The Chrysler Alpine should have been so good. It was an early adopter of the hatchback format in the family sector, was front wheel drive, and drove pretty well. It was also economical – which in an era of rocketing fuel prices was more than good news. And yet – today, it’s unmourned and almost forgotten about.
It was a product of a multi-national that had huge ambition for its European division. Chrysler developed the Alpine during the early 1970s – as part of a plan to create a modern-looking range of front-wheel drive hatchbacks using the diverse Rootes and Simca ranges as a starting point. The Alpine was the first of this new wave, arriving in 1975, and it was good enough to win the European Car of The Year award.
It looked smart and of the moment, but the politics of its maker took over, and when the Americans pulled out in 1978, the Chryslers became Talbots. Should have been more successful, but the rusty, tappety Alpine’s legacy is not a happy one, despite having so much unfulfilled potential.
The Talbot Solara or Simca 1510 as it was known in France looked fresh, modern and rather appealing when it was launched in 1980. For the ultra-conservative UK fleet market, its maker hoped that the tidily-styled three-box saloon was just the thing with which to steal sales from Ford and Vauxhall – as well as replace the disappointingly slow-selling Avenger.
As it happened, the Solara didn’t generate enough sales for Peugeot to remain interested in its newly created Talbot marque. In the UK, it was offered in 1.3- and 1.6-litre form, and didn’t have a wide-enough model range to attract those all-important company car sales. The quality wasn’t there either – with the car feeling tinny and insubstatial compared with its rivals.
After five short years, it was over, and the Solara disappeared off the new-car price lists, unreplaced
Reviews, blogs and news stories
It was a genuine step forward for Chrysler – the Anglo-French Alpine was styled in the UK and powered by Simca running gear. Shame it wasn’t built to withstand rust. Hatching a new approach The Alpine was born through the desperate need for Chrysler to replace the ageing Simca 1500/1501 in France. As late as […]
Why would AROnline visit a Citroën meeting in the south of the Netherlands? Well, for one, we love cars – all of them. And the French certainly built some of the most interesting ones of all times. But the interested reader of these pages will certainly know that, as a consequence of Chrysler buying both […]
Look closely at the Moskvich Aleko and you will see something of a passing resemblance between it and the Alpine… First shown in Europe at the 1988 Paris Salon, the Moskvich Aleko was seen as a huge advancement over its predecessor, and along with the Lada Samara, it heralded the Russia car industry’s arrival into […]
Rep race Back in 1980, if you wanted the ultimate business tool on wheels, you (or your company’s fleet manager) bought a Ford Cortina. Vauxhall and Talbot didn’t necessarily agree, offering the Cavalier and Solara as very capable rivals. But which was best then and now, the Ford Cortina 1.6L, Vauxhall Cavalier 1600GL or Talbot […]
The Anglicized version of the SIMCA 1307/1308 went into production at Ryton in 1976. This meant that Avenger production moved to Linwood in Scotland, and Hunter production went to Ireland. Engines for the Alpine were also produced in the UK, boosting local content to above 50 per cent. Photos kindly supplied by 1307-1308.org
Taken from the 1982 brochure, a gallery of the 1982 range… Pictures kindly supplied by Neils Marienlund.
For 1985, the Alpine and Solara models were re-branded in the UK. The names were plucked from the ex-Rootes stockpile, and equipment levels were uprated… Pictures kindly supplied by Graham Arnold
Known as the Chrysler 150 in Spain, the Alpine sold in reasonable numbers. When production of the 1510/Solara ceased in Poissy, it continued in Spain. Brochure images Solara Magazine Cover star All Photos kindly supplied by Graham Arnold
Producing safety concepts was extremely fashionable during the 1970s; this was Chrysler’s take… All Photos kindly supplied by Declan Berridge
Designated the C6, engineered at Poissy and styled in Whitley, the five-door hatchback that emerged sported a clean and crisp style and contemporary layout. Styling sketches Clay models Preparing the models… Three schemes for evaluation… Estate proposal Pictures kindly suppled by Etienne van der Linden and Hervé Le Guernic.