Talbot was originally founded in 1903 in Britain by Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury. He started by importing the French Clement-Bayard cars and selling them as Clement-Talbot before importing parts from France and building his own cars simply called Talbot in North London but to all intent and purpose they were Clement-Bayard sourced with a different badge.
After the First World War, Clement-Bayard stopped building full cars when they were acquired by Citroen and in 1919 Talbot were acquired by the British owned subsidiary of Darracq SA, founded by Alexandre Darracq (who had an initial arrangement with Adam Opel and ALFA of Alfa Romeo). The British cars became Talbot-Darracq and in 1920 they merged with the Sunbeam Motorcar Company to become Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq.
This company achieved notable success on the track that helped to market the sports car and luxury vehicles with success at the Le Mans 24 hour race and they even built the Sunbeam 350hp (named “Bluebird”) that used a V12 aero engine to capture the Land Speed Record in 1925.
After Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq collapsed in 1935, the Rootes Group bought the Sunbeam and Talbot pieces to create the Sunbeam Talbot brand, which lasted until the mid 1950s when the Talbot brand was dropped. The cars were classical, mid price and stylish, however they weren’t as pretty as their French cousins!
Incidentally, the Darracq piece was acquired by Anthony Lago who continued the development of cars as Talbot-Lago or Lago-Talbot depending on who wrote the history! Lago specialised initially in building rolling chassis for coachbuilders to clothe with luxury bodies. After the Second World War Talbot-Lago used Maserati, BMW and Simca engines but the French Government heavily taxed cars with engines over 2 litres and this had a big impact on the viability of the company. The French Talbots were successful in early F1 racing during 1950 and 1951.
In 1959 the French part was acquired by Simca (who originally built FIATs under licence) and in the same year Chrysler took an initial stake in the new parent. This stake grew over the years until the early 1970s when Chrysler took full control of Simca. So for 15 years there were no Talbots at all being sold. Chrysler had also taken control of the Rootes Group in the UK and were slowly assimilating everyone into the Chrysler brand.
Chrysler Europe collapsed in 1977 when the parent company was struggling and the remains were bought by PSA Peugeot who resurrected the Talbot brand and renamed all the Rootes and Simca models. By this stage, Talbots were in direct competition with Vauxhall & Ford for ordinary cars that got most people from A to B.
However, Talbot appeared again in F1 during the early 1980s connected to Ligier as the team wanted access to the Matra racing engine and Simca/Chrysler/Talbot had been jointly working with Matra for 10 years. For most people it was simply a large logo on a fast car! At the same time, they were a force in World Rallying winning the championship in 1981, helping sales of their smaller models.
The last Talbot car, the Horizon hatchback was replaced in 1985 with the Peugeot 309 and the Talbot car brand finally died, although Talbot vans were built until 1992. Like many dormant brands, there have been rumours of a resurrection, in the last case as a low cost Citroen or Peugeot model, however nothing has ever come of it.