Shortly after the formation of Talbot in 1979, PSA decided to go out on all-out attack; setting aside Talbot as the company’s premier motorsports division.
The Group B Horizon was the result of an aborted foray into rallying.
Tilting at the quattro
Following the creation of the Talbot marque out of the remanants Chrysler Europe in 1979, parent company PSA decided that the new brand needed a high-publicity boost to its image. The result was a two-tier venture into motor sport. In Formula One, PSA became the Ligier team’s title sponsor, rebranding it as Talbot, while using tuneful (if rather elderly) Matra V12 engines in place of the Ford Cosworth DFVs that Ligier had previously campaigned with. In rallying, Talbot put its finances behind the Sunbeam-Lotus project, which had already been under development during the Chrysler era.
The Formula One project was a spectacular failure, and Talbot F1 cars graced the world’s circuits for barely two seasons. However, the Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus was a stunning success, scoring a memorable win at the Lombard-RAC rally in 1980, thus breaking years of Ford dominance. However, the Sunbeam was not planned to remain in production after 1981, and following the introduction of the mid-engined Renault 5 Turbo, Talbot knew it needed to work on a similarly spectacular car.
Lotus began work on a silhouette Horizon, identifying that the development of a similar concept to the Renault’s was the way forward. Using the same Lotus slant-four engine, sited behind the front seats, the Horizon Group B was the result, and it has to be said, an exciting looking proposition it looked.
However, only two prototypes were built before PSA canned it. In 1981, Audi exploded onto the rally scene with its Quattro, and immediately, all competing rally teams realised that they would need four wheel drive in order to remain competitive in the future. Peugeot took over the project, and by 1984, it had produced the mid-engined, four wheel drive 205 T16 as a riposte to the quattro…
Talbot’s rallying efforts were banished to history.
With thanks to Declan Berridge for the pictures and information.