TALBOT (England) 1903-1938



The origins of the Talbot go back to 1903, when a syndicate, financed by the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot, was formed to build French Cléments for the English market. They were initially known as Clement-Talbots, though the French connection was gradually dropped and the Talbot slowly emerged as a marque in its own right. As befitted the times, a variety of models was offered, from an 11 hp twin to a mighty 50 hp four-cylinder. The year 1906 saw the first of the truly British Talbots, a 3.8-litre 20hp car. This and the 12/16 were fairly fleet of foot and established a competitive reputation for themselves. By 1914 the range included a six-cylinder model and a 4 1/2-litre 25 hp car, later known as the 25/50.

Although the company became enmeshed in the Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq combine after World War One, Georges Roesch, an outstanding Swiss engineer who had joined Talbot in 1916, was responsible for the 10/23 of 1923 which complemented some of the models of the pre-war range. Roesch's next car was the pushrod ohv 1666cc 14/45, a refined and well-engineered six with significantly light valve gear, offered alongside the older 20/60 model in 1927 and 1928, though it was the company's sole model for the following two years. From this sprang the 75 and 90 variants for 1931, while the following year the 3-litre 105 with new six-cylinder engine appeared, remaining in production until 1937. The ultimate development of this theme came with the 110 of 1935, having a larger bore than the 105, giving 3 1/2 litres. These fast, quiet and reliable cars lent themselves naturally to sporting activities, 3rd and 4th places being attained at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1930, with class wins at the Irish Grand Prix, the Ulster Tourist Trophy race and the Brooklands 500 Mile event. The 105 similarly lent itself to the racing circuits, chalking up a 3rd place at Le Mans in 1932. Unfortunately, at the end of 1932, the factory association with the Tolworth concern of Fox and Nicholl (who prepared these splendid machines for the circuits) came to an end, though this did not prevent a team of 105s from attaining a joint win (with the Adler team) in the 1934 Alpine Rally, an event they had also won in 1932. Tragically, in 1935 the Rootes Group took control of Clement-Talbot. A concern with a background of sales, rather than engineering, was hardly likely to look sympathetically on Roesch and his intelligently created cars, and in 1936 a Rootes Talbot Ten, with Hillman Minx ancestry, appeared. In 1938 the marque was re-named Sunbeam-Talbot. In 1979 Peugeot-Citroën announced it would use the Talbot name on all its European products.

see also: SUNBEAM

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