Talbot

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This article is about the automobile marque. For other uses, see Talbot (disambiguation).
Talbot
Private
Industry Automotive
Fate Brand retired
Predecessor Chrysler Europe
Founded Historic: 1903
Peugeot-era: 1 August 1979
Defunct 1994
Headquarters Whitley, Coventry, United Kingdom
Poissy, France
Key people
Charles Chetwynd-Talbot,
Adolphe Clément
Alexandre Darracq
Products Automobile
Parent PSA Peugeot Citroën

Talbot was an automobile marque that existed from 1903 to 1994, with a hiatus from 1960 to 1978, under different owners, latterly Peugeot. Talbot participated in rallying, winning the 1981 World Rally Championship constructors' title, and in Formula One.

Inception of the British Talbot[edit]

1910 British-built Talbot tourer at Whites Hill, Brisbane. (December 1911)

Talbot was originally the British marque used to sell imported French Clément-Bayard cars. Founded in 1903, this business venture was financed by Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury and Adolphe Clément-Bayard.

Starting in 1905, the company sold imported cars under the Clément-Talbot marque and began assembling French-made parts at a new factory located in Barlby Road, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, London, selling them under the name Talbot after the first year. Domestically-designed cars followed from 1906. By 1910, 50 to 60 cars a month were being made.

A Talbot was the first car to cover 100 mi (160 km) in one hour, in 1913.[1]

Construction of the Clement Talbot Motor Works began in 1903 on a North Kensington site bought in October 1902. It was UK's first purpose-built car factory. The initial building, a large flexible open space, is known today as Ladbroke Hall. Subsequent works additions have been demolished and redeveloped.

Parallel Talbots in Britain and France[edit]

10/23 open 2-seater 1923

During World War I, the firm manufactured ambulances. French and British operations continued in separate, parallel production and marketing processes until 1919, when British-owned but Paris-based Darracq took over the company; Darracq-made Talbots were marketed as Talbot-Darracqs. The following year, Darracq was reorganised as part of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD) conglomerate. Highly advanced straight eight dohc Sunbeam Grand Prix cars rebadged as Talbot and Talbot-Darracq took part in the 1921 French Grand Prix.

In 1916, Swiss native Georges Roesch became chief engineer, and in the 1920s, Talbot built a number of successful models, including the 14/45 hp, or Talbot 105, which was first built in 1926. In the 1930s, Roesch-designed Talbots enjoyed success in racing with the Fox & Nicholl team, their drivers including the Hon. Brian Lewis, Johnny Hindmarsh, and John Cobb (better known for his land speed record attempts). They were also highly successful in the Alpine Trial.[2]

The Rootes era[edit]

Ten coupé 1936

In 1935, the STD combine collapsed and the Rootes Group took over Clément-Talbot. For Rootes, immediate sustainability was more important than re-engineering - the existing models were simply rebadged. The French factory was bought by Antonio Lago who used Talbot-Lago as a marque afterwards.

In Britain, Sunbeam and Talbot marques were combined in 1938 to form Sunbeam-Talbot. Production of Sunbeam Talbot automobiles ceased during World War II and resumed again in 1946, and the Talbot name was dropped in 1955. The Sunbeam name continued under the Rootes management (Rapier, Alpine and Tiger) until 1967 when control was taken over by Chrysler.

The Chrysler era[edit]

Alpine

After the war, only the French Talbot-Lago continued until 1960. The marque was bought by Simca in 1958.

In 1967, Chrysler took over Rootes and merged it with Simca to form Chrysler Europe. The Talbot name was not used in this era, although the Chrysler "Pentastar" logo and name (used as the marque) gradually replaced the Rootes brands as the 1970s progressed.

Chrysler had just developed with Simca new Horizon/Omni line, and the Talbot Horizon was produced in Finland at Uusikaupunki factory. Other Chrysler-based Talbots were also made there: Talbot Alpine and Solara.

The Peugeot era[edit]

Horizon saloon 1978

Chrysler Europe had struggled to make a profit for much of its existence, and had relied on government bailouts to ensure its survival. With mounting pressure on its core North American business, the decision was taken by Chrysler's then CEO Lee Iacocca to offload the ailing European operations. The French Government persuaded both Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën to bid for the company; as it was keen to keep Simca in domestic ownership.

In August 1978, PSA purchased Chrysler Europe for a nominal $1, and resurrected the Talbot name — using it to re-badge the former Simca and Rootes models. Although PSA took responsibility for Chrysler Europe's considerable debts and liabilities, the move was a strategic one; acquiring Simca would remove a strong domestic competitor in the French market whilst gaining access to that company's expertise in small front wheel drive cars; whilst at the same the old Rootes operations would give the company a stronger foothold in the United Kingdom - France's biggest export market where both Peugeot and Citroën lagged behind arch rival Renault.

