1. I Never understood the perverse 80’s habit of turning a perfectly acceptable hatchback into another pointless saloon car!

  2. I Never understood the perverse 80’s habit of turning a perfectly acceptable hatchback into another pointless saloon car!

  3. @ John. I think it was aimed at the company car market. Hatchbacks were meant to be worse for security than saloons (all you would have to do is break a window and not only would you have access the whole boot, the entire car as well). That’s one of the reasons we have the Sierra Sapphire and booted Mondeos (although I think they’ve just stopped making them)…I think that’s how the story goes anyway.

  4. In the mid 70’s my old man was the MD for a company in London where, before he could add a hatchback to the approved list of rep’s cars, he had to get clearance from the lorry driver’s union first; it was thought they would strike, because of the perceived threat to their jobs of rep’s taking deliveries with them to customer’s premises! Oh, what a different world it was!

  5. I had a 1980 Alpine- and what a steaming pile of crap that was! It sounded like a washing machine full of tin cans, it smoked more heavily than Dot Cotton (and had roughly the same degree of sex appeal), the steering was awful, the body had more holes than a piercing fetishis’t convention, the gearlever was remotely attached to some spinning discs that meshed as well as a pair of mismatched dentures, and it rolled more than a two-legged dog on a storm-hit schooner.

    A nasty, nasty car.

  6. @7 thank those simca egines for that!they cured the tappets on series 2’s if you tried to adjust early ones to quieten them they would not run!very roomy and airy and popped bottom balljoints out on corners at 50mph(right angle corners!)

  7. I actually have die cast models of both the Alpine & Solara. I remember a family member having a brown S2 Solara (A90JWX) which had the naff white SERIES 2 and 5 SPEED stickers on the boot. It was a miserable car, that he kept less than a year, and replaced it with a brand new Nissan Cherry, and he stayed loyal to Nissan until he stopped driving

  8. My family had a later Solara and it was, apart from some trim niggles and poor finish, a very reliable car, reasonably quiet( at least it didn’t sound like a London taxi at idle like our Alpine did) and cheap to own, with 40 mpg possible on the open road. Also since they weren’t the most desirable cars on the road, our three year old version worked out a grand cheaper than its Ford and Vauxhall rivals. Only problem was resale was terrible after the Talbot name was dropped and we ended up selling it to some character in a layby for a grand in 1987.

  9. @5 – No, they still make them, just stopped selling them in the UK – 3 box saloon is still the preferred layout for medium size family cars just about everywhere else. Ironic that in the 1980s the likes of Ford had to engineer saloons just to pander to the British fleet market when now we dont want anything to do with them!

  10. Quite liked the chunky shape of the Solara. My neighbour had a 1983 Y reg which, despite its rattly engine, looked okay and had comfortable looking seats.

  11. 7: By modern standards they are not good, but it rode and handled a million times better than the wretched Cortina Mk4 and 4.5.

    Having been bought up on Chrysler’s / Talbot’s I remember taking my first drive in the pool car Cortina and actually thought that the steering was broken it was so imprecise.

    What I do know is that the drivers on our fleet of late Alpine / Solara (actually called Minx and Rapiers) with 5 speed gearbox and power steering were mighty unhappy to find them replaced by Cavalier, Montego and Sierra that all lacked power steering in their price brackets and in some cases a 5 speed box.

  12. We had a five speed 1982 Solara and the fifth gear made it a lot quieter at speed than the Alpine it replaced. Bear in mind, the Cortina only had four speeds, was a lot thirstier and was rwd, and the Solara was quite an advanced car for the time. Also Talbot must have improved the rustproofing by 1982 as ours had none( the two Alpines that preceded it weren’t particularly bad, but needed work done at MOT time on the undersides).

  13. One thing that defines the Solara was the soft, cosetting ride mated to very comfortable seats that made travelling in one quite a relaxing experience if you were a passenger. These brochure photos show how well upholstered the seats were and further up the range, they came equipped with some very nice looking thick velour. I always wonder if the car received the five speed Peugeot transmission and improvements to its engines in 1980, rather than 1982, that the Solara could have done a lot better as it was always praised for its comfort, seats, equipment levels and handling.

  14. Hopefully the seat quality was better than the V reg Alpine my Uncle had, which had no headreasts & threadbare upholstery after less than 10 years on the road.

    • I think the improvements came when the Alpine became a Talbot and the Peugeot influence became more prevalent across the Talbot range. By 1982, the seventies Rootes era cars had gone with the closure of Linwood, the new Samba used Peugeot rather than Simca drivetrains, and most Horizons, Alpines and Solaras received Peugeot five speed transmissions and better rustproofing for the Y registration year. Later cars did seem better and there were some attractive finance deals and special editions to attract buyers.

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