Events : Dutch Citroën A to ZX and Simca/Talbot meeting

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

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 Simca and Rootes, quite a few Ryton-designed and engineered cars went on sale across Europe wearing the Simca, Chrysler or, latterly, Talbot badges.

Words and photography: Alexander Boucke

Wearing age with pride...
Wearing age with pride…

So here we are, in the blazing autumn sun, surrounded by about 150 cars on the main station of the South Limburg steam railway (ZLSM). The setting is a rather beautiful one, and those who never have been to South Limburg certainly are encouraged to spend a couple of days in the area. The annual event is always held on the last Sunday in September, this year for the second time on the site of the railway museum.
And indeed, we were not to be disappointed: while the once very popular Simca 1308 (known as the Alpine in the UK) was completely absent, as was the Horizon, there were no less than three Talbot Tagoras as well as two Talbot Solaras to be seen.

The Tagora’s styling has certainly aged well, but when seeing it in close proximity to the in-house rival, the Citroën CX, it is also easy to see why it failed to aspire as a luxury motor.

Talbot Tagora
Talbot Tagora

Other notable cars at the show included a Citroën M35, a little Coupé featuring a Wankel engine and Hydropneumatic suspension based on the Ami 8, a Matra Rancho Decouvrable, a Matra Bagheera and several Murenas.

We hope you enjoy the somewhat Citroën-heavy gallery, we certainly enjoyed an excellent day out!

 

Alexander Boucke

Based in Aachen, Germany, Alexander has had BMC>ARG cars around him since birth - in fact his earliest childhood memories are from buying a new Landcrab with his family at the age of two. The new cars have aged to classic cars and a few more have joined the family fleet - most of them by now proper classics and many with Hydrolastic or Hydragas suspension. Alexander joined the AROnline team back in 2002 when helping out to get some facts right on the Austin 3 Litre.

19 Comments

  1. Great line up there and nice to see a Talbot-Matra Rancho in attendance. Aren’t there only about 3 left in the wild in the UK? It was certainly ahead of its time. Why wasn’t it the roaring success it could have been – lack of 4wd, poor marketing?

  2. @ Matt, it was really the grandfather of the current crossovers like the Nissan Juke, not a four wheel drive, but not a conventional family car either. The Rancho was marketed as a sort of fun, trendy car like the Juke, but the market wasn’t quite ready in 1979 for a crossover. It was a shame as it was interesting to look at and quite spacious inside with a tall driving position, yet interest was limited and it was withdrawn in 1982.

  3. Citroën were always adventurous with their design. something that has been lost over time. One forgets just how futuristic the ID and DS19 looked in their day. I remember looking at one in the showroom in 1959, when we were still producing the Cambridge, and thinking that it looked like something from outer space.

    I love seeing the old Mehari, it means ‘racing camel’ in Algerian I think. Nearly bought one when I was living in France.

    • It was not just the looks of Citroen DS , the technology has not been surpassed 50 years aftyer launch, ie, FWD, interconnected hydraulic suspension, variable ride height, aerodynamics,all this when when many cars still used 3-bearing crankshaft side-valve engines and leaf springs.

  4. The Rancho had a following in the UK for years after it was withdrawn.

    Also really nice to see a Simca 1501 saloon. Haven’t seen one in decades. My Dad used to have virtually the only one in our North of England town in 1976.

    Loved that car.

    • Hehe, indeed! In particular towards the rear of the field the grass was rather high – with all the DS and CX sunk down to the ground… There were however lots of wild herbs including Thyme and Mint growing in there, spreading a lovely smell that simply would not want to get into the pictures.

      • With their Hydropneumatic suspension lowered, the grass was almost as high as some of those Citroens 🙂
        They should have put the Tagora in the long grass, it would have improved its styling!

  5. Big misconception. The Rancho was a success, and sold well in the UK. Problem is, it was replaced by the Matra-built Renault Espace, and the crossover market stalled until the early 2000s, sadly.

  6. More memories for me than I expected. A school teacher in the early 1970s had a Simca 1501 Estate; a former work boss had a Rancho in the mid 80s; and for a short while I worked at a Chrysler dealer when the Alpine was newly introduced.

  7. I recognise many of these cars from my youth! A neighbour used to own a Simca 1000 (or was it 1100?) as shown in picture 8. A colleague also had one of the early Chrysler Alpine’s as a company car, in yellow gold metallic. Nice to see so many of these everyday classics together.

  8. Amazing to see that Talbot Solara, I haven’t seen one in this Country for many, many years. My Dad had a Talbot Alpine, it was a top of the range model with ‘pepperpot’ alloys, power steering and even a trip computer! A really nice car at the time (1985)

  9. One of my Uncles had an Alpine for years & another a Solara.

    Both were quite popular in the 1980s, but seemed vanish from the roads by the end of the 1990s.

    I’m guessing some long term Rootes customers bought them once the Avengers stopped being made, if not before.

  10. @ Richard Davies, my family had two Alpines and Solaras, all three cars were comfortable, spacious cars that looked more distinctive than a Cortina and were cheaper to buy. We didn’t have any rust problems surprisingly and the Solara with a five speed gearbox was quite a refined car on the move as the fifth gear made the old Simca engine less stressed. I think so few of these survive as they were never seen as future classics in the way something like a Ford Sierra Cosworth would be and also if they weren’t undersealed properly, rust took hold.

  11. The main problem my Uncle had with his Alpine was it having trouble starting even with the battery fully charged in the middle of summer it was touch & go if it would start first time.

    Also later in it didn’t like motorway driving for more than a couple of hours at a time in the summer.

    I remember stopped for a break on a long drive & my uncle made sure it had cooled down enough before setting off again.

  12. Despite their shortcomings, I liked the look of the Alpine & Solara, (particularly the chunky booted Solara). The engines always sounded “clattery” though, which detracted from the good points.

    I believe the Alpine was the first car or one of the first with electronic ignition(?). It’s advert slogan was the worlds “first 7 day a week car”

    • The Rancho was available in “découvrable” towards the end of its life. It was a fairly good seller, Matra stopped its production when they teamed up with Renault and the Espace replaced the Rancho on the production lines, PSA had refused to go ahead for the people carrier….

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