The Peugeot takeover saw the end of the Rootes' Chrysler Hunter production, but the Simca-designed 1510 (Alpine in UK), and Horizon continued as Talbots.

All former Chrysler products registered in Britain after 1 August 1979 bore the Talbot badge. Talbot's UK branch manufactured the Alpine, Solara, and Horizon at their aging Ryton plant in Coventry after the British developed cars had all been retired - excepting the UK arm's then largest revenue source, building CKD kits of the Hillman Hunter to be sent to Iran where they were assembled as the Peykan.[3]

The last remaining car produced by the Rootes group, the Chrysler (previously Hillman) Avenger, remained in production as a Talbot until the end of 1981; production also ended, in 1981, of the Avenger-derived Talbot Sunbeam. The entry-level model in the Talbot range from 1982 onwards would be the Talbot Samba, a three-door hatchback based on the Peugeot 104.

In 1981, Peugeot began producing the Talbot Tagora, a boxy four-door saloon marketed as a Ford Granada or Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Rekord rival. But it was not popular in either Britain or France and production ceased in 1983.

Samba cabrio 1984

At the end of 1984, the Alpine hatchback and its related Solara saloon were rebadged Minx and Rapier depending upon specification rather than body shape. The new names were inherited from the Rootes Group; Rootes had previously produced the Hillman Minx and Sunbeam Rapier. These cars were produced until 1986. Rootes names still crop up occasionally; in 1982 there was a Talbot Solara "Sceptre" model, the name was inherited from the Humber Sceptre which was produced between 1963 and 1976.

Decline and Demise[edit]

In Britain, the Chrysler and Talbot marques had totalled nearly 120,000 sales in 1979, only outsold by Ford and British Leyland, but then went into decline, not helped by the recession or a lack of new models being launched. By 1985 however after years of losses, PSA began to question its three-brand strategy. The Talbot Tagora model failed in the marketplace; the Samba was essentially a decade old design thanks to its Peugeot 104 parentage, whilst the ageing 1510/Alpine/Solara models overlapped with both the Citroën BX and forthcoming Peugeot 405. At the eleventh hour, the decision was made to release the forthcoming Horizon replacement as the Peugeot 309 instead of Talbot Arizona. It was a controversial decision, as the British arm of the company believed there was greater brand loyalty to Talbot in the UK with its historical connection to the Rootes Group, but the decision to concentrate on the Peugeot brand prevailed, and the 309 became the first of a long line of British-built Peugeot models to be assembled at Ryton. Partly because they were perceived as "British" (despite most of their content actually being imported from PSA's French factories), the 309 and the subsequent 405, 306 and 206 models were hugely successful in the UK market and regularly featured among the country's top ten best sellers.

PSA had also considered launching a replacement for the Talbot Samba based on the platform of the still under-development Citroën AX, but such was the success of the Peugeot 205 in the supermini sector that PSA felt there was little need for a third supermini in its portfolio. It became clear however, that there was no long term future for the Talbot brand in 1986 when PSA sold the Whitley research and development centre to Jaguar, signalling the end for any more British developed models.

Production of the Horizon continued in Spain and Finland until 1987, marking the end of the Talbot name on passengers cars (the rest of the range had been discontinued in May 1986 although some models were made in the 1980s),[4] although the Talbot Express panel van continued in production until 1994 when the entire Talbot marque was axed.

Talbots in the UK[edit]

The Talbot Express van (along with its identical sister vehicle the Fiat Ducato) was a popular base vehicle for motorhomes and campervan conversions, and as a result they are still a relatively common sight on British roads, with many hundreds of examples still in service - compared to an extremely low survival rate of any of the other Chrysler-Peugeot era Talbot passenger car models. According to the website How Many Left? as of June 2016, there were fewer than 40 Alpine/Solara models, 20 Horizons, 10 Sambas and only one Tagora still registered with the British Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), compared to well over 5000 Talbot Express vans.

Resurrection[edit]

In 2008, PSA considered re-introducing Talbot to the market, targeting low-budget buyers, as Renault did with its Dacia Logan. It was suggested that these could be models produced in China such as Talbot versions of the Citroën Elysée and of the Peugeot 206,[5] but did not make a comeback as of 2012 because PSA introduced the second-generation Citroën C-Elysée and the Peugeot 301.

