Few car manufacturers have experienced the management changes more than Talbot did during its heydays. However, despite its complex and curious history, Talbot enjoyed a renaissance in the later years of its history to become a respected company in the car industry.
Founded in 1903, the company was first a British brand name used to retail Clément-Bayard cars, French automobiles in which Charles Chetwynd-Talbot funded. Changes in the name of the cars the company distributed took place in 1905 when the imported cars assumed the name Clément-Talbot, while selling assembled cars at a factory in Kensington, London. The company upped the ante in production, distributing more than 50 cars during 1910. Talbot was fairly successful and received recognition as a fast and efficient car when it was able to cover 100 miles/hour, the first of its kind.
Talbot expanded operations and had two factories in different countries, Britain and France, independently functioning from one another. Production changes took place in the midst of World War I when Talbot decided to manufacture ambulances. Still, car production continued as Swiss-native Georges Roesch became chief engineer in 1916. Throughout the period where the company was taken over Paris-based manufacturer Darracq in 1919, Roesch single-handedly carried the company with his innovative designs and superior performance such as the Talbot 105 and other models which were successful as part of the team of Fox & Nicholl.
The Rootes era started in 1935, when the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq conglomerate collapsed. Previous Talbot models were simply rehashed and repackaged, since Rootes were primarily focused on making profit from the car manufacturer, and ignoring the engineering involved in the production which made the cars great in the first place. Anthony Lago purchased the factory in France, while both Sunbeam and Talbot joined forces to form Sunbeam-Talbot in Britain. The Talbot name was dropped after WWII in 1955. Talbot-Lago was later bought by Simca in 1958, while Sunbeam persisted throughout the Rootes management until it was taken over by Chrysler in 1967.
The formation of Chrysler Europe due to the merging of Chrysler and Sirca was one of the highlights in the short-lived Chrysler era. While Chrysler was busy producing Horizon/Omni models, Talbot Horizon cars were developed at Uusikaupunki in Finland. Two Chrysler-based models were also built there, the Talbot Solara and Talbot 1510.
The Talbot name was resurrected when Chrysler Europe was taken over by Peugeot in 1978. The name allowed Peugeot to revamp their models manufactured by Rootes and Simca. Talbot enjoyed its prolific years under Peugeot, where new models such as the entry-level Talbot Samba and Talbot Tagora were released. As much as it did revive and continue production of previous car models, Peugeot also pulled the plug on the Talbot Sunbeam and Chrysler Hunter.
Surprising as it may seem, Talbot participated in Formula One events. 1950 and 1951 were the first two years of F1 World Championship, and both years also saw the only appearances of a Talbot-Lago T26, with specs of six-cylinder and 4.5-litre, in the history of Formula One. With Louis Rosier and Yves Giraud-Cabantous as the drivers, the Talbot cars finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Talbot ended its Formula One run when regulations stipulated two-litre F2 to be eligible in the races.
Talbot's history saw them dabble at ambulances and race cars. However, one thing is clear, their experience only made them better in what they do, much to the delight of car enthusiasts.
Original Authors: Manny
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 10/06/2008