On the 11th day of October 1902 a company was formed, the products of which eventually led to the principles of the modern automobile. Five acres of land was bought in Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, London. In November 1904 the first Talbots rolled out of the factory. The first cars were of French design and were also produced in France in a sister factory under the name of Clement -Bayards. The Talbots proudly wore both as their badge and their name the Family Crest of the Earl of Shrewsbury and the Family name of Talbot. There has been much discussion over the years as to the animal on the crest. Some say a lion and others the Talbot hound bred by Lord Talbot (The Earl of Shrewsbury). I believe that it was finally decided in favour of the lion.
The production cars were acknowledged as being in the front rank of the light automobiles of the time.
By 1908 Talbots were already outperforming both the Sunbeam and the Vauxhall cars in sprints and hillclimbs and in 1912 a 4500cc four cylinder engine (105bhp at 2500 revs) was put into a streamlined body on a standard chassis. The great Percy Lambert took this car out on the Brooklands track and on its first appearance promptly took the World 5 litre records for the half mile, kilometre and mile at 112mph exceeding the previous half mile record by 25mph. Feb 5th 1913 saw the car and Percy Lambert take the 50mile record at 102.83mph and a week later in pouring rain the 100miles at 103.76 and the hour at 103.84mph. Actually the performance had been greater than this.
Because of the poor visibility Percy had conducted the car around Brooklands fifty feet out from the measured line thus covering a much further distance than the official record. This was the first time any where in the world that a car had covered 100 miles in an hour. With much justification a term used by the papers of the time to describe the successes of the competition Talbots was adopted and all advertising bore the line "The Invincible Talbot"
It took Peugeot 7500ccs and then Sunbeam 9000ccs to raise the record a mere 4 miles an hour.
In World War I, Talbot supplied ambulances, Staff cars and many of their cars were fitted with armour plate and turrets to serve as armoured cars. They were very popular with the Russian War Commission as apart from T-model Fords no other cars could climb the sort of hills that the Serbians provided for getting at the enemy. One fleet of fifty Talbot ambulances covered one and a quarter million miles on the Western front in the period 1916-1917.
It was about this time that a 25 year old engineer named Georges Roesch joined Talbot as their Chief Engineer. This brilliant young man was to be linked with the Talbot name whenever the subject of Talbot cars came up. An outstanding feature of his first effort was a tubular track rod and drag link filled with oil which automatically lubricated the ball joints. Not only that but the ball joints wear was taken up by spring-loaded pads. A feature of all Talbots, which was mainly responsible for the wonderful steering of these cars.
About 1919 the Talbot firm was taken over by a French car maker called Darracq
and not long after that Sunbeam joined the others to become STD. This merger
is covered in more detail in a
The Talbot became known as Talbot (London) and Darracq became Talbot-Darracq however it became more commonly known as Talbot (Paris). Funnily enough when racing, a car could be a Sunbeam this week in England and then be shipped to France and have a Talbot-Darracq badge thrown on it. It was not unknown for STD to field a team of two Talbot-Darracqs and a Sunbeam. All three factories were involved in the development of competition cars and it was not till the advent of the Talbot 90 that we had a distinct Talbot racing model that owed nothing to the others. Georges Roesch was able with the Talbot 90 to put his idea of a modern automobile in front of the public.
His concept of making his conrods, pistons, pushrods and rocker gear as light as possible combined with high compression and high revs was to put his engines light years ahead of the rest. Around Brooklands the Talbots would keep pace with much larger engined beasts and pass many more. At the trackside keen enthusiasts would fall back in amazement to find a small (relatively) engine, pushrods and a single small updraught carbie. The opposition came equipped with very large engines and multiple carbies along with drainpipe exhausts. The noise of these monsters would shatter eardrums. Yet the Talbots would whisper around almost silently yet maintaining astonishing speeds. All this on basically a standard road chassis and four seater bodywork. A massive radiator would not have helped the wind resistance but they were able to put to shame many of the monsters that passed for sports cars at the time yet they were four seaters.