The Big Car Database

Talbot

Talbot was an automobile manufacturer founded in London in 1903 by investor Charles Chetwynd-Talbot and French engineer Adolphe Clément, later Clément-Bayard.

Their products were named just Talbot from shortly after their first manufacture in London but their business remained Clément-Talbot Limited until 1938.

Former type

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
Website talbot

Clément-Talbot was brought into a combine named S T D Motors after the first World War and S T D Motors' Darracq Paris products were renamed Talbot. The result was one London ownership but a Talbot factory in London and another Talbot factory in Paris each generally designing and building its own separate product under one London top administration. Paris products were imported to Britain and then given the name Darracq Talbot.

In the mid 1930s Rootes bought the London factory and Antonio Lago bought the Paris factory. Then Lago used Talbot or Talbot-Lago in Paris and in 1938 Rootes renamed Clément-Talbot Limited Sunbeam-Talbot Limited. Rootes stopped using the brand name Talbot in the mid-1950s, the Paris factory closed a few years later.

Rootes was bought by Chrysler which, after a few years, sold its plant to Peugeot and Peugeot revived use of the Talbot name until 1994.

Talbot London

Clément-Talbot, ultimately Sunbeam-Talbot, Limited was founded in 1903, this business venture was financed by Charles Chetwynd-Talbotand Adolphe Clément-Bayard.

The first products were cars that were London-assembled mechanical components of French Clément-Bayard cars but the French components were soon replaced by British parts. The brand-name was reduced to Talbot after the first year.

S T D Motors

In December 1919 A Darracq and Company (1905) Limited of London with its factory in Suresnes, Paris, bought the entire capital of Clément-Talbot. Clément-Talbot became a major component of the new combine, S T D Motors Limited, along with Darracq's other new acquisition, Sunbeam. But Clément-Talbot retained its separate identity and its cars their distinctive Shrewsbury & Talbot badge.

Talbot Paris under S T D Motors

In 1920 Suresnes products were branded Talbot-Darracq but the word Darracq was dropped in 1922. If exported to England Paris-made Talbots were rebadged Darracq.

After Darracq became part of S T D Motors and was renamed Talbot highly advanced straight eight dohc Sunbeam Grand Prix cars rebadged Talbot-Darracq took part in the 1921 French Grand Prix.

The Rootes era

In 1934 holding company S T D Motors' business suffered a financial collapse because Sunbeam had borrowed heavily for its racing programme ten years earlier and the group was unable to pay back the investors. Rootes Securities Limited bought subsidiaries Clément-Talbot which was selling well and making profits and Sunbeam Motor Car Company. The existing Clément-Talbot models continued, Sunbeams were supplied from stock but their production was finished.

S T D Motors third automotive subsidiary, its Suresnes, Paris, business, Automobiles Talbot S.A. was bought by its S T D appointed manager Antonio Lago and thereafter its cars were generally branded Talbot-Lago.

In Britain though Clément-Talbots were selling well, Roesch was asked to turn Hillman's Aero Minx into a Talbot Ten. The now obsolescent Sunbeam production was stopped and the Wolverhampton factory closed. Eventually no new luxury Sunbeam was built and the Sunbeam and Talbot brand names were combined in 1938 to form a new marque,Sunbeam-Talbot, and the company Clément-Talbot Limited with its works in North Kensington was renamed Sunbeam-Talbot Limited. The "new" cars were Rootes products with upmarket bodies—Hillman Aero Minx, Humber Super Snipe. Production of Sunbeam-Talbot automobiles ceased during the second World War and resumed again in 1945. In the Spring of 1946 Sunbeam-Talbot production was moved to Ryton-on-Dunsmore and North Kensington became a Rootes service centre.

The Talbot name was dropped (after 20 years) in 1955 leaving Sunbeam by itself as the brand name.

The Sunbeam name continued under the Rootes management (Rapier, Alpine and Tiger) until 1967 when Chrysler bought control of Rootes.

The Chrysler era

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 Uusikaupunkifactory. Other Chrysler-based Talbots were also made there: Talbot Alpine and Solara. 

The Peugeot era

 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 archrival Renault.

The Peugeot takeover saw the end of the Rootes' Chrysler Hunter production, but the Simca-designed 1510 (Alpine in UK), andHorizon 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 agingRyton 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.

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.

 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 andSunbeam 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

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 thePeugeot 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), although the Talbot Express panel van continued in production until 1994 when the entire Talbot marque was axed.

Talbots in the UK

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

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, 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 (1979-1994)

  • Talbot 1100 1967-1979
  • Talbot Alpine 1979-1985
  • Talbot Avenger 1970-1981
  • Talbot Express Vans 1982-1994
  • Talbot Horizon 1979-1985
  • Talbot Marathon 1983-1986
  • Talbot Matra Murena GT 1980-1984
  • Talbot Minx 1984-1986
  • Talbot Rapier 1984-1986
  • Talbot Rancho Estate 1977-1984
  • Talbot Samba 1982-1986
  • Talbot Samba Cabriolet 1983-1987
  • Talbot Solara 1982-1984
  • Talbot Sunbeam 1977-1981
  • Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus GT 1979-1981
  • Talbot Tagora 1981-1984

Motorsport

Formula One

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

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 andRussell 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.

 

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