For me this is where me writing about my cars began, with my 1985 Talbot Alpine, so it seems only fitting that thirteen posts into my blog I should bring it up! The car was a modern for its time, a front-wheel drive hatchback, and along with the Volkswagen Passat was one of the first such cars in that class. In 1976 it even became European Car of the Year. Codenamed the C6 it had been in development since 1972 , and was styled in the United Kingdom by Roy Axe and his team at Whitley and built by Simca at Poissy in France. The model was sold under a variety of names, including Simca 1308 and 1309 in mainland Europe, Chrysler Alpine in the UK, and after PSA Peugeot Citroën purchased the failing Chrysler Europe (which had been Rootes and Simca) from the troubled U.S. parent firm for a nominal $1.00, It was re-branded once again as the Talbot Alpine. This was also where my my solo motoring began, oh sure, I'd driven cars up until I took ownership of a 1979 Chrysler Alpine, but once I had my own licence in my hand and I could drive alone, then I drove an Alpine. Over the last three decades I have had the pleasure of owning half a dozen or so Alpines, in every guise from my first one, a 1979 Chrysler badged Alpine, to a Simca 1308, and eventually on to the newer models which were badged as Talbot Alpines. This brings me here, to this one a 1985 Talbot Alpine, magnificently painted in possibly the most boring colour ever to be put on a car... Hearing Aid Beige! Here is the first fill shot!
It had been nearly 20 years since I last set foot in an Alpine, so what on Earth was I doing buying this thing of beauty? In a nutshell, my kids made me do it, and I am very easily lead! The thing was they were looking through my old photos of my old cars and asking me what this one, and what that one was like. I have had some cool cars in my time, and to be honest, the Alpine was probably one of the least cool. However before long they came across this photo.
Here it is, my original Chrysler Alpine, the car that taught me so much about driving, car repairs, girls... Everything! I owe it so much. Now before i go on, you need to remember that this was the very late eighties, it had by the time of this photo been in quite a hefty front end bump with a Police Volvo 240, and I was into The Dukes Of Hazzard! So upon discovering this photo my two little ladies asked quite a lot of questions about it, and to be fair to them, they seemed really quite interested in it. Listening to my girls talking about it got me thinking about it, not that the old car really ever leaves my mind being my first car, and even now I can still hear that old engine rattling away like a bag of rusty spanners as I drive along in my mind. So in the end i said to them, the next one that pops up for sale, we would buy it, and then they could experience it for themselves first hand. I jumped on fleabay, and within a couple of months I had bought one. Admittedly not quite as colourful as my first, but I figured that it should drive the same.
The following Saturday after the auction had been won my friend and I drove the 180+ miles to collect my new toy. By the time the first fill shot photo was taken I had been the proud owner of it for all of about ten minutes but to be honest, I felt like I'd never been out of one! The journey home was an interesting one, I've had some interesting, and pretty cool stuff in my time, but on the way home I noticed quite a few people taking photos of it as they passed me in their cars! Anyway, once home i immediately set about impressing my wife with my latest ride! She was VERY impressed, and soon insisted that I take her out to dinner as i oviously had too much spare cash! (Yeah, like that could ever happen!) So off out to dinner we went! Anyhoo, as luck would happen mrs Clint liked it, and she even drove and enjoyed it! My girls thought it was great too, so everyone was happy! The plan was that we would keep it for maybe a couple of months, have the experience with it, and then sell it on.
However, before too long it was pretty evident that I had become hooked! The car that i had bought with ten months MOT to just experience for a couple of months and then sell on was now needing another MOT! I had tinkered, fettled, cleaned, and changed bits... It was under my skin, and I was loving it. Perhaps loving it a little too much, as by now the Talbot was being used all of the time, and for everything. It pretty much made my much newer daily driver Ford redundant!
Putting it in for it's first MOT in my care it of course failed, but it didn't fail as much as I was thinking it would fail by, and with a few parts, some welding, and some time, it was back on the road for another twelve months. Now I was going to sell it! Except I didn't, I carried on driving it, using it for all my daily duties, and even for going on holiday! This little Talbot was far FAR better than it ever had any right to be, I was having an absolute blast in it. It was so good to drive, and so reliable right up to this point...
