Thursday June 6, 2019
Back in the early 1980s, to buy a Talbot Horizon 1.1 LE was to enter a world of luxury that was almost beyond human comprehension. The brochure promised such glittering features as ‘Long life spark plugs’ and ‘Servo assisted brakes’; if you craved the opulence of a glovebox with a lid, a clock, a cigarette lighter and (quite incredibly) reversing lamps and rear wiper you had to aspire to the LS version.
Today, only three LEs are believed to be still on the road, and when Andrew Thomson’s handsome red example was leaving the factory “Peugeot-Talbot” publicity was dominated by the 205.
By contrast, the Horizon looked like a faint throwback to the previous decade. Today, Andrew reports that ‘most people don’t know exactly what it is or can’t remember them very well, although a few people remember them as family members etc. have maybe owned one at some point etc..’.
Thirty-two years ago, the Horizon seemed to blend into the background as dependable family transport, which is not being entirely fair. The styling, courtesy of Roy Axe, was clean-cut and when Chrysler Europe’s “Project C2” debuted in December 1977 it predated the Citroën GSA, the Opel Kadett D/Vauxhall Astra Mk. I, the Ford Escort Mk. III and the Austin Maestro as a five-door hatchback.
British sales commenced in autumn 1978, and Chrysler’s publicity understandably made much of it being Car of The Year 1979 and the trip computer fitted to the flagship SX. Remember – at that time, many households in the UK did not have a telephone while a computer was still associated with mad scientists played by Michael Gough in B-features. The Horizon was also more spacious than the Simca 1100 and looked a good more contemporary than the Austin Maxi.
However, the Horizon suffered from the change of marque as from July 1979 onwards it was to be badged as a “Talbot” following PSA’s acquisition of Chrysler Europe. British production command in the following year and for 1983 there was the facelifted Series 2, but a replacement model, known as the “Talbot Arizona” was already under development, but when it formally debuted in 1985, it was as the Peugeot 309. It must be said that advertisements as horrendous as this did not help sales prospects of the Horizon -
Or this -
British sales of the Horizon ceased in 1986 and Andrew acquired his exceptionally rare car only a few weeks ago – ‘it was on eBay down in Scotch Corner – but in a bid, I ended up winning it and had to go down and get it. I own a few other retro cars which I’ve had longer, but the Talbot was my most recent’. On the road ‘it handles very well and is pretty good for what it is. It keeps up with motorway traffic, but it is just the four-speed box’.
Best of all, the Thomson Horizon is a reminder of the 1980s so seldom evoked in “period dramas” – a world of trips to the Co-Op, GCE maths homework and Terry and June as the highlight of the evening…
WITH THANKS TO – ANDREW THOMSON