In memoriam : Talbot Horizon LD
A look at some of the less likely extinct cars in the UK, according to data supplied by the brilliant How Many Left? website based on DVLA data.
3: Talbot Horizon LD – died out in 2003.
Ah, you’re thinking, so AROnline‘s In Memoriam series is already running out of steam to such an extent that we’re now relying on having to pick model variants instead of ranges. Maybe you’re right but, in the case of the Talbot Horizon LD, we reckon it’s justified.
Older readers might remember the Talbot Horizon – a car so rattly that you’d hear it coming long before you saw it and so susceptible to rust that it was already fizzing the moment it left Poissy or Coventry. Mind you, it was the tappet rattle which most people will remember with something less than affection – the Simca 1294, 1442 and 1592cc engines all suffered from the dreaded rattle and, no matter how hard servicing dealers tried to rectify the problem, they never quite succeeded.
However, in 1982 Peugeot shoehorned in a new engine that clattered instead of rattled and, in the process, ushered in the brilliant 1905cc XUD engine – a power unit that would go on to introduce a new generation of drivers to the varied joys of diesel power, be it in their Citroen BXs, ZXs and Xantias; or their Peugeot 309, 405 or 306s. It was a truly gamechanging engine and one that went on to sell in its millions – and Talbot got it first in its middle-aged Horizon LD.
Actually, the Horizon wasn’t a bad car – it was clean looking (thanks to a certain Roy Axe), it was roomy and economical. All that really let it down was those engines and comedy low-geared steering. Surreptitiously, PSA answered those criticisms with the LD. The diesel lump was torquey and delivered plentiful performance (for its day), while the production engineers got all sensible and gave it standard fit power steering. In a stroke, they created the perfect Horizon – and one that proved that there was life in the car, despite fearsome younger rivals such as the Escort Mk3 and Vauxhall Astra/Opel Kadett coming along and bloodying its nose.
Unfortunately, it was too little too late. Yes, it went on to sell pretty well in its homeland, but the Horizon LD wasn’t enough to convince customers or PSA’s management itself that there was a future for the marque. The Talbot name was already doomed and the Horizon LD would live on two more years until its replacement, the Talbot C28 Arizona (sorry, Peugeot 309) was launched.
Apathy soon followed with the result that the pool of Talbots was pretty much eradicated from UK roads by the turn of the 21st Century. The last Horizon LD clattered into a scrapyard back in 2003, killing the breed forever in the UK. That’s a genuine shame because the model was, if nothing else, significant for proving that diesels could be even better than their petrol counterparts – even if they were actually rather average.