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Talbot was an automobile brand, whose history is one of the industry's most complex.
Inception of the British Talbot
Talbot was originally the British brand name used to sell imported French Clément-Bayard cars. Founded in 1903, this business venture was financed by Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury, who lent his name to the firm. Starting in 1905, the company branded its imported cars as Clément-Talbot and began assembling French made parts at a new factory in North Kensington, London, selling them under the name Talbot. Locally designed cars followed from 1906 and by 1910 50 to 60 cars a month were being made. A Talbot was the first car to cover 100 miles (160 kilometres) in an hour in 1913.
Parallel Talbots in Britain and France
During World War I, the firm manufactured ambulances. The firm's French and British operations continued in separate, parallel production and marketing processes until 1919, when the British owned but Paris based Darracq took over the company. Darracq-made Talbot models were marketed as Talbot-Darracqs. The following year, Darracq was reorganised as part of the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq (STD) conglomerate.
In 1916 the Swiss-native Georges Roesch became chief engineer and in the early 1920's, Talbot built a number of successful models, including the 14/45 hp, or Talbot 105, which was first built in 1926. In the 1930's, Roesch-designed Talbots enjoyed success in racing with the Fox & Nicholl team, with drivers including the Hon. Brian Lewis, Johnny Hindmarsh and John Cobb. They were also highly successful in the Alpine Trial. The Roesch era is documented in great detail by Anthony Blight in his book "Georges Roesch And The Invincible Talbot" (Grenville Publishing, 1970).
The Rootes era
In 1935 STD combine collapsed and the Rootes Group took over Clément-Talbot. For Rootes, profits were more important than engineering - the existing models were simply rebadged. The French factory was bought by Anthony Lago who used Talbot-Lago as a brand 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
After the war, only the French Talbot-Lago continued until 1960. The brand 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 1510 and Talbot Solara. Top-of-the line model was called Talbot Solara VIP.
The Peugeot era
At the end of 1978, Peugeot took over Chrysler Europe and resurrected the Talbot name — using it to re-badge the former Simca and Rootes models. The Peugeot takeover saw the end of Chrysler Hunter production, but the Chrysler-designed 1510 (Alpine in UK), and Horizon remained in production. 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. 1981 also saw the end of production 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, which was also sold as the Citroën LN/LNA.
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.
At the end of 1985, Peugeot replaced the Talbot Horizon with the Peugeot 309. Peugeot had originally planned to sell the car as the Talbot Arizona but had now changed its plans and was now intent on phasing out the Talbot marque. Production of the Horizon continued in Spain and Finland until 1987.
During 1986, the Minx, Rapier and Samba ranges were withdrawn from production, although the Talbot Express panel van continued in production until 1992.
Talbot in 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 the early eighties by associating with Ligier and using its Matra connection to secure a Matra engine for them, although the cars were known as Ligier-Matras and Talbot branding merely appeared on the car. This lasted two years and was moderately successful, Jacques Laffite coming third in the 1981 championship.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Talbot vehicles|
- The Sunbeam Talbot Darracq Register, additional details on the history of Talbot