Vintage Advertising: 1979, Talbot replaces Chrysler Simca

On August 10, 1978, a Chrysler Corporation group at the bottom of the hole was forced to sell its European activities to the PSA group (Peugeot-Citroën) as a matter of urgency. A year later, consider replacing the Chrysler name and logo. We need to find a new trade name. It is an improbable solution that will be chosen! And that PSA is trying to justify in this advertising campaign.

The context: PSA, a giant despite itself

Chrysler’s presence in Europe dates to 1958 with a minority shareholding by Simca in France, then total in the 1960s. In 1967, it was the English group Rootes that went under the American flag. Then in 1969, Chrysler bought out the Spanish ally Barreiros. In 1970, these stores were brought together under the Chrysler Europe structure, and all the brands acquired (Hillman, Sunbeam, Commer, Singer, Humber, Barreiros) were put to sleep. The vehicles produced by these different coats of arms are now produced under the name Chrysler. The only exception: France! For a change! In France, cars are sold under the name Simca-Chrysler, because Simca remains a very popular name in France.

To everyone’s surprise, PSA chose the name Talbot to replace Chrysler. Why? Why? Because the origins of the brand are English and French. At first, it was called Clément-Talbot, produced only across the Channel and was the initiative of two people: the French Adolphe Clément, who wanted to produce in Great Britain the cars of his Clément-Bayard brand, and Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, his English partner. Bought by the French Darracq in 1920, then by Anthony Lago in 1934, the brand produced luxurious and sporty models on both sides of the Channel, which gave it a prestigious image. But Talbot’s difficulties were overcome and Simca bought the brand at the end of 1958. At that time, the Talbot were only produced in the Suresnes plant in France, and it was precisely this plant that interested Simca (whose Poissy plant was saturated). As a matter of form, Talbot production continued for a few months, and the brand was shelved in 1960.

As you can see, it was this Franco-English pedigree of Talbot that led PSA to choose this name to rename all the activities of former Chrysler Europe. For two reasons: the brand now belongs to it even if it is no longer active, and it is known and reputed on both sides of the Channel for its exceptional models. In the summer of 1979, all Chrysler or Simca-Chrysler signs were removed to make way for those of Talbot.

By acquiring Chrysler Europe, PSA Peugeot-Citroën becomes the leading European manufacturer, and the fifth largest manufacturer in the world behind General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Nissan! On the way to a new adventure… or rather to hell!

The next step: a traumatic and failed buyout for PSA

Just after Chrysler Europe was acquired in 1978, PSA carried out a disastrous inventory of production facilities: in recent years, French plants have not benefited from the investments necessary for their proper functioning. Worse: English factories are in such a state of disrepair that they are industrially damaged! The only good news is that the Spanish factories, both new and modern, are operational. Socially, it is a disaster: demotivated staff, record absenteeism, repeated strikes.

However, PSA is obliged to implement a mandatory restructuring of Talbot. Difficult decisions were taken massive layoffs, plant closures, merger of the Talbot network with Peugeot’s network. The unions will not give up and will regularly paralyse the production lines in the following years.

From then on, the general public will turn away from the Talbot brand, which is more receptive to high-profile social movements than to PSA’s efforts to make the brand appealing (world rally champion in 1981, successful reception for the compact Horizon sedan and the Matra Rancho recreational vehicle, release of the small Samba, much more successful than the Peugeot 104 from which it comes, presentation of the original Murena coupé with Matra, presentation of the Solara sedan and the large Tagora). Market shares are falling for Talbot. And when, in 1985, the time came to replace the Talbot Horizon with the Talbot Arizona, PSA decided at the last moment to abdicate. The brand image has become disastrous, the result of what we would now call a bad buzz. The memory of the dynamic Simca brand is erased, and the humiliated Talbot brand is abandoned. There will therefore be no Talbot Arizona, but a Peugeot 309 that will clumsily integrate the lion’s range.

The last Samba, Horizon and Solara are produced until 1987. Talbot is once again put into dormancy this time

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