Published on: Jan 20, 2016 @ 21:16 Originally Published in: 2015 (old website) (C) Jay Auger - website owner & author Notice: Any form of duplication methods (including but not limited to copy/paste of text and screen capture) of the website's content is strictly forbidden.
In 1979, following the creation of the Talbot brand out of the defunct Chrysler Europe, Rootes, and Simca companies, parent company PSA decided that the new division needed much publicity to boost its image. This led to the development of the Group 4 Sunbeam-Lotus and its surprise claim to the 1981 World Championship (WRC) manufacturer title. However, the Sunbeam was not expected to be reused for the upcoming Group B regulations. Talbot thus had already started devising a prototype to compete in the new category.
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Introduced in 1978, the front engine / front wheel drive Talbot Horizon was aimed to be the brand’s “world car” with exports across Europe and North America to compete with the likes of the upcoming Ford Escort MkIII. In 1981, this car would be the choice of Des O’Dell as a base for the marque’s future Group B rally contender.
The new regulations would open the doors to even more specialised designs than before while also reducing production costs. As such, O’Dell was contemplating his own version of the newly launched Renault 5 Turbo by using the same recipe of a mid-engine / rear wheel drive layout in a former front wheel drive economy car.
It was the norm of reusing the engine from the outgoing rally car since it was already developed and proven. Hence Talbot, in conjunction with Lotus, would install the previous Sunbeam Lotus slant-four type-911 engine behind the front seats of the Horizon.
The normally aspirated engine was capable of a respectable 250 BHP in race spec. However, Lotus added turbocharging which augmented the output to around 300 BHP in the prototype.
Not much else is known about the true specifications but it is suspected that only one of the two cars was turbocharged. Some testing is said to have been performed by Stig Blomqvist before the 1981 RAC Rally held in November.
At a press conference held in London soon after the end of the 1981 rally season, parent company PSA announced the creation of Peugeot Talbot Sport (PTS) to spearhead both companies’ motorsport activities into the new FISA Group B regulations. Team leader Jean Todt laid out the new strategy which outlined the creation of a specialised four wheel drive car at Peugeot for a full-on WRC programme aimed at winning the top honours. This car would end up being the famous world-conquering 205 Turbo 16.
After winning the 1981 WRC manufacturer’s championship, the Talbot brand would thus be relegated catering to the Group B entry-level rally car market with the Samba Rallye. While the car turned out very competitive in its B/9 class it obviously never could compete for the top honours, eventually being overshadowed by other Peugeot GTi offerings.
It is reported that only two prototypes of the Horizon were built before Peugeot Talbot Sport cancelled the project when taking over all rally operations.
With the subsequent successes of the 205 T16 it is quite apparent that Peugeot did take the appropriate decision while also robbing the world of what could have been an exciting homologation special.
|Production||1981||# built: 2|
|Type||Lotus Type 911, I-4, DOHC 16v, gas||located middle longitudinal|
|Displacement||2174 cc||WRC x1.4: 3044 cc|
|Output power – torque||300 HP @ – rpm||– lb-ft @ – rpm|
|Materials||block: aluminum||cylinder head: aluminum|
|Cooling system||water-cooled||front mounted|
|Type||rear wheel drive||N/A|
|Type||L-platform, steel monocoque chassis with roll cage, 5 door hatchback, arch extensions, vented hood|
|Front suspension||wishbone, torsion bar, anti roll bar|
|length: 155.9 in (3960 mm)||width: N/A||height: 55.5 in (1410 mm)|
|wheelbase: 99.2 in (2520 mm)||front track: N/A||rear track: N/A|
|Rims – tires||N/A||
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