I'd promised Mrs Clint that we would go to see her Nan who lives about 100 miles north from our place, but I'd forgotton that, and made arrangements to pick up some wheels for my Range Rover aswell, these were getting on for 150 miles east of our place... No matter I thought, I'll get up early, fuel the Alpine up, pick up the Rangey wheels, back home for 12(ish) ditch the wheels in the hall in our flat, pick up the family, head of to see Mrs Clints Nan, it's gonna be a piece of cake! So, seats down, tank full of BPs finest, well, no, not their finest, I'm not made of money! And off we go! It was going quite well, I arrived at the sellers house, picked up the wheels, and headed home, back home by 11:37!! And I never broke the speed limit once! Infact I plodded along at a steady old 60, which if I'm honest I prefer! Slung the wheels in the hall of our flat, picked up the wife and kids, and off we went, not forgetting to point out to Mrs Clint that I was back by twelve as requested, infact 23 minutes before twelve, I could tell by her stearn look that she was VERY impressed! So after driving for over an hour, and racking up about another 85 miles the Talbot decided that what we needed to experience was the joy of coasting to a halt beside a busy A34, due to your fuel line being blocked with sludge from your fuel tank which was lovely! Oh, with a grumpy wife and family on board just to add to the fun! After a brief argument about how I've run out of petrol I went to investigate the problem... Sure enough, there was no petrol coming through the line, which only added fuel to Mrs Clints fire! "See!!" She exclaimed, "You've run out of petrol!!" Well, knowing that I had over 1/4 of a tank left, I tried to explain that I still had loads left. But, of course, being a very angry, and by now hungry woman she was having none of it! So, reluctantly I did the walk of shame, some 2.5 miles to the nearest petrol station, or atleast, I would have, had I not got picked up by a kind fellow called Timba who not only drove me to the petrol station, but he drove me back too, and he even paid for the petrol!! I guess he probably took pity on my, let just call it play-worn car! Anyhoo, once back I put about 95% of the gallon into my car, and guess what, it still wouldn't start, but that mattered not to mrs Clint, who by now was even more angry than before due to boredom, the heat, the kids going nuts, and of course, HUNGER! I figured I wouldn't make a point of saying I told you so, as by now if we were in a cartoon, I would be looking like a big ham or something! So anyway, I tipped a drop of petrol into the carb, and away it went... Briefly! Proving to me atleast that the problem was feed, or lack thereof! But, I persisted with this method of starting my car until I watched a big lump of red sludge go up my fuel line and into the carb... A couple more splashes of petrol, and finally, away it went, I then drove the ramaining 130 odd miles without hitch... Almost! 10 miles from home, it happened again, so I went about trying to start it in the manner that i had tried earlier, but it wasn't having it, and eventually my battery was flat. Then I decided that my brother needed a trip out to the A34 for a bit of impromptue towing fun! Of course, he showed up, camera in hand, and photobombed farcebook with images of me and my car broken down on the side of the road! He then hitched my car up, and within about half a mile of being towed while it was in gear it was running again! Good times! Once back at BelongaClint the fuel tank was removed, drained, new feul lines and filter fitted, and once more I was ready to cruise in the Alpine.
Before too long another year had rolled by, and I was looking at having to get another MOT on the old thing! So much for just keeping it a couple of months! The next MOT was far easier to acquire needing only a few little things to get a clean sheet. But by now i was really starting to feel the need to sell it. I didn't want to, but frankly it needed to go as I had too many other things on the go at the same time. But even with my new found urgency to sell it, i still clung to it for another ten months! We drove it all over the place, we attended shows in it, I continued to tinker, fettle, clean, and change bits... It was still under my skin, and I was still loving it.
It's funny because twenty odd years ago when I was driving my original Chrysler Alpine I would have never dreamed that there would ever be one on the show field at Surrey Street Rodders Wheelsday show, let alone be an Alpine that I own lol! I wish i'd washed it before we left! Funny how times and attitudes change, a car that was pretty much universally thought of as very uncool when i originally had one, has now become somewhat cool. So then, you may well be asking yourselves what it was like using a 30 year old Talbot Alpine for daily duties? Well, it was surprisingly good actually, far better than I expected. With the exception of a clogged fuel line, and then shortly after a broken fuel pump it never let me down! Sure it was regularly serviced, and maintained, but it ran like a watch, I just couldn't fault it.
Under the bonnet that little 1.6 litre engine whirred away in a very uncharacteristic way for this particular Simca engine, it didn't rattle like a bag full of rusty spanners! It was powerful enough to whip the Alpine along the road at decent enough speeds that you could keep up with the modern traffic if they were keeping to the speed limits! It's not a fast car by any stretch of the imagination, but it is nippy, and driving it you felt like you were going faster than you were.
Inside the dashboard was functional, however I always meant to swap that non working clock for a rev counter, but never seemed to get around to it. There was no radio but to be fair even if there was one, you would've struggled to hear it over the loud exhaust! The seats were lovely big, comfy things, which probably didn't hold you in very well if you were driving it like you stole it, but for normal driving, they were very comfortable, like driving around in your favourite armchair! I spent a whole day driving this thing once, and when I got back home it felt as comfortable getting out of it as it did when I got into it! Brilliant!
Even in the back it was the same deal, big comfy chairs. The kids said it was great in the back, and said they had plenty of room, and it was comfortable! They did however moan when i fitted the seatbelts, but something needed to hold them in, and hold them apart! Now on to its styling if you can call it that!
I will admit that it looks to have been designed by somebody who was only equipped with a pencil and ruler, but I dont think it's an ugly car, and it's very much in keeping with other car designs of the era.
Personally I think it's not a bad looking machine at all, and to me it is just a bit more interesting, and unusual than the normal Cortinas, Golfs, Cavaliers, etc that everyone else wants, plus theres the added bonus of having no scene tax associated with it. Despite being Hearing Aid Beige in colour this is not the car for someone who wants to just blend in! It was a car for an individual, someone who would want to stand out from the crowd where ever they are, be it driving along the road, at a car show, or doing the weekly shopping.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is cooler than penguins wee wee! But the question is, would I have another one? Well, yes I probably would, however I don't really need one...
I still have my original one! When I bought the Beige one part of the reason was because my children wondered what it would be like to drive in, and partly because I hoped that it would help to re-kinidle my interest in restoring my original one. I can say that my interest in it has been rejuvinated, and once my other projects are finished, my original Alpine is next on the list!
It's a while off yet, but that will be a tale for another time so watch this space!