Cars built by Talbot (1919-1940)[edit]

8/18 2-seater 1923
14/45 fabric coupé 1929
65 6-light saloon 1934
name
cylinders cubic

capacity

bore and

stroke

tax

horsepower

brake

horsepower

years in

production

14
4
1955
72 x 120
12.9
-
1921—1921
16
4
2614
80 x 130
15.9
-
1921—1921
36
6
3922
80 x 130
23.8
50
1921—1921
12/30
6
1454
57 x 95
12
-
1922—1924
8/18
4
970
57 x 95
8
20
1922—1926
10/23
4
1074
60 x 95
8.9
23
1923—1926
12/30
6
1612
60 x 95
13.4
30
1924—1924
16/50
6
2540
70 x 110
18.2
-
1924—1924
18/55
6
2540
70 x 110
18.2
-
1925—1925
14/45
6
1666
61 x 95
13.8
46
1926—1935
20/60
6
2916
75 x 110
20.9
-
1926—1928
18/70
6
2276
69.5 x 100
18
60
1930—1930
90
6
2276
69.5 x 100
18
93
1930—1937
75
6
2276
69.5 x 100
18
70
1931—1937
105
6
2969
75 x 112
20.9
100
1931—1937
65
6
1666
61 x 95
13.8
46
1932—1935
95
6
2969
75 x 112
20.9
95
1933—1936
110
6
3378
80 x 112
23.8
123
1935—1937
Eight
8
4504
80 x 112
31.7
150
1936—1936
10
4
1185
63 x 95
9.8
41
1936—1939
3-litre
6
3181
75 x 120
20.9
78
1937—1938

Cars built by Talbot (1979-1994)[edit]

Motorsport[edit]

Formula One[edit]

Talbot had two brief spells in Formula One. The 4.5-litre, six-cylinder Talbot-Lago T26 was eligible for F1 competition post-war, and many examples, both factory and private, appeared in the first two years of the F1 World Championship, 1950 and 1951. Talbots came fourth and fifth in the inaugural World Championship race, the 1950 British Grand Prix, piloted by Yves Giraud-Cabantous and Louis Rosier respectively. The move to two-litre F2 regulations for 1952 effectively ended Talbot's F1 spell as a manufacturer.

There was a brief participation in Formula One in 1981-1982 by associating with Ligier and using its Matra connection to secure a Matra engine for them, and although the cars were known as Ligier-Matras the team was using the Talbot marque and sponsorship. This lasted two years and was moderately successful, Jacques Laffite coming fourth in the 1981 championship with two wins.

World Rally Championship[edit]

Talbot's Sunbeam Lotus.

The Talbot factory team for the World Rally Championship was founded in 1979, after Peugeot had taken over Chrysler Europe and resurrected the Talbot name. In the team's inaugural season in the series, Tony Pond drove the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus to an impressive fourth place at the 1979 Rallye Sanremo. More success followed in the 1980 season; Guy Fréquelin brought Talbot the team's first podium by finishing third at the 1980 Rally Portugal, and then Henri Toivonen won the RAC Rally, becoming the youngest-ever driver to win a world rally. The rally was a big success for Talbot as the team also took the third and fourth places, driven by Fréquelin and Russell Brookes, respectively. This was also the last time that a two-wheel-drive car won the RAC Rally. In the manufacturers' world championship, Talbot placed sixth.

In the 1981 season, Talbot continued with Fréquelin and Toivonen. Although the team's only win came at the Rally Argentina, driven by Fréquelin, consistent podiums and points-scoring finishes saw Talbot take the manufacturers' title. Fréquelin narrowly lost the drivers' title to Ford's Ari Vatanen. The 1982 season saw the series dominated by the four-wheel-drive Audi Quattro, and with Group B regulations coming up, Talbot withdrew from the WRC. However, the Talbot name continued in the championship, as Jean Todt founded the Peugeot Talbot Sport in 1981. This Peugeot factory team debuted in 1984 and won the drivers' and manufacturers' titles in 1985 and 1986.

Sponsorship[edit]

Talbot was the main sponsor of Coventry City football club from 1981 to 1983, and at one stage the club's chairman Jimmy Hill was planning to change the club's name to "Coventry Talbot". However, these plans were vetoed by the Football League and by the summer of 1983 Talbot had ended its association with the club.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Andy Lambert. "Captain Percy E. Lambert 1881 - 1913". Familylambert.net. Retrieved 2011-10-08. 
  2. ^ This era is documented in great detail by Anthony Blight in his book Georges Roesch and the Invincible Talbot (Grenville Publishing, 1970).
  3. ^ Kent, Gordon (September 1984). Cropley, Steve, ed. "Oracle". Car (London, UK: FF Publishing): 45. 
  4. ^ Hayward, Matthew (28 July 2011). "The cars : Chrysler Horizon". Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  5. ^ 03 September 2008 (2008-09-03). "Talbot makes a comeback?". Autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 

External links[edit]