Talbot's city car

1980s style

Talbot Samba

IF you spot a Talbot Samba these days you will be very lucky because they are as rare as the proverbial hens' teeth.

The Samba was a little city car and a true child of the early 1980s, being manufactured at the former Simca factory in Poissy, France.

It was a product of the short-lived modern Talbot brand and was a familiar sight on the UK streets from 1981 to 1986.

It was based on the bright and breezy Peugeot 104 and was the only Talbot model not inherited from Chrysler Europe which had gobbled up the old Rootes Group marques such as Hillman.

It also turned out to be the last new Talbot to be launched and was also the last in production. Samba is best known for its three-door hatch version which was one of the most familiar sights on UK roads in those days. For a time it was the most economical car in Europe.

A masterstroke was the introduction of a cabrio bodystyle which was a major shot in the arm for what was, ostensibly a city car.

The engine line-up included three versions of the four-cylinder PSA X engine which it shared with Peugeot and Citroen stablemates.

Sambas are now very rare and some versions have died out.

There are still a few cabrios on the road though. These were built by the Italian stylist Pininfarina, a coachbuilder which had been turning out open-top Peugeots since the 1960s. It came only with the 1,360cc engine.

In 1982, the Talbot Group was merged into Peugeot within PSA, and responsibility for the model was devolved to France. The Whitley design studio was dissolved.

In the sales arena, Samba certainly did not have an easy ride due to intense competition from the Ford Fiesta and the later BL Metro.

But it was a pleasant drive and sold reasonably well. However, like other Talbot cars it certainly knew how to rust, a factor which became dominant in its demise.


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