“Vive La Difference!” Archie Vicar compares some new products in the family sector, the Simca 1307, the Chrysler 150 and the Talbot 1510.
[Note: It has been drawn to our attention that significant parts of this article are factually incorrect.]
From The Motoring Weekly Gazette, October 1976. Photography by Terry Loftholdingswood. Owing to the poor quality of the original images, stock photos have been used.
All of a sudden there are three entirely new cars fresh on the market to rival the Ford Cortina, the Vauxhall Cavalier and the ancient Renault 16. From England comes the Talbot 1510: good day, sir! From France, we say bonjour to the Simca 1307. And we say “howdy” to the Chrysler 150 from the Americans. There would appear to be something for everyone’s taste here, I say.
What is the modern family motorist looking for in today’s new contemporary modern car? These three cars are all trying to answer that very question and they prove that, if you want a reliable, sturdy and comfortable car, you don’t automatically have to go to your Ford, BL or Vauxhall dealership.
We took the three cars to the country roads around Great Malvern to see how they coped in real world conditions, far from the glamourous locations that car makers use to show off their new machines.
Comfort and refinement
The drive from the Motoring Weekly Gazette’s offices in the Barbican to Great Malvern was easy enough. All three cars, apart from the Chrysler and Simca, were comfortable and quiet. One only had to raise one’s voice a little to be heard inside the refined and quiet Talbot. Rumbling from the tyres was less than acceptable in the Simca and the American Chrysler. Wind noise was especially intrusive in the American car.
Back inside the cars we find modern trimmings and fittings decorating all three but the Simca and the Chrysler are a little lacking in comfort in comparison with the British machine. The workers in Ryton, Coventry can be proud of their car. The Talbot is a practical hatchback. We can expect all family cars to follow this format in future.
Stopping for refreshment at the Crofter & Dray at Potter’s Bar, we had time to sip a few beers and to compare the three cars’ visual appearance. To my eyes, the Talbot
is by far the most striking car and looks distinctively better than the other two. It also looks much more modern than either Volkswagen’s rather dull Passat and Renault´s wilfully quirky 20. The chap behind the Talbot’s clean lines is veteran pen-wielder Mr Roy Axe. He has done a fine job and deserves much praise for this bold, original and memorable design. The other designers could take a leaf or two from Mr Axe’s sketchbook if they want to get ahead.
Facts, figures and handling
The Talbot has a 13 gallon fuel tank while the Simca only offers 60 liters (their own figures). The Chrysler also offers a 13 gallon tank but don’t be fooled. The American gallon is smaller than the British gallon. This means that in the fuel-tank competition, the English car comes out victorious.
Technically, the Talbot is as modern as one can hope to find. It has front-wheel drive and the understeer is more than acceptable. It is safe and predictable. The Chrylser and Simca copy this format but do so less than excellently. We found the Simca dangerously prone to understeer while the American car was typically wallowy and soft. That’s fine for Yanks in Chicago but well off the pace in handling-minded Europe.
Now the all important question of ashtray placement. All do quite well but with subtle differences. The Simca is clearly a car for non-smokers. The cigar lighter was only available at extra cost. The Chrysler’s ashtray is badly positioned while in the Talbot everything is just so. Another win for Britain here.
Braking? Well, all cars stop when told to do so. The Talbot has a good set-up of discs fore and drums aft. The Chrysler has a similar set-up but is more prone to fading under repeated very hard braking. We drove the Chrysler ten times down the hill from Great Malvern and in the end the car needed very extreme pressure to slow down. The less said about the Simca’s indifference to stopping the better. That’s a very French trait, I think as the onions and garlic people do like to hammer along their rural roads at frightening pace. Seat belts are fitted for the front passengers, of course but as the French won’t use them this is a wasted investment.
We retired to the Foley Arms in Great Malvern to compare notes and enjoy a slap-up meal of roast beef, roast potatoes, chips, croquette potatoes, mashed potatoes and lashings of Great British gravy. The local brew, Malvern Bishop is potent stuff and helped us relax after three tiring days at the wheel.
Our conclusion is that if one car has to win the European Car of The Year, it must be the Talbot. It is has style, comfort and the good looks of a sure-fire future classic. In these increasingly competitive times, these are vital assets. In comparison, the Chrysler is too much the brash American and the Simca has too much French eccentricity to survive in the present market. And the boys at Ford and Vauxhall are going to have to think again! Well done, Talbot!