Born as I was in 1985, when I think of a Talbot, immediately springs to mind the boxy Sunbeam – who remembers that – however, as I was soon to discover, that is only a fraction of the story.
Now, as something of a car aficionado, I back my knowledge when it comes to most things automotive but I must confess a lack of knowledge when it comes to Talbot – at least until we were fortunate enough to bump into Sir Gerry Acher – the Chairman of Brooklands Museum – who kindly gave us a closer look at his 1914 Talbot.
Now, before we get to Gerry (sorry Gerry) let me give you a brief Talbot history lesson – and what a history lesson it is!
In the Beginning, Takeovers and the Demise
The company was founded in 1903 by Charles Chetwynd-Talbot (the 20th Earl of Shrewsbury no less) and Adolphe Clément-Bayard (a French entrepreneur) and became known as Talbot almost immediately before switching to Clément-Talbot Limited.
The company was headquartered in North Kensington from 1903 – 1938 but in 1919 things started to get a little confusing as A Darracq and Company Limited bought Clément-Talbot and renamed themselves to S. T. D. Motors Limited (standing for – Sunbeam, Talbot, Darracq and not what you thought).
To cut a long story short, in the mid-1930’s S.T.D went bust and Rootes bought the London Talbot factory and Antonio Lago bought the Paris factory with the pair operating until it all went pear-shaped in 1958 when the factory doors finally closed.
Peugeot the Saviours
Through various takeovers and complicated ongoings (that we won’t go into here), eventually, the Talbot name remerged under Peugeot ownership in 1979.
Brand Talbot was back, and it was over the next 15-years that would see cars such as the Alpine, hugely popular Express vans and of course the Sunbeam come to the fore.
It didn’t last forever though as in 1986, Peugeot was having much more success branding cars under their own name and following the success of the 205, it was increasingly clear that Peugeot had little need for the Talbot brand.
Although the Express vans stayed in production until 1994, the truth is the death sentence had been rung nearly eight years before.
Back to Gerry and the 1914 Talbot
Although the end of the brand is a sad one – a comeback was mooted in 2008 although it never materialised.
That is why it was such as honour to be shown around such a rare specimen in Gerry’s pristine 1914 Talbot at Brooklands Museum.
Gerry’s model boasts a 4-cylinder 12 hp engine (roughly 2.5 litre) but has quite a unique tale of its own involving trips to Australia and the USA.
At the beginning of the great war, Talbot ceased to produce cars for the private sector but continued to export running chassis over to Australia.
Gerry’s 1914 Talbot is one such example that found its way to the other side of the world with the body then constructed down under.
Up until the late 1920s, the car remained in private ownership before finding its way into a museum.
Then, in the 1960s the car was sold and was taken Stateside for a few years before finally coming home to the UK around the year 2000 and into Gerry’s possession about eight years ago.
To this day, Gerry’s 1914 Talbot is a sight to behold and comes with the original working electric lights (the first Talbot to do so). However, don’t expect to get it stopped quickly as it only features brakes at the rear!
Watch the full interview with Gerry Acher in which we get a closer look at the 1914.
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