the Sunbeam is a superb handling car, with OK brakes, very easy to work on and also surprisingly reliable.

I ran this car for years and enjoyed driving it.

Some fabric seat covers, trim taken from higher spec. scrap Sunbeams provided a nice interior.

Ventilation is OK.

I ended up getting rid of it due to problems obtaining spares.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 17th July, 2002

8th Dec 2003, 12:09

I fell in love with the Talbot sunbeam as an 8 year old regularly applying rust treatment and red oxide primer to various rusting areas. (and there were many) I have since owned three. In a 1979, unmodified 1.1 I screamed home to liverpool from Worcester in 80 minutes. The 1.3 was a better engine, but have never tried the 1.6.

This car is undoubtedly the most under rated hatch ever built. Handles great. The driver position and comfort superb. The only let down is the corroding, but, lets face it, all cars built in this era were rust buckets.

I am now attempting to lay my hands on a Lotus Sunbeam in any condition. If you can help then contact me at john36riv@yahoo.co.uk.

Average review marks: 7.6 / 10, based on 2 